When training is producing or the paradoxes of being on-the-job trainer in Swiss dual VET.

Besozzi, Roberta and Lamamra, Nadia and Perrenoud, David (2017) When training is producing or the paradoxes of being on-the-job trainer in Swiss dual VET. In: JVET Conference, Oxford. (Unpublished)

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Swiss VET is very popular with 2/3 of the young people choosing to engage in a professional education after school. In this track, a majority choose dual VET, which offers a central position to the companies. This position within the system emphasizes the essential tension of the dual VET between two different logics, production and training. The research, this contribution is based on (FNS 100017_153323), aims to focus on on-the-job trainers, key actors of the dual system (Baumeler et al., 2014). Focusing on them is particularly relevant as they occupy a pivotal position as workers and trainers; it allows to question the tension mentioned above in their everyday working life and analyze it, so as to identify its main paradoxes. On the theoretical level, this contribution refers to the sociology of work. We’ll focus on everyday working-life constraints, on how on-the-job trainers deal with them. Without focusing on the organizational level, the specific characteristics of the companies (size, sector, etc.) will be considered so as to identify the production/training’s tension (Moreau, 2003). The originality here is to discuss it from on-the-job trainers’ perspective, while literature has focused on the apprentices. The research is based on qualitative methods and data. 80 semi-structured interviews and 35 observations were conducted in companies of different sizes and belonging to various sectors of activity in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. These data have been subjected to content analysis with NVivo. Our analyses confirm the recurrence of the production/training’s tension in the trainers’ everyday working life. This appear through their discourse about cumbersome administrative work tied to training an apprentice, their complaints concerning the lack of time, or the difficulties they have in dealing with their two hats. Our results also point out that most of the time production has the supremacy: even in big companies having training centers untied to the production sites, labour market’s typical logics (productivity, efficiency, competition) can be found. Therefore, we can formulate a hypothesis: the tension is not between training and producing, but between training to produce and acting in production. Although, training is a major concern in the trainers discourse. Indeed, training is part of their hybrid professional identity, it gives meaning to their everyday job, makes tolerable their working conditions (marked by fragmentation, lack of time and recognition), and a symbolic recognition. Our analyses allow us to refine our understanding of VET. If production is central for the companies, training (or the discourse on training) is essential for on-the-job trainers.

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