The quality of in-company training – perspectives and effects

Krötz, Maximilian

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-642754
Document Type: Doctoral dissertation
Year of publication: 2023
Place of publication: Mannheim
University: Universität Mannheim
Evaluator: Deutscher, Viola
Date of oral examination: 15 March 2023
Publication language: English
Institution: Business School > Wirtschaftspädagogik, insbes. Ausbildungsqualität und Kompetenzentwicklung (Deutscher 2016-)
Subject: 330 Economics
370 Education
Keywords (English): vocational education and training , company training , training quality , drop-out , competence development , quality perception , perspectives
Abstract: Vocational education and training plays a key role in providing a skilled workforce and in fighting youth unemployment (e.g., Dornmayr, 2016; OECD, 2019). However, vocational training systems throughout the world experience problems with ensuring high quality training and limiting drop-out. Additionally, gaps prevail in research on the impact in-company training quality exerts on the desired outputs, such as high competence levels and low drop-out rates. Resultingly, vocational training is sometimes referred to as a ‘black box’ (e.g., Beicht et al., 2009; Nielsen, 2013). Furthermore, studies suggest there are perceptual differences between different groups of actors, for example between trainees and training personnel. These different perspectives make interpreting the relevant research difficult since previous research has commonly concentrated on the trainee-related mono-perspective. Against this backdrop, further research aiming to overcome both shortcomings, (1) the mono-perspective approach that does not meet the challenges of an interactive training and (2) insufficient insights on the effects of in-company training quality on outputs (e.g., competence, drop-out), would be a good step toward making vocational training an attractive path for young adults and companies. To contribute to this objective, the four papers of this dissertation follow a two-step approach. Papers 1 and 2 investigate potential differences in the perception of in-company training quality between trainees and trainers. Papers 3 and 4 analyze the role of in-company training quality for specific outputs, namely drop-out intention and vocational competence. As theoretical foundations, this dissertation applies a pedagogical-sociological view on in-company training, mainly resting on and combining two models: Lempert’s (1998) interactionist framework for professional socialization and Tynjälä’s (2013) workplace learning model or, more precisely, Böhn and Deutscher’s (2019) adaption to the in-company training context. Methodologically, a quantitative empirical approach using the survey instrument “VET-LQI” (Böhn & Deutscher, 2021) is applied to two data sets: (1) A bilateral online survey on in-company training quality (papers 1 and 2), involving 311 trainees and 36 trainers from the same commercial companies, and (2) a two-year longitudinal project (papers 3 and 4), involving training quality surveys and competence tests, producing samples from 562 (Paper 3) and 458 (Paper 4) industrial business management trainees. The data sets are analyzed via, for example, regression and correlation analyses, structural equation modelling, and t-tests using the software R and SPSS. Paper 1 presents a novel multi-perspective approach to training quality using negative differences in perceptions between trainees and trainers. The analyses indicate that a multi-perspective assessment could be valuable particularly in cases where conflict potential is decisive: an increase of 10.6 percentage points in variance explanation of trainees’ drop-out intentions could be demonstrated compared to the conventional mono-perspective approach. Paper 2 complements that comparison by adding the trainer perspective, underlining that the multi-perspective approach shows the highest correlation to drop-out intention. Moreover, the paper reveals significant perceptual differences between trainees and trainers for 10 out of 15 quality criteria for in-company training: While the participants generally considered training quality to be relatively high (except for Autonomy and Involvement in Expert Culture), possibly due to relatively good training conditions within the sampled occupations from the business management domain, the trainees judged in-company training quality to be significantly lower than did their trainers. The differences in perception originate from different sources: a suboptimal choice of occupation and the year of training seem to increase differences whereas trainees’ socio-demographic characteristics and company size show no effect. Paper 3 operationalizes a four-directional approach to drop-out intention and indicates that the upward, downward, and horizontal (company vs. occupation change) directions of drop-out intention constitute distinct measures. The findings emphasize that in-company training quality appears to play a crucial role in the emergence of drop-out intention, showing a significant relation to all four directions, especially to the horizontal drop-out types. However, the relatively low explanatory power for upwards and downwards drop-out intention (R² < .1) force the conclusion that other factors might be missing. Additionally, more parsimonious regression models revealed a two-tier scheme with direction-typical factors and Social Involvement as overarching influencing factor. Further aspects such as trainees’ aspirations and education exert effects as well. Lastly, the findings of Paper 4 indicate that in-company training quality as a whole construct significantly impacts the development of vocational competence in both dimensions: While variance in domain-specific competence development can be explained to 27%, the model for domain-linked competence explains 86% of the variance (including control variables). Furthermore, the findings suggest that, for the domain studied, vocational competence can develop relatively independently of the individual starting level and background characteristics. The starting points, however, are influenced by the educational level, aspirations, and mathematical interest. Overall, the findings shed light into the black box of vocational training by yielding insights into perceptual differences of in-company training quality and the impact training quality exerts on key output targets such as drop-out (intention) and competence development. From a pedagogical perspective, the findings underline the importance of implementing a broad training quality assurance. In this regard, a practice of steady exchange between trainees and trainers based on a comprehensive quality conception should be established. Additionally, a socially involving environment as well as the training personnel’s professional pedagogical competences appear to be crucial to achieving high trainee competence development and low dropout intentions for in-company training.
Translation of the title: Betriebliche Ausbildungsqualität – Perspektiven und Wirkungen (German)

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