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EBSN / EPALE discussion - What works in workplace basic skills?

13/09/2016
by Zsolt Vincze

From Wednesday 14th to Friday 16th September the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN) will be hosting an online discussion about Workplace Basic Skills on EPALE moderated by Rosemarie Klein and Dieter Zisenis from the German research and consultancy organization Büro für berufliche Bildungsplanung (bbb).

We would like to hear from anyone who has been involved in workplace basic skills training or is interested in developing expertise in this area.

The discussion will be open from Wednesday, 14th September, 10.00 CET. Please join us and share your thoughts and experiences! 

 

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afbeelding van Rosemarie Klein

Birgit, you asked if it always needs special persons for "Betriebskontakte". To our experience it needs person - as mentioned by Helmut and Cäsilia who know how to "walk and talk" when entering a company. In our projects SESAM and Gruwe we offered a training to freelancer trainers and coaches who are interested in "akquisition for workplace basic skills". And by now amongst the 40 trainers we colaborate with about 20 are Betriebskontakter and trainer. They are all members of the so called AoG-Network-NRW (workplace-basic-skills-network Northrhine-Westfalia) and of course they make the akquisition primarily for themselves but: As the needs and interest of companies sometimes are not covered by themselves they make akquisition for colleges. 

But this is ONE way. As well we do practise a very good cooperation to the projects of our partner of union and work counsel (see contribution of Emily yesterday) and also we are very well connected to company-networks to be dooropeners.

afbeelding van Rosemarie Klein

An employer-feedback:

The competence of the four sellers is demonstrably increased. They have gained by the very intense and concrete learning on action situations in their workplace safety, how to behave with customer inquiries concretely: When is it good to reach out directly to customers? Which answers might be appropriate in the 10 TOP-questions of customers we had identified? What if I cannot answer a technical question? etc And the four women felt much more confident, competent and have understood why and even more THAT the customer and his questions is the no 1 and all the other important work to be done comes after the custumer. An last but not least: communication with customer they now experience to be an enrichtment in the daily work. 

One of the questions our trainers do work on is: How can we secure the transfer of learning into working?

Is this a question for you as well?

afbeelding van Cäcilia Märki

Dear Zsolt and Rosemarie

yes, in companies long trainings are not adaequat. If the training is worplace oriented based on situations and trainers as well as responsible persons in the company take care of the transfer of learning back to the workplace the usefulness of the training is quickly visible through changes in the capability to act in workplace situations. From my experience the transfer is a trump and the more team leaders or colleagues engage in the learning process of the participants the more pronounced the increase in capabilities to act will be.

In average the GO trainings are 30 hours when language is involved, some companies did more.

We found participants increase in motivation to engage in further learning activities especially promising. People want to continue learning once they feel it is useful. Then other high quality offers in basic skills need to be in place that people can go to. 

Workplace basic skills allows companies and participants alike to discover the willingness as well as the potential of some people to take up the pathway to a formal professional education. IMO this is a further important aspect. In Switzerland the "Berufsabschluss für Erwachsene" is an important issue at the moment (skills shortage) and workplace basic skills may play an important role to enable ever more adults to achieve a formal professional qualification.

Bye for now

Cäcilia

 

 

afbeelding van Zsolt Vincze

Reading many interesting comments above I would like to share some of the experiences we had related to the implementation of an experimental project here, in Hungary on workplace basic skills. As in Hungary we hadn’t really had programmes in this area, together with SVEB from Switzerland (represented by Cäcilia above) we initiated a project aimed at adapting and trying out in Hungary a model tailored for SMEs (GO) elaborated by the Swiss colleagues. The model proposed to create basic skills training programs directly at the workplace adapted to the actual needs of both the employer and a small group of employees.

Speaking about convincing the companies to participate we experienced that this could only be successful when they were feeling that this program really aimed to deal with their actual problems and it was not only a general ’ready-made product’ offered for all companies. At first a lot of decision makers were reluctant but the real positive change in attitude took place after the discussions we had with the management and also the employees selected for the training. They realised that we really understood their day-by-day challenges and proposed concrete steps (training) tailored for them, and made decisions together with them. This is connected to what David called "involving employers in designing a demand-led system" that helps a lot in attitude.

Another important factor was to convince also the participant employees. We saw that many of them had no experience at all regarding learning in adult life. In addition no one had asked about their needs for a long time, so this was a new situation for them which could be turned into positive experience, offering the feeling that they are important for the company.

In short we worked with 6-7 SMEs and it was interesting to see that the most important challenges were in the field of communication, working with colleagues and also the lack of proper working attitude in the sense of seeing the company as 'my organization' and not as an opponent. We worked mainly with basic skills in connection with these aspects in relatively short learning programmes.

At the end our most important conclusions were:

  • It works only for smaller companies/SMEs and only if they feel that it's tailored to them
  • This approach needs a lot of resources and well-prepared staff from the provider, which leads to the eternal question of financing. Companies would be able to invest their time to a certain extent but not really financial resources.
  • If both employers and employees are convinced they could be open to invest their time shared (50% from the working hours and 50% from the free time)
  • Having gained good experiences it is easier to convince further SMEs.
afbeelding van Rosemarie Klein

replying to Zsolt: we experience that the duration of an workplace basic skills training is also very important. Usually courses are planned as longlasting courses. Not so in working with a company on workplace basic skill training. The trainings might be only 10, 20, 30 hours. Mostly they start with a short training, 10 - 15 hours as taster, as trial offer. And as the professionalized trainers really do the training and coaching very, very close to the need and interest of the employee, benefit and development even after this short time becomes visible. In almost all cases up to now a follow-up-training started. 

afbeelding van Zsolt Vincze

I agree, Rosemarie, the duration is very important. These trainings were 20 hours, implemented in approximately 5-7 weeks. Interesting that the drop-out rate was 0%.

In the frame of this project we had no time for follow-up trainings but we did certain follow-up with the companies.

afbeelding van Sandrine BONNET

Dear colleagues,

To answer your questions, I posted in a previous subject in our Community Activities (SIG on Worplace Literacy) this comment about our French system.

/en/comment/3576#comment-3576

 

Moreover, I wanted to add that indeed managers, human resources have to be involved in the building of provisions for training : when we work with companies, we use national framework but we always adapt them to specific situations.

We also use tools to analyse the activity and we are going to experiment this on a new Erasmus+ Project (DILABS : Digital community and Innovation in aduLt educAtion and Basic Skills); one of them is the video of professional activities in order to be used in the analysis of key competences at work. I will give you more details as soon as we have started the project and get the first results.

Tomorrow, I'll be participating to the presentation of good practices of CLEA with our National Agency EPALE in Paris. So I'll get back to you next week in the comments...

 

All the best,
Sandrine Bonnet

Lille 1 - Service Formation Continue

PS. I couldn't use the green button "Reply" to reply directly to your contributions. It happens sometimes, so I added a new comment, event if it is not a new subject : sorry for that.

 

 

 

afbeelding van Cäcilia Märki

Good morning everybody

A Swiss delegation was lucky to visit VOX earlier this year. One thing amongst many others I learned in Oslo was how crucial the role of the learning provider is. 

Providers need incentives to become active in workplace basic skills. There work needs to be valued and well payed. Otherwise providers will not be able and willing to work with companies.

Providers need very good contacts to employers and employer networks. This is an investment. Acquisition costs money and needs time.

Providers need experienced trainers to be able to work with basic skills in the company environment.

Providers need efficient support structures to be able to facilitate an adaequate offer of comprehensive workplace basic skills training.

What do you think?

Cäcilia from SVEB

afbeelding van CONEDU Austria

Hello everybody!

I am Birgit Aschemann (Austrian member of the ET2020 working group on Adult Learning which is focussing on workplace learning during the current working period).

Dear Cäcilia, I strongly agree with you - providers need public (financial) support to make good learning offers, and also to make good job offers to their adult basic education professionals (or "trainers"). This work needs to be valued and well payed, otherwise highly specialized experts will soon leave the field and look for better job opportunities again (which means an ongoing loss of knowhow in the sector).

In Austria we have the so-called Initiative Erwachsenenbildung as an overarching program for basic skills offers. It provides basic skills courses for different target groups all over Austria, which are closely linked to everyday needs of the learners (using authentic materials and so on), but (up to now) not especially for the workplace.  The adult basic education professionals (or "adult basic skills teachers") working in these courses are obliged to undergo a special training along a defined currculum; this training is funded by the ministry of education (often together with ESF).

On the other hand there is the concept already mentioned by Helmut (BEST): "Betriebskontakter". "Betriebskontakters" as such have a long tradition in active labour market policy in Austria. They are experts for the linkage between individual job-seekers and companies with all the professional knowhow wich is necessary to do that job.

IMO, the "ideal person" working in a workplace-related basic skills provision needs both: the expertise regarding enterprises as well as the expertise regarding didactics for basic skills - he or she should be a "Betriebskontakter" and an adult basic education professional (or "adult basic skills teacher") at the same time. If we take that seriously, it demands high and special skills and appropriate working conditions.

Or do most projects have separate persons for contacting the companies and for training in the companies? I am interested to learn more about it...(have to leave now but will be back in the evening)

Best! Birgit

afbeelding van Cäcilia Märki

Dear Birgit

contacting companies and opening the door for workplace basic skills training is a crucial competence. We address it seperatly in our GO training for providers. Mostly, I would say, Door Openers are persons with very good (personal) networks to companies but also to other relevant key persons being in a position to address companies, establish contact, explain the benefits of (in our case) GO and hand over to the person in charge of the GO process in the company (in our terms the Prozessbegleiter). The function of the Door Opener is also important to establish trust, especially when companies are small or very small and have a migrant background.

The Austrian Betriebskontakter" are Door Openers and could have an important role in workplace basic skills promotion.

I know the Austrian "Initiative Erwachsenenbildung" a bit and follow the developments in our neighboring country with big interest. I agree, that the competences of trainers working in workplace basic skills need to be very high. What I observed in our 10 pilots is a very high demand in flexibility. Trainers need to be prepared to work without a curriculum but be open what the requirements of the workplace are (situations) als well as be able to identify the individual need of the person doing the job. The training resulting from requirements and need lay the ground for the training. Especially needs assessment is continuously develping because participants are often not aware what they want to learn. As soon as they see what learning can be about in a GO training, they come up with ever more needs. In the GO training we train for the implementation of the GO Model. Knowing how to teach basic skills is crucial as well as being able to act in an company environment. But we do not train for basic skills teaching, it is a prerequisite in our understanding.

Best regards to Austria :)

Cäcilia