Background: In Sweden, some occupations require a post-secondary apprenticeship (e.g. construction workers), while some do not (e.g. business and administration workers). Available research on post-secondary apprenticeship is sparse. To address vocational learning in post-secondary apprenticeships, this explorative study focuses on apprentices in the construction industry. The aim of this study is to identify how vocational learning is constituted within workplace activities.
Methods: This study aimed to follow up on a study of a former class of construction students who participated in project-based vocational education (Fjellström 2014). The study included 11 semi-structured interviews, which lasted 35-55 minutes, and a survey that related to 64 stated learning goals.
Result: The findings show that vocational learning involves performing tasks that challenge the apprentices to think and solve problems. This approach to the performance of tasks enhances productive learning where the payroll system appears to trigger a wide range of action. Furthermore, this study shows that, despite differences in the activities that are carried out at different workplaces, the learning outcomes are dependent on personal goals as well as indirect and direct guidance.
Conclusion: Although stated learning goals are highly valued, the apprentices have problems relating to them. Instead, interaction and guidance from more experienced co-workers leads to the development of learning outcomes. As described herein, vocational learning outcomes of post-secondary apprenticeships are complex and can be understood as being related to individual goals and workplace activities that interact and constitute vocational learning. Thus, this explorative study has identified four main standpoints that afford vocational learning in post-secondary apprenticeship: (a) the importance of guidance in the workplace, (b) the possibility of performing complex tasks, (c) the encouragement to develop new methods, and (d) the possibility of being a part of the building process.
vocational education and training (VET), construction worker, guidance, woodworker