Dual model of vocational education and training
Top-class vocational education and training is an essential part of delivering high quality and outstanding performance. Our standards in this respect are high – not only in Germany, but around the globe. We are bringing the proven dual model – based on the close integration of theoretical and practical forms of learning – to all our sites.
Iván Vendrell quickly crosses the workshop at the SEAT vocational school to join his fellow students. In the hall next door, Débora Ocaña stands in front of a machine tool that she has just programmed, tracking its movements and making notes. “Perfect. Exactly how I wanted it to work.” The sparkle in her eyes shows just how pleased she is. You only need to watch Débora and Iván on this completely ordinary Wednesday morning to see the passion they bring to their work. They are proud to be learning their trade at SEAT.
This applies in particular to 17-year-old Iván, who is qualifying to be a motor vehicle mechatronics technician. He is one of the first young people to have started a dual model of vocational education and training at SEAT. In September 2012, the car-maker became the first large company in Spain to introduce this successful model, which combines theory and plenty of practice. In the past, the standard three-year apprenticeship at SEAT included 600 hours of practical instruction. Now the training involves 1,700 hours of work at the company and in its qualification workshops. This allows Iván and the other apprentices to gain experience in their future professions at an early stage. And it is rounded off by another 600 hours of project-based training in which they work on orders for in-house customers.
SEAT’s new vocational education and training program also gives apprentices more time to try out what they have learned, and that is motivating. Electronics apprentice Débora is fascinated by the technology involved in modern automobile production. She likes to tinker and wants to know exactly how everything works. “Although I knew in theory how robotic welding worked, I only really understood it here on the shop floor.”
Iván too feels most at home in the workshop. He proudly points to the small metal stairs he milled in the third week of his apprenticeship. They are a testament to the meticulousness and dedication with which Iván is preparing for his career. He approaches his second great passion – breakdancing – in just the same way. Each step, each turn has to be perfect. He regularly meets friends after work to learn new moves and styles.
Many of his friends wish, they had an apprenticeship like Iván’s. Spain has the second-highest youth unemployment rate in Europe. The Spanish government is supporting the new dual model of vocational education and training by allowing the apprentices to be integrated into production operations at the plant. This was previously not possible. Students at vocational schools could only gain practical experience through internships. Today, the work entrusted to SEAT’s apprentices includes producing special parts for the model making department.
For SEAT and the Volkswagen Group, sound qualifications are first and foremost an investment in their own competitiveness. That is why the carmaker is exporting the dual model of vocational training and education system to all its locations around the world – China, India, and the USA are joining the twelve European countries that have already rolled out the program. At SEAT in Spain a total of 167 young people began their apprenticeship in line with the new curriculum in 2013.
The launch of the dual system was accompanied by the introduction of the remuneration policy practiced in Germany, which has different pay grades for apprentices in different years of their training.
SEAT is planning to offer permanent employment with the company to all its apprentices who successfully complete the course.
167 young people are currently engaged in the dual model of vocational education and training at SEAT.
For Débora and Javier, memories of their first exciting days as apprentices are not quite as fresh. Débora, a confident 22-year-old, is already in the third year of her apprenticeship. She was a little nervous about her first hands-on experience on the production line at the plant. So she was glad that, like all apprentices at SEAT, she could rely on the advice and support of her mentor.
Débora will also be one of the first to sit two exams in 2014 in line with Spanish and German guidelines (the latter in conjunction with the German Chamber of Commerce). This way she will end up with a dual qualification that again underlines the quality of the training she has received.
Last year, 20-year-old Javier Sánchez completed his training as an industrial mechanic and toolmaker. Now he speaks from experience as an employee at the press shop in Barcelona when he says: “We learn faster than other apprentices because we specialize earlier – that’s an unbeatable advantage in the world of work.”
This smart young man is not the first skilled mechanic in the family. His father runs a small machine shop and taught Javier how to handle tools as a boy. These days, though, it is Javier who gives his father tips as they talk shop about the quality of the various tools, and sometimes he even helps finance a new addition to his father’s array of tools.
“The dual model of vocational education and training is a real boon for us. The close link between theory and hands-on practice ensures that our future employees have a high level of expertise”, says Manuel Moreno, who is responsible for initial and in-service training at SEAT Personnel Management. But it’s not just SEAT that benefits – quality vocational education and training for its young people ultimately also strengthens Spain’s industry as a whole.
1 – Iván Vendrell
2 – Débora Ocaña
3 – Javier Sánchez