3.3 Cooperation between schools and companies
3.3.1 The Learning Agreement between VET Schools and companies
To ensure smooth implementation and high-quality of WBL, a broader framework than in-classroom VET training is needed. There is a plethora of factors that can contribute to the above possible benefits for participants, especially bearing in mind that companies are not official learning providers, like schools and colleges, and thus they are not directly under the law of governments. For this reason, in Western societies formal WBL is governed by law, with the aim of providing a clear and consistent legal framework to ensure high-quality outcomes for all participants. Effective legislation is used to safeguard the basic rights and clarify the basic responsibilities of WBL participants acting as a facilitator and a regulator of the whole process. The WBL content, the learning path, the objectives, the recording of the process, as well as the assessment, are to be agreed upon by the student, his/her representatives (meaning the teacher or the tutor responsible for the WBL), as well as the employer (Steedman, 2012).
Bearing in mind the aforementioned, it is obvious that there is a need to have some kind of “learning agreement” or “learning contract”, where the participants will negotiate and agree on the course of the programme at the outset. This learning agreement must cover the whole programme and must be based on the student’s profile, his learning needs and personal objectives, as well as the company’s culture and regulations. This agreement aims to satisfy both the needs of the student and the employer, and ensure their smooth collaboration with the assistance and monitoring of the tutor.
The “learning agreement” is going to be used as a reference guide for planning and implementing the WBL. It should be signed at the starting point of the WBL and it can be changed and updated through the duration of the placement, if needed. In general, this agreement should contain initial information concerning the WBL programme; the participants’ details; an initial assessment of the student’s competences in specific fields; the general aims of the programme; the programme delivery details, meaning information on how the WBL programme will be delivered, monitored and assessed in the school, as well as the workplace; some information about the company, terms and conditions, health and safety regulations; the plan of monitoring the programme; the responsibilities of the participants; details about how the assessment is going to take place; and finally specific learning targets that will be connected to actual working tasks. It should be mentioned that the WBL “learning agreement” can, after the end of the programme, act as a reference for future use by the student.