Benefits of WBL
… for apprentices
(as future workers employees)
- improved chances of employability for good jobs (and youth at risk)
- a faster school-to-work transition
- personal and professional development
- improved career perspectives
… for companies
(as future workers employees)
- making good business sense
- providing cost-effective TVET delivery
- improving productivity through better qualified workers
- improving (international) competitiveness.
… for labour markets
- better coordination between the world of education and the world of work
- increased attractiveness for (foreign) business investors
What does Work-based Learning mean?
There are various definitions of WBL, some narrow and others broader. Most common is the narrow definition, suggested by international organizations.
“Work-based learning refers to all forms of learning that take place in a real work environment. … Apprenticeships, internships/traineeships and on-the-job training are the most common types of work-based learning. These types usually … combine elements of learning in the workplace with classroom-based learning.” (IAG-TVET 2017, p. 2)
“The key point of work-based learning is the knowledge acquisition and competence development in a genuine working environment, This includes the typical technological, technical, social, and economic learning content and skills that are required at work.” (Grollmann/Hugo/Wittig, in: Handbook of the European Training Foundation 2021)
In this narrow definition, WBL is clearly limited to the real world of work, in contrast to different forms of “off the job” training and learning, i.e. classroom-based learning or learning in practice firms (inter-company training centres). It corresponds to the common distinction between work-based or work-integrated learning in the factory or company (in-company training) and work-related or work-oriented school-based learning.
“WBL is learning closely related to work. Work is embedded in learning and vice versa. It is learning for work, learning at work and learning through work. WBL is practice and experience-based. WBL involves learners’ participation in doing work tasks. WBL is situated.” (Beijing Normal University 2016, p. 16)
In the broader definition, WBL can also be applied to different learning venues, if learning refers to work (learning for work) and enables work-related learning experiences.
Project definition – WBL as a meta category
Based on the broader definition, ProWoThai understands WBL as a generic term – or a meta category – comprising all learning venues and all forms of learning with a relationship to work and practice-oriented didactics.
“… work-based and work-related learning refer to learning in companies, training centres, schools and academies. This includes direct learning at the workplace and learning in work processes and through work.” (Dehnbostel/Schröder 2017)
„… is a concept that includes both work-based learning at the company (workplace as a place of learning) as well as work-related learning at other learning venues like vocational schools/colleges or special intercompany training venues: … work-based and work-related learning refer to learning in companies, training centres, schools and academies. This includes direct learning at the workplace and learning in work processes and through work.” (Dehnbostel/Schröder 2017)
WBL from an international perspective
– a broad spectrum of WBL schemes
From an international and comparative perspective, WBL in dual TVET is only one of a number of WBL schemes. Comyn and Brewer (2018, pp 5-6) use the concept of “WBL schemes” to alleviate the confusion surrounding the multitude of different training systems around the world, in which learning is somehow located in the work process. These are differentiated according to whether there is a contract between the company and the learner/trainee, whether certification takes place at the end, and whether practical training takes place on or off the job, or as a combination of the two (as in the German dual model).
Typology of WBL in dual TVET
The following typology of WBL addresses the different learning venues in dual TVET (cf. Dehnbostel/Schröder 2017). Learning venues are companies, inter-company training centres and vocational schools or universities.
Work-integrated Learning (WIL)
First, an exploratory study is conducted to outline and record the status quo on WBL in Thailand in order to identify research objectives.
Work-connected Learning (WCL)
Here, the learning place and the workplace are separated from each other, but there is a direct (spatial and/or organizational) connection between the two (Dehnbostel/ Schröder 2017).
Work-oriented Learning (WOL)
This mode of learning takes place mainly at vocational schools and/or training centres. The focus is on exercises and assignments that are oriented as closely as possible to the reality of companies (e.g. production school, training firm) (Dehnbostel/ Schröder 2017).
… and their combination
These different WBL approaches take into account that Work-based Learning (WBL) can and should take place not only at the learning venue “workplace” (company, on the job), but also at further learning venues (off the job) in order to combine their specific learning and training potentials synergistically, as is the case in dual vocational education and training.
Challenges of Work-based Learning
– learning-venue cooperation
WBL approaches are suitable for linking the particular strengths of different learning venues and focusing either on the work process or the learning process, depending on the task and objective. The connection between working and learning shows the significant relevance of WBL in today’s world of work and education, primarily established in the learning settings of dual training approaches (cf. Dehnbostel 2018, S. 278).
Smooth cooperation with regard to the learning venue is a challenging prerequisite, allied to teachers’ willingness to attain deeper insights into the world of work and gain practical experience.
Didactic and regulatory prerequisites and requirements
From the perspective of dual vocational education and training, WBL has to be conducive to vocational learning in order to acquire comprehensive voacational action competence. This is a sine qua non prerequisite for qualified work in a vocational or professional domain. Vocational action competence consists of subject-specific knowledge and competence (german: Fachkompetenz) as well as personal and social competences, including learning competence. The latter is necessary in order to adapt to new work demands in a continuously changing world of work. WBL is not only necessary in the context of formal education and training (apprenticeship), but is also important in terms of human development through informal lifelong learning (i.e. qualifications that do not only focus on professional competences) and self-realization (cf. Dehnbostel 2018). In order to develop personal and social competencies, work-based learning takes real tasks and solves problems in a cooperative and community-based social context – preferably in the Community of Practice (CoP).
In order to ensure high quality work, TVET has to be based on training standards. One example can be found in the vocational education and training standards that apply throughout Germany. The quality of training and expectations with reference to prospective, professionally qualified skilled workers can thus be clearly defined (cf. KMK 2018; Dehnbostel 2018).