Key Features of WBL
In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, acquisition of relevant skills is achieved through:
- Practical education and
- Work-based learning.
Practical education is an organized school form which allows students to acquire knowledge, skills and habits which are necessary to perform the work under the qualification, and enables them to quickly get involved in the processes of specific technologies of work. Practical education allows the students to acquire skills such as: team work, communication, organization skills, professional approach etc.
With the implementation of practical education, students get a clearer picture of the qualification they are studying and about the work they will be able to perform.
Practical training is implemented as follows:
- Practical education in school facilities (workshops, laboratories, school companies etc.);
- Practical education in real working processes i.e. in relevant companies.
Work Based Learning (WBL) is learning that occurs when people do real work. The work can be paid or unpaid, but it must be real work that leads to the production of real goods and services (ETF 2014).
WBL should not be confused with Practical Education, Work Simulation or other forms of ‘off-the job training’ which is traditionally provided by TVET schools in their own workshops and laboratories.
However, WBL can take place in a real company which forms an integral part of a TVET school.
The function, organization and contents of ferial (summer) practice is one type of WBL. It is organized after the end of the school year, and by rule, it is conducted continuously and in relevant companies. By exception, ferial practice may also be organized by the school itself if it possesses an organized and relevant production or other service related processes.
WBL is an educational strategy that provides students with real-life work experiences, with an opportunity to see how classroom instruction connects to the world of work and future career opportunities, and enables them to learn a variety of skills by expanding the framework of classroom learning and engaging in community.
WBL occurs in a work setting, typically at an employer’s worksite. The activities must be coordinated with school-based activities in an attempt to show students the “why” of what they are learning. WBL strategies provide career awareness, career exploration opportunities, career planning activities, and help students reach competencies such as positive work attitudes and employability skills.
The WBL experience may last from a few hours to hundreds of hours. Thus, for instance, observing the work usually lasts a half-day or a full day. At a large company, observation of the workplace could last for more than one day. Most forms of WBL last over 100 hours.
With the reforms in the four-year technical vocational education in the curricula, work-based learning is foreseen in the 3rd and 4th years. In the third year, the curriculum foresees 4 hours per week work-based learning or 144 hours per year, while in the fourth year 6 hours a week or 198 hours per year.
WBL can be tied to a specific course using the cooperative method, or can be independent from specific coursework. In cooperative education, WBL is tied directly to a specific course. This allows the teacher to have the students connect what they are learning in the classroom with what they are learning in the workplace. Job shadowing, mentorship, and volunteer learning are often not tied to a specific course and would be considered independent work-based learning. WBL experiences may be paid or unpaid. The companies may include different discounts or scholarships as a form of remuneration.
The TVET strategies provide an opportunity to apply several different types of WBL, such as:
- Business/industry field trips
- Cooperative education
- Entrepreneurial experiences
- Sandwich teaching
- School-based enterprise
- Virtual school-based enterprise
Practical training in the reformed educational programmes for vocational education for occupations (three-year education) is represented by 40% of the total number of classes and at least 1/3 or at least 12 weeks during the course of education the practical lessons should be realized at an employer’s worksite.