Vocational Training in Research and Practice

The journal reports on research findings and practical experience with issues from vocational education and training, thus fostering an exchange between education research, day-to-day education practice and education policy.

Current issue

Examinations (BWP 6/2019)

BWP 6/2019

The examination system conducts over 400,000 final examinations per year and thus represents an important area within vocational education and training. As well as providing information on the skills, knowledge and competencies of individual candidates, examinations also reflect the effectiveness of the VET system itself. Ongoing quality assurance is required if they are to satisfy both of these functions. This issue of BWP investigates the question of how the examination system can keep pace with the shift that is taking place in VET. How can research findings be used to inform examination practice, and how are changes in training practice reflected in the way in which examinations are designed? What requirements are arising in terms of the organisation of examinations, and what demands are being made with regard to the competencies of examiners, most of whom are unpaid volunteers? This issue of BWP looks at these questions and other related topics.

Editorial

Hubert Ertl

Strengthening the voluntary role of examiners – one of the many challenges for a modern examination system

Vocational education and training in figures

Katrin Gutschow, Barbara Lorig

The extended final and journeyman examination has become established

The extended final examination was first piloted in five occupations in 2002. It was subsequently included in the updated Berufsbildungsgesetz (BBiG) [Vocational Training Act] in 2005 and in the Handwerksordnung (HwO) [Crafts and Trades Regulation Code] as an alternative to the traditional model of the intermediate and final/journeyman examination. But in how many recognised training occupations is this examination structure now found? And how many newly concluded training contracts in occupations governed by the BBiG/HwO does this figure represent?

Special Focus

Heiner Kilchsperger

Pitfalls along the route to competence-oriented examinations

Experiences from Swiss vocational education and training

The aim of the 2004 Berufsbildungsgesetz [Vocational Training Act] was to facilitate a greater diversity of forms in Swiss vocational education and training in order to examine the employability skills of the trainees. Although it proved possible to generate impetuses for developments, some of these failed to come to fruition because of their ambiguity and the underlying competence concept. This article looks at where ambitious pedagogical concepts are genuinely determining and leaving their mark on the examination structure and also investigates the areas in which they are descending into empty legitimising formulae under the pressure of administrative, financial or institutional interests.

Viola Deutscher, Esther Winther

Central final examinations in vocational education and training – a plea

Whereas endeavours to centralise examinations are becoming apparent in general education in the wake of considerations regarding fairness and quality, the VET sector is currently discussing greater decentralisation. Against this background, the article discusses points of criticism regarding central final examinations and contrasts these with the benefits. The status of research ultimately suggests that the current examination offers a substantial degree of plausibility. Nevertheless, development prospects are opening up, and the article concludes by highlighting these.

Natalia Lohmeyer, Stefanie Velten

The ASCOT+ research and transfer initiative launches with six projects

Six projects to develop computer-based learning and test instruments for subsequent piloting in training and examination contexts have been receiving funding since May 2019 as part of a transfer initiative by the Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft und Forschung (BMBF) [Federal Ministry of Education and Research]. This article explains the background to the initiative and looks at its objectives. It also states which projects are being financed and outlines the contribution they may be able to make towards resolving current challenges in training and examination practice.

Thomas Ressel

Turning the final vocational examination into a test of dual competence

Final examinations in dual vocational education and training are currently facing huge pressure to modernise. The project “Employee examination system representatives in the digital world of work” (APdA), which is funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) [Federal Ministry of Education and Research], has undertaken a detailed investigation of these changes and has presented a proposal for the further development of examinations in the dual system in the form of a paper entitled “Dual competence testing”. This article highlights the background to the project and the main demands being made.

Mette Lorentzen, Petra Vogt

“No skilled workers without examiners”

Recruitment and training of examiners at the Flensburg IHK

The Flensburg Industrie- und Handelskammer (IHK) [Chamber of Commerce and Industry] needs a large number of examiners to sit on its 213 examination boards and to conduct around 2,300 initial and advanced training examinations. Skilled workers need motivation to perform this task, which is voluntary and unpaid. Companies also need to be prepared to release them from work duties. This article explains a pool of measures which may facilitate timely recruitment.

Philipp Berchtold

Examiner training in Switzerland

Initial and continuing training for examination experts from the EHB

The Eidgenössisches Hochschulinstitut für Berufsbildung (EHB) [Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training] acts on behalf of the Federal Government to offer courses for examination experts and for chief experts in basic vocational training qualification procedures. This article presents the various types of course provision which prepare skilled workers involved in the qualification process for the different tasks and functions they are required to perform.

Patrizia Grün, Armin Speidel, Meta Cehak-Behrmann

Structuring oral examinations in a language-sensitive way – a balancing act between empathy and conformity with examination regulations?

The rising number of examination candidates who have acquired German as a foreign or second language means that examiners are increasingly facing situations in which language barriers make it difficult to assess the professional competence which is the object of the respective oral or practical examination. The Ulm Chamber of Commerce and Industry has joined forces with the Frankfurt Fachstelle für berufsintegriertes Sprachlernen (FaberiS) [Centre for Occupationally Integrated Language Learning] to offer a seminar for examiners which addresses this issue. The article presents the background to the seminar, its design concept and initial experiences of implementation.

Monika Bethscheider, Anke Settelmeyer

Language-aware examinations – of whom and how?

When considering how examination tasks can be formulated in a comprehensible way, attention normally focuses on persons who have learned German as a second language. However, native speaker candidates also benefit from assignments which are free from avoidable linguistic hurdles. This article states the reasons why the debate surrounding language-aware examinations is once again being pursued more vigorously and presents suggestions how examination tasks can be expressed in an understandable form without reducing the technical requirements.

Anja Schwarz

Examining additional qualifications in training

Industrial metalworking and electrical occupations acting as a stress test?

Additional qualifications provide an opportunity to enrich training in an occupationally and company specific way and also enable new technologies to be integrated into a programme as extra options. They have formal regulations, are the object of a supplementary examination by the competent bodies and are certified separately. This article describes initial experiences of the examination of new additional qualifications in the industrial metalworking and electrical occupations and in the occupation of mechatronics fitter. These are attracting particular attention and are a source of high expectations in the course of ongoing training for digitalisation.

Thomas-Sebastian Bertram, Mirjam Brautmeier, Angelika Holstein

Written examinations and quality assurance in the craft trades

Establishment of national examination task databases at master craftsman and advanced training level

The establishment of examination task databases means that the chambers of crafts and trades now has a growing supply of assignments at its disposal for use in written master craftsman and advanced training examinations. All tasks have been developed via a process of national networking and correspond to jointly agreed quality criteria. The examination boards remain fully autonomous with regard to the selection and structuring of the assignments set. This article provides an insight into the procedural stages involved in drawing up examination task databases and shows the role played in quality assurance by the Zentralstelle für die Weiterbildung im Handwerk (ZWH) [Central Agency for Continuing Vocational Education and Training in the Skilled Crafts]. Clear advantages of such a collaborative approach towards the development of examination tasks are displayed in the form of a high degree of legal certainty of the assignments and a reduction of the amount of pressure placed on examiners, who are unpaid volunteers.

Friedrich Hubert Esser, Maria Kortz

Reintroduction of mandatory master craftsman licences in the craft trades?

On 9 October 2019, the Federal Cabinet adopted a draft law which aims to reintroduce so-called mandatory master craftsman licences for twelve of the 52 trades in which individuals are currently permitted to run companies without any requirement to be in possession of a full master craftsman qualification. This article presents the key parameters that have informed the legal, economic and vocational education and training debate surrounding reintroduction of compulsory master craftsman status. It begins by explaining the prerequisites under which mandatory master craftsman licences are legally permissible in the first place before going on to highlight the significance of the master craftsman examination for effective training output in the craft trades sector from a VET perspective.

Other Themes

Jost Buschmeyer, Florian Gasch

Acquiring competencies for the digital transformation in a self-directed way

Digital media and technologies are changing the world of work. The high degree of dynamism is making it difficult to forecast the competence requirements which workers will face. The MEDEA project, which is funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) [Federal Ministry of Education and Research], has been piloting a training concept which pursues the goal of fostering the self-learning competencies of employees rather than focusing on the imparting of specific technological contents. The aim is that participants will be able to do much more than merely cope with the digital transformation by becoming actively involved in helping to shape it. This article presents the concept before going on to reflect upon the experiences which have emerged from the piloting.

Occupations

Markus Bretschneider

Different kinds of advanced training regulations

Differences between regulations of the competent bodies and of the Federal Government

Regulations governing advanced vocational training exist at both a national and regional level. What aspects form the basis for deciding which of the two alternatives is the more appropriate? Taking a quantitative analysis as its starting point, this article addresses the essential differences between both options and investigates the form which quality assurance takes. Future advanced training regulations leading to the qualification of certified restorer in the craft trades are taken as an example to show how numerous chamber regulations are transferred into federal regulations.