Author(s):Ursel Hauschildt (presenting), Iñigo Isusi, Adamantia Spanaka (presenting), Justin Rami (presenting), Klaus Ruth (presenting), Ruta Porniece (presenting)

Conference:ECER 2016, Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers

Network:02. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)

Format:Research Workshop

Session Information

02 SES 13 A, Partnerships for Lifelong Learning in Engineering and Technology Sectors - An Investigation of Integrated Learning Opportunities and Bridging Programs in Europe

Research Workshop


Room:Vet-Theatre 116

Chair:Marit Honerød Hoveid


Partnerships for lifelong learning in engineering and technology sectors - An investigation of integrated learning opportunities and bridging programs in Europe

Topic and Objectives

In recent years bridging programs and integrated learning opportunities such as dual study programs have become very popular in many European countries. Such cooperation schemes can be regarded as "partnerships for lifelong learning".

The proposed workshop will discuss these two models of cooperation between actors in vocational and higher education (institutions of technical and vocational education and training, companies providing in-company training, universities or polytechnics, chambers etc.) aiming at providing consistent and permeable educational pathways from initial training up to higher educational levels.

The project P4LLL-tec is supported by Erasmus + and investigates these two types of partnerships in five European countries, namely Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia and Spain. The research team will present its first findings in order to open up the discussion for other conference participants in this field of research. P4LLL-tec has only started in September 2015 but it is to be expected that first results based on a comprehensive desk research summing up relevant national policy backgrounds, as well as expert and stakeholder interviews in the participating countries will be available by the time of the ECER conference.


The described research refers to the area of technical professions in five European countries (Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia and Spain). These countries represent very different traditions of technical and vocational education and training that are as well based on diverse educational systems and structures. Whereas in Germany, partnerships of both types (integrated learning opportunities as well as bridging programmes) exist, there are examples of integrated learning opportunities in Latvia and Spain. In Greece and Ireland, it is possible to focus on bridging programmes. It is however intended to identify and to present examples of both types of partnerships in all five countries.

Workshop program and aims


The workshop aims at a debating the issues related to the successful organisation of integrated learning opportunities and bridging programmes in order to provide a more systematic knowledge base.

Among the key questions to be discussed during the workshop should also be the following:

-  How can employers' interests in a qualified workforce be reconciled with the career aspirations of the learners? In other words: do bridging and integrated learning opportunities take the interests of all groups into account and serves the aims of education as well as employability?

-  Will partnerships that connect VET and HE have a side effect that leads to a marginalisation of vocational learning?

The available evidence suggests that the value of VET as a learning pathway in its own right is compromised when it is associated with another qualification objective such as an academic degree. Learners in such programmes may consider VET merely as an inferior part of their tertiary qualification.


Provisional workshop program

1. Introduction into the topic: research within the Project P4LLL-tec (project background, aim, steps and methodological approach)- presented  by project coordinators (10 Min)

2. Country contributions: country specific overview, first results of stakeholder or expert interviews, presentation of relevant cases presented by country representatives of the project team

a – Ireland (10-15 Min)

b – Latvia (10-15 Min)

c – Greece (10-15 Min)

d – Germany (10-15 Min)

e – external papers form other countries
      (if applications from other conference participants apply to the topic)

3. Discussion (workshop participants and audience)


Methodology and work programme of the project P4LLL-tec

Subject 1:
Models of organisation and integrated learning opportunities and bridging programmes

1a) Via desk research based on literature and document analysis, an overview of the existing partnerships regarding integrated learning opportunities and bridging programmes is elaborated for all countries subject to this study.

1b) Guided interviews with experts and practitioners are conducted in order to support the findings and deepen the preceding analysis. Here, the target group is in a first step consisting of experienced researchers in the domain of TVET, educational and labour market research and in a second step of practitioners from educational institutions dealing with administration or monitoring of the respective partnership programmes.

Subject 2: Success and conditions of success (impact on lifelong learning)

2a) Case studies in each country are conducted in order to elaborate functioning and success of partnership programmes in more detail. The cases are selected in a manner that allows for an investigation of the diverse types (or subtypes) of partnerships for lifelong learning.

2b) In order to find out, whether partnership programmes have a different impact on the development of vocational commitment of learners than traditional programmes the project conducts commitment studies examining the development of vocational identity and occupa-tional commitment of learners.

2c) Parallel to the commitment survey a standardized survey of company representatives about the employer’s perspective on the performance of integrated education or bridging programs is carried out.

Methodologically, P4LLL-tec builds on and transcends the explorative perspective of preceding studies carried out by some members of the consortium by means of a research design that includes not only qualitative methods but also a strong quantitative component. A standardised employer survey and a commitment survey of learners is used to test some of the hypotheses derived from the findings of the previous study.

Expected Outcomes

The concept of the contribution is a workshop session. It is still too early to formulate findings from today's perspective.


“Partnerships for lifelong learning in Europe: Towards greater permeability”: Cedefop study with the contract no. 2012-0176/AO/ECVL/ILEMO-LZAH/PartnershipsForLifelongLearning/010/12

Author Information

Ursel Hauschildt (presenting)
University of Bremen
Institute Technology and Education
Iñigo Isusi
Ikei, Spain
Adamantia Spanaka (presenting)
Hellenic Open University
Justin Rami (presenting)
Dublin City University
Education Studies
Klaus Ruth (presenting)
Universität Bremen
Institute Technology and Education
Ruta Porniece (presenting)
Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia