On-the-job trainers, key-persons in inclusion and exclusion processes

Lamamra, Nadia and Besozzi, Roberta and Duc, Barbara (2018) On-the-job trainers, key-persons in inclusion and exclusion processes. In: ECER Conference, Bolzano. (Unpublished)

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In Switzerland, 2/3 of the young people are engaged in a professional education after school, and in particular in dual VET, which alternates between periods of learning in vocational schools and periods of training at the workplace (SERI, 2017). In addition to this high rate of participation, the system is backed by recognition at national and international level (OECD, 2009). It is also viewed positively when considering how it supports smooth transitions from school to work (Cohen-Scali, 2000) and represents a particular instance of occupational socialization (Dubar, 1996). Dual VET is known for its tight relationship with the labor market (Hanhart, 2006), visible at several levels: a practice-oriented training (Hoeckel, Field & Grubb, 2009); the central position of the companies (SERI, 2016); a direct confrontation of the apprentices to the production needs; a training logic oriented toward immediate “employability” after graduation (Masdonati, Lamamra, Gay-des-Combes & De Puy, 2007). That means a pregnancy of certain labor market’s logics as productivity and efficiency, but also a risk of increasing certain other logics as selection, discrimination and exclusion. Although host companies play a decisive role in dual-track VET programmes at upper-secondary level, not much research has taken them as objects of study. Moreover little is known about those who play a key role in the learning process: on-the-job trainers (Mulder, 2013; Baumeler, Lamamra, & Schweri, 2014). The research this contribution is based on (FNS 100017_153323), aims at focusing on these “forgotten actors” of the dual VET, who occupy a pivotal position as workers and trainers. Therefore their objective is not only to train, but also to socialize the apprentices in order to bring them to professional integration. In the current contribution, our research questions are following: first, how on-the-job-trainers’ participation to the recruitement process facilitates the first transition thresehold or makes it difficult? Second, as primary agents of occupational socialization, how do they prepare young people to enter the labor market (second transition threshold)? Third, by contributing to the transition process, how do they play a key-role in the inclusion and exclusion processes attached to it (Bergman et al., 2011). On the theoretical level, this contribution refers to the sociology of socialization (Darmon, 2016; Lahire, 2013). It puts the emphasis on the occupational socialization, that integrates different aspects: first, socialization to an occupation (transmission and integration of knowledge, know-how, soft skills specific to an occupation, but also confrontation to norms, values, rules and codes within a professional field) (Dubar, 1996); second, socialization to work (learning of constraints, appropriation of the codes and logics of the professional sphere, such as hierarchy, work organization and division) (Moreau, 2003); and third, organizational socialization (getting familiar with the values and the culture of the company) (Kramer, 2010). This contribution also refers to the literature on transition that points out the lengthening and complexification of this process (Bergman et al., 2011; Häfeli & Schellenberg, 2009; Masdonati, Lamamra, & Jordan, 2010). Based on this literature, two different definitions of transition are adopted. On the one hand, transition is considered as a process, which begins at the end of compulsory school and comes to an end when entering the labor market. On the other hand, it refers to specific moments, traditionally seen as two thresholds: Transition 1, located between the end of compulsory school and vocational or general upper-secondary education; Transition 2, between the end of upper-secondary education and employment. Both definitions will be useful in the current contribution.

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