Apprenticeship in dual and non-dual systems

Between tradition and innovation

by María José Chisvert-Tarazona (Volume editor) Mónica Moso Diez (Volume editor) Fernando Marhuenda-Fluixá (Volume editor)
©2021 Edited Collection 310 Pages


Vocational education, apprenticeship included, is subject to reviews and updates that the recent crises are demanding. The role of education and training systems in different welfare regimes is key in shaping what it involves becoming an adult, a worker and a citizen. Nevertheless, policy-makers often indicate dual systems as the most successful, efficient and intelligent way to provide vocational education. This volume contributes with research that discusses the appropriateness of dual systems in Germany and Switzerland and shows some of its current weaknesses. It also portrays effective and non-effective ways of introducing apprenticeships in non-dual systems in Sweden and Spain. The authors want to contribute to the debate on the internationalization of VET and particularly of dual systems, to clarify differences between apprenticeship and alternance (too often taken as synonymous). Particularly relevant is the seldom-cited case of France.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Contributors
  • Foreword
  • Alternance and vocational knowledge: Reconsidering apprenticeships and education-business partnerships from an educational perspective (Fernando Marhuenda-Fluixá)
  • 1. Dual systems in Europe: Reforms and modernization
  • Contextualising policy transfer initiatives in the field of vocational education and training (VET) (Sandra Bohlinger)
  • What constitutes quality in the Swiss initial vocational education and training dual system: An apprentice perspective (Florinda Sauli, Matilde Wenger & Jean-Louis Berger)
  • The disruptive potential of digitalization and the current Swiss VET landscape1 (Stefan Kessler & Philipp Gonon)
  • 2. Apprenticeships in dual and non-dual systems: Adaptation and opportunities to develop
  • Apprenticeship education and school-based vocational programmes in the Swedish upper secondary school: Different tracks towards the same goal? (Enni Paul & Camilla Gåfvels)
  • International cooperation in the field of vocational education and training: Concepts, approaches, and empirical findings from a German perspective (Dietmar Frommberger, Matthias Pilz, Michael Gessler)
  • Apprenticeship in France: Institutional patterns, organisation, methods and performance (M’hamed Dif)
  • 3. Dual VET and education-business cooperation in Spain
  • The interest of companies in participating in higher education (Reina Ferrández-Berrueco, Lucía Sánchez-Tarazaga & Stephan Humpl)
  • Does the dual VET bring curriculum improvements? A normative analysis in the Spanish context (María José Chisvert-Tarazona, Javier Vila-Vázquez, Alicia Ros-Garrido, & Davinia Palomares-Montero)
  • VET, value generation and firm results: An empirical exploration from Spanish industrial firms (Angel Díaz-Chao, Mónica Moso-Diez, & Joan Torrent-Sellens)
  • Series index

List of contributors

Jean-Louis Berger

University of Fribourg, jean-louis.berger@unifr.ch

Sandra Bohlinger

Dresden University, sandra.bohlinger@tu-dresden.de

María José Chisvert-Tarazona

University of Valencia, maria.jose.chisvert@uv.es

Angel Díaz-Chao

Fundación SEPI FSP and Rey Juan Carlos University, angel.diaz@fundacionsepi.es

M’Hamed Dif

University of Strasbourg, dif@unistra.fr

María Reina Ferrandez-Berrueco

University Jaume I, ferrande@edu.uji.es

Dietmar Frommberger

Universität Osnabrück, dietmar.frommberger@uni-osnabrueck.de

Camilla Gåfvels

University of Konstfack, Camilla.Gafvels@konstfack.se

Michael Gessler

Universität Bremen, mgessler@uni-bremen.de

Philipp Gonon

University of Zurich, gonon@ife.uzh.ch

←7 | 8→Stefan Humpl

3s ResearchLab, humpl@3s.co.at

Stefan Kessler

University of Zurich, stefan.kessler@ife.uzh.ch

Fernando Marhuenda-Fluixá

University of Valencia, fernando.marhuenda@uv.es

Mónica Moso-Diez

Centre for Knowledge and Innovation, Bankia Foundation for Dual Training, mmoso@fundacionbankia.com/moso.monica@gmail.com

Davinia Palomares-Montero

University of Valencia, davinia.palomares@uv.es

Enni Paul

Stockholm University, enni.paul@specped.su.se

Matthias Pilz

Universität zu Köln, matthias.pilz@uni-koeln.de

Alicia Ros-Garrido

University of Valencia, Alicia.ros@uv.es

Lucía Sánchez-Tarazaga

University Jaume I, lvicente@uji.es

Florinda Sauli

Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, florinda.sauli@iffp.swiss

Joan Torrent-Sellens

Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, jtorrent@uoc.edu

←8 | 9→Javier Vila-Vázquez

University of Valencia, javier.vila@uv.es

Matilde Wenger

Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Matilde.Wenger@iffp.swiss


Apprenticeship in dual and non-dual systems: Between tradition and innovation

This volume adds to the ‘Studies in Vocational and Continuing Education’ series in Peter Lang. It engages in the series ongoing discussion on the roles and conflicts around vocational education and training, and more precisely with the tensions to which apprenticeship systems are confronted in the new scenarios of production and labour market relations.

An analysis shared by the academic community suggests that a large part of the success of a VET system depends on its capacity to respond to the needs of the context in which it is developed. Bearing in mind the historical tradition of education in that country is essential, in addition to the existing relations between the production and education systems. That is why this book provides a reflexive look at the answers provided by national VET systems with different traditions, especially regarding the relationships established with the labour market. Placing emphasis on the field of education or production entails educational models that are underpinned by different rationalities.

The stability of dual systems in countries such as Germany or Switzerland is undoubtedly the result of the continuous support from social agents and governments, who acknowledge the advantages of the dual system, particularly its benefits in the effective transition from school to work. The dual system in these countries is an effective instrument to integrate young people into the labour market, as the majority of these programmes consist of work-based learning. This contributes to a low youth unemployment rate in these countries, which, on the other hand, have a healthy production fabric. The more school-based VET, which is the case of the Swedish or Spanish systems, tend towards more extensive social and education objectives, but they encounter greater difficulties to adapt to the demands of the labour market. The example of France is very rich insofar there coexist a well-developed apprenticeship system with a school VET. The future of dual VET systems ←11 | 12→depends on their capacity to help guarantee professional competitiveness, while also guaranteeing the education level of the population.

Chapter 1 reconsiders the notions of alternance and apprenticeship, claiming the former as a pedagogical arrangement and the latter as a contractual relation that favours but not necessarily results in the former. It starts with an overiew of European welfare, transition, VET and upper secondary education systems and the relations among them, with a particular focus on where do dual VET systems appear. It then provides a review of classical and modern literature on learning from experience and specifically on work experience. This allows the author to differentiate alternance and apprenticeship. Upon this differentiation, the chapter covers what sorts of vocational knowledge are needed and favoured nowadays by labour markets and how well can different vocational education and training systems equip young people with such knowledge combining the workplace and the school.

The first section in the book addresses the ways in which apprenticeships are being challenged, reformed and adapted within those countries well known for their dual system as the dominant approach towards initial VET. Examples for Germany and Switzerland are dealt with here. The nature and scope of current challenges seems to be diverse and extends to different areas of the dual VET systems: the institutional (and its public VET policies), the educational (and the underlying quality of the dual) and the socio-technological (and new technologies) one. The review of these very diverse issues, but at the same time so interconnected, gives us a refreshing view of the ‘current homework’ for the modernisation and advancement of the dual systems that are most advanced. These challenges are basically three. First, it tackles the German challenge of modelling public policy on IVET and its potential transferability to other countries (as progress in the positioning of certain models and their underlying educational regimes), which will be dealt with in Chapter 2. A second challenge is ensuring quality which, although not new, still lacks validated and harmonised assessment schemes, and therefore requires further work, as pointed out in Chapter 3. Finally, the challenge of new technologies and how they could be assimilated in VET systems is discussed, especially concerning disruptive technologies, where the time vector is key to the effectiveness of VET system modernisation, as noted in Chapter 4.←12 | 13→

In Chapter 2 Sandra Bohlinger contributes with ‘Contextualising policy transfer initiatives in the field of vocational education and training,’ which seeks to enlarge the ongoing discussion on VET policy transfer in the scientific literature. The author aims at linking the field of policy borrowing and lending with policy transfer initiatives in the context of VET and apprenticeship training in the German-speaking countries. To this end, the chapter delivers an in-depth review of the state of the art of comparative analysis of education systems and public policy transfer approaches, on which to critically reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of existing theories of educational policy transfer and to align them with initiatives to reform or implement VET and apprenticeship training. By contextualising findings, the author proposes a comprehensive framework to understand the design of educational policy transfer with a focus on VET. This extensive and thorough analysis of the scientific literature on the transfer of education policies is a refreshing approach to educational comparative studies, including issues related to power relations and the subject of coercive decision-making.

In Chapter 3 Florinda Sauli, Matilde Wenger and Jean-Louis Berger present ‘What Constitutes Quality in the Swiss Initial Vocational Education and Training Dual System: An Apprentice Perspective’ which focuses on an important and discussed topic, namely quality in initial VET (IVET). Authors provide a wide overview on the Swiss context, both in terms of VET system and VET policy, framing the subsequent quantitative analysis on perceptions of IVET quality from apprentices enrolled in a dual IVET program. The quantitative study is conducted on a sample of 320 apprentices from the Swiss Dual system, considering two occupational fields, technical and retail ones. A thematic analysis was performed on data collected through open-ended questions. Results revealed that the quality of IVET was multi-layered and complex. Apprentices’ perceptions of high and low quality were grouped into three different levels of a more comprehensive system. The levels included elements referring to the learning objects, the social learning environment, and the IVET context. Differences in the perceptions of quality between learning sites and occupational fields were also highlighted, confirming the multifaceted dimensions of quality in IVET, the role of subjective perceptions, the differences among school- and company-environments, and sectoral differences.←13 | 14→

In Chapter 4 Stefan Kessler and Philipp Gonon present ‘The Disruptive Potential of Digitalisation and the Current Swiss VET Landscape,’ which seeks to discuss the disruptive potential of digitalisation in the current Swiss VET context. On the assumption that digitisation is regarded as having an extensive impact on the world of work and hence, affects vocational education and training, authors discuss on three levels: debates and concerns, politics and practices. Firstly, it presents a brief overview of the key aspects of digitalisation as discussed in the literature, regarding the future of work and the performance of VET as a training model. Secondly, authors argue that the level of educational practice is a promising field of study in assessing the disruptive potential of digitalisation, especially in dual training systems. To this end, authors examine four brief case studies where digitalisation has had some effect on the nature of work or the learning process, highlighting that VET providers (both schools and firms) take different courses of action with respect to digitalisation. Thirdly, digitalisation emerges to a focal point in the present political agenda. Besides the promises and premises of a fundamentally changing VET landscape, digitalisation primarily takes place as a gradual process of change. In conclusion it is argued that rather than a radical disruption, digitalisation represents an evolutionary development with core aspects of the system remaining largely the same.

The second section covers the ways in which different countries that are not known for having a dual system have introduced apprenticeships, as well as the efforts taken by dual systems, particularly the case of Germany, to make them available in third countries, as an example of globalisation of VET as a market product.

Chapter 6 opens the section and deals with international efforts to spread dual systems world-wide, in an attempt not driven by international institutions or European policies, but rather focusing upon efforts taken by a country like Germany, well positioned in the global competition. Dietmar Frommberger, Matthias Pilz and Michael Gessler, three prestigious professors at German universities and with extensive experience in the internationalisation of VET, provide a historical and critical review regarding the debates on the export and transfer of the German dual VET system. They clearly describe how Germany organises the cooperation to development of dual VET in other countries, ←14 | 15→analysing the generation of structures from a coordinated approach both at a political and academic level. Readers access a theoretical-conceptual as well as a practical analysis, in which the role of companies and the context is enhanced. The end of the chapter shows the difficulties of transferring the dual VET model to a greater extent than its advances.

This guiding thread takes us to Chapter 7, written by M’Hamed Dif, where there is a detailed explanation of how an apprenticeship system has coexisted in France, a country not usually identified as a dual system, in proper coexistence with a school-based VET system. More efforts should be taken to analyse and understand this coexistence in the light of the beginning chapter of the section. This chapter gives an in-depth description of the historical background of the VET System in France, the coordination promoted by the legislation between companies and education centres, as well as the instruments that make this possible. One of the main outcomes of this research confirms that apprenticeship obtains the best results from its education system with regards to access to employment. A system that is undergoing changes and updating, raising new questions about the benefits of the liberation of apprenticeship provision market through the Reform Act of the 5th September 2018.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2021 (July)
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 310 pp., 7 fig. col., 5 fig. b/w, 25 tables.

Biographical notes

María José Chisvert-Tarazona (Volume editor) Mónica Moso Diez (Volume editor) Fernando Marhuenda-Fluixá (Volume editor)

María José Chisvert-Tarazona is professor of the Department of Didactics and School Organization of the University of Valencia (Spain). Among her lines of research, vocational training, on-the-job training and higher education stand out. Mónica Moso-Diez is the Head and Principal Investigator of the Centre for Knowledge and Innovation in Bankia Foundation for Dual Training. Her main research lines are regional VET systems and innovation in Spain and VET data and indicators (VET Observatory). Fernando Marhuenda-Fluixá is full university professor in Didactics and School Organization in the University of Valencia, where he coordinates the research group Transitions (GIUV2013-093).


Title: Apprenticeship in dual and non-dual systems
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312 pages