Costs, benefit and quality of vocational education by Felix Rauner, Institute Technology and Education, University of Bremen 2007
(Kosten, Nutzen und Qualität der beruflichen Ausbildung, Institut Technik und Bildung, ITB-Forschungsberichte 23/2007, Universität Bremen)
This article deals with quality in the dual vocational training.
The author himself has done the following abstract:
“In the debate on the costs and financing of dual vocational training methods for the measurement of training benefits play a crucial role. A research project of the Institute Technology and Education (ITB) on costs, benefit and quality of vocational education and training led to the development of a self-evaluation tool for training enterprises. This tool allows not only for the estimation of training costs and benefits, but also for the assessment of the quality of training. The tool is based on four input criteria and the two output criteria “vocational proficiency” and “commitment”. By means of this method It is also possible to analyze and illustrate the relationship between quality and profitability of training both for the entire training period and for each year of the apprenticeship. The piloting phase of the project has confirmed the hypothesis that the profitability grows with increasing training quality.”
The author points out the advantages of a dual vocational training system. He starts with describing the number of first-year students in OECD countries, which in several countries lies around 60 and more per cent, whereas it in Germany and Switzerland is around 40 per cent. Both countries have highly developed dual vocational training systems. According to several comparative studies this is a competitive advantage. Advantages of this system are: relatively low youth unemployment and a good social integration of the youth into the society.
The author continues that the costs of the dual education are in dispute. The survey “Education in Germany” (Bildung in Deutschland, Konsortium Bildungsberichterstattung, 2006) has found out that they are the highest in comparison to others in Germany. In Switzerland there is another picture. According to a survey of the University of Bern a win of 400 Million francs was created by the dual vocational training for the companies, despite the fact that the apprenticeship pay is higher in Switzerland. Studies of the ITB show that the same could be the case in Germany if learning in qualifiying and value-adding work processes would become the core of a modern process oriented vocational training – in other words, if the quality of the education would be higher.
The importance of a self evaluation tool to determine the quality and profitability of in-firm training.
When a company trains skilled labour it acts economically rational if the benefit of the education at least outweighs the costs. Under the conditions of the international competition it lies in the interest of the companies to achieve a high quality of the education, a high vocational engagement and a self financing education. However, the praxis shows that only few companies undertake cost-benefit analysis on their vocational training. Out of this fact arises the research interest to develop a tool for the vocational training, which enables the companies to get information on the profitability and quality of their education.
The self evaluation tool quality-benefits-costs (QEK – Qualität, Erträge, Kosten)
This report gives a detailed description of this tool. In short: the estimation of costs is based on a method developed by BIBB (Federal Institute for Vocational Training). These are composed of the staff costs of the trainees and trainers, capital expenditures and material costs as well as other costs.
The benefits for the company arise from the productive activities of the trainees. The education benefit matches the sum the company would have to pay to employees, if it would not educate trainees. Above that an opportunity benefit arises through the takeover of trainees in employment relationships. This benefit is due to the absence of recruitment costs, periods of vocational adjustment, employee turnover through misappointment. How the benefits for the company are calculated is described on pages 11-16 in this report.
The estimation of the quality of the education is described on pages 16 to 25. The quality criteria of QEK are chosen so that two quality aspects are covered, namely:
A) The quality of the vocational development and
B) The quality of the education form.
A) This is the subjective dimension of the vocational education and refers to the interactive aspects of the development of a vocational identity and vocational proficiency. These development processes are covered by the indicators (output indicators)
- commitment and
- vocational proficiency.
B) This is the objective dimension of the vocational education and comprises the following quality criteria: (input indicators)
- Learning in the work process: productive work time
- Professional education level: quality of work tasks
- Self dependent learning: the completeness of the work
- Learning in business processes: process oriented education
The QEK tool encompasses these six quality aspects to self evaluation of the education quality. These are described in detail on pages 17 to 25. Each of these six dimensions of the education quality is standardized in a way which allows them to be pictured on a scale. A pilot test was made with 30 companies to test the comprehensibility. Some aspects are still being investigated such as the creation of a quality index. (pp 23-25)
Summing up the results: the quality-profitability-matrix (QRM – Qualitäts-Rentabilitäts-Matrix)
The four-field-matrix QRM allows it to sum up all evaluations results in one point. The operator sees how quality and profitability correspond. The values of the 5 scale can be interpreted like school results on a scale from 1.very good to 5. unsatisfactory. Charts to this are shown on page 27 to 28. These QR charts are especially suitable for benchmarking. The companies can compare their results with the average results of a branch, region and so on. When QRM is used over a longer time also the tendencies to change in the in-firm training concerning quality and profitability show.
The concept of the vocational education and training of learning in qualified work processes takes a central stage as well by the estimation of the education costs and benefits as by that of the education quality. QEK is a tool for analyzing and illustrating the quality and profitability of the in-firm training.
QEK was developed with the goal to make the discussion about costs, benefits and quality more objective and above all in order to give the company a tool, with the help of which they can recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their education. In this way they can trigger innovations to make the education profitable and keep a high quality level.
Long version: to be added soon