What it`s all about...

EADS/Airbus is building planes and parts for the Aeronautic and Space Industry in four European countries: France, Germany, Spain and the UK. Traditionally and as it is well known, the apprenticeship and training system in these countries take very different courses. A basic difference can already be found on the systematic level: whereas in Germany training regulations are understood as standards, in the UK minimal requirements or general conditions are set, which means that the margins for the training companies are bigger.

The question of how apprenticeships in aerospace professions - on the here and now of systematic differences - are organized at the sites Toulouse (F), Bremen (G), Getafe (E) and Broughton (UK) was answered at first in the LEONARDO-pilot-project AEROnet. At this point not only questions of duration, learning locations, degrees and so on were answered, but also the question of for what purpose and what kind of results are expected, was examined.

The spectrum of tasks of experienced, skilled work answers the question of the goal of the apprenticeship. In the AEROnet-project the lists of TPTs, Typical Professional Tasks, emerged. At the German site of Bremen for example the work of aircraft mechanics in the production technology field contains 9 of the 12 professional tasks determined from all aircraft mechanics (in the specializations production technology and maintenance) with a clear demarcation to the tasks of the specialization turbine technology and electronics for aircraft systems. In Toulouse, only 5 of these 12 TPTs are being tought in an equivalent four years apprenticeship. Another five TPTs are mastered by skilled workers, but are in practise handled by young employees who received just two years of training. The vertical division of labour thus is very similar in Germany and France, althought in the latter country a horizontal division has been added.

At the conference we will be able to present all data from the different countries and by this the sum of core tasks in the aeronautic professions can be determined on the base of this best-practice-studies. The concept TPT enables, even demands, a further distinction. Criteria of this further diversification vary from TPT to TPT - but are always related to the concrete empiric design of work processes at the sites. According to our results these partial TPTs, which are also describing holistic work processes, are forming the smallest tangible unit in the sense of competency fields. A further differentiation, for example in actions, knowledge and partial competencies would shorten the characteristic of a task in a non-acceptable way.

At this point we are able to erect a composition of the two approaches (the concrete process of apprenticeship and the TPTs of the skilled work):

  • which of these partial-TPTs are not only aim, but also component of the apprenticeship at the four sites?
  • And: how is the successful compliance to one of these components by an apprentice measurable?

To this end we have developped an instrument, orientated at the concrete partial TPTs. The tool will be presented and discussed in the paper and presentation. It is called "evaluation tasks" and confronts the apprentice with a real work task. The solution he is able to present gives an account of the level of competency he achieved up to this point of training.

Methodology or methods/research instruments or sources used:

Our methodology is based on few hypothesizes which lead to two steps of empirical research. The first step was dedicated to identify the demands of modern skilled work in the sector of the European aircraft industry: Important standards for VET can be set by the competences that are required of skilled workers in relation to work processes.

The first methodological principle on which we base the AEROnet-project was this coherence. The second is correlated: The approach followed by the project is fairly independent of a particular national education and training system. Though there are differences between national ways of qualifying regarding the demands of qualifications there is a high similarity to be identified in the tasks of modern industrial work (hypothesis of a structural reference between tasks and competencies). There are two more hypotheses which we assume to cover this idea of reference: A: Raw material, technologies and processes are available all over the world - they tend to become the same everywhere. The quality of products and work processes are expected to develop to congruence. This shows an impact on the qualifications required by modern work processes (hypothesis of convergence emerged by universalisation).

In opposition to that we have formulated another hypothesis B: Such tendencies of universalization have to be adapted before they take effect. The basis of any adaptation is given by cultural traditions f. e. expressed in the diversity of school systems and VET (hypothesis of divergence emerged by adaptation).

The demands, induced by modern skilled work, were identified depending on the typical tasks empirically to be done in the professional practice inside European aircraft production. The second instrument of the used methodology is using evaluation tasks. Instead of analyzing "ready mixed competencies", and also regarding the particular interest in improving VET performance, the best methodological way seems to analyze competencies by observing them in the period of their emergence. Doing so means: to expose those apprentices to competence demands who haven't finish learning by giving them real work tasks as evaluation topic. Real tasks that are taken out of the production process and that would also be a challenge for skilled workers.