• Sonja Marie Staffeldt
4. term, Learning and Innovative Change, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis examines the opportunities and challenges related to school-based apprenticeship as a learning context in the vocational education and training system in Denmark. Today, an increasing number of vocational students cannot get an apprenticeship in a company. Most of these students are offered the opportunity of an apprenticeship simulation, set up at the school instead. The fact that companies do not offer enough apprenticeships should not effect vocational students and their education seen from a societal perspective. Therefore it is crucial to the society and to the future workforce that students without an apprenticeship in a real company are being offered a qualified alternative. This thesis’ research is based on observations and qualitative interviews with students and their instructors. The research is focused round two different colleges – respectively hairdressing and car mechanic training. The purpose of the research is to explore how school-based work placement simulations impact the students and their learning.

The analysis is inspired by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger and their Theory on Situated Learning as well as selected concepts from Pierre Bourdieu's Practical Theory. The study concludes that the school offers a number of unique potentials as an apprenticeship context, but also, that school-based apprenticeship in some areas fall short living up to proper company-like conditions. Other studies in the field back this up.
The students in school-based apprenticeship work with two different kinds of tasks. The first kind of task is of a simple skill based practice routine character. The second kind of task is dealing with costumer relations. It seems there is a tendency for the students to be very concerned with especially the customer tasks. This can be understood as an indication that they are oriented towards tasks that have value for their future as trained professionals. It therefore seems essential to the students’ motivation that they have access to actual tasks – out side the simulated environment.
The students rarely work under time pressure and fixed deadlines. This means they have time to practice their technical and professional skills. The absence of no direct time pressure creates opportunities for in depth training and the unique opportunity to adapt learning methods according to individual needs. This means that the students generally have the opportunity to achieve a high level of technical skills. According to the students, the work environment in the school-based apprenticeship contrasts their experiences of real companies where time pressure is often a part of the everyday routine. This relates to the fact that the school-based apprenticeship takes place in the educational field, with no demand of economic profit.
The analysis examines the characteristics of the practice community in the school-based apprenticeship in contrast to the community of practice in a real company. The research finds that the compositions of participants are different in the two contexts, which creates different learning conditions. The school-based apprenticeship is dependent on the students to be on different experiential and skill levels to enable them to learn from each other. A widely used form of learning in the school-based apprenticeship is learning under guidance, where a more experienced student is teamed up with a less experienced student. In order for this to work, it requires the students to be on a different level of skill. The role of the instructors is primarily to provide guidance. For the community of practice to function this means that the students are dependent on being able to use each other as teachers.
In relation to the young people's legitimate peripheral participation in the school-based apprenticeship and in the companies, the research finds that there are apparent differences in the participation related to the two contexts. The school-based apprenticeship offers quick access to responsible and challenging customer tasks. This stands in contrast to in the real companies where it usually takes longer before a trainee is trusted with customer tasks. The school-based apprenticeship lacks the fully expanded practice, as it exists in the companies. However, the school-based apprenticeship presents a faster path to professionally challenging tasks of a more technically quality and lays the foundation for a more in depth understanding of the work it self.

Publication date17 Nov 2015
Number of pages127
ID: 222171370