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Collaboration for lifelong-learning and contract education: towards a competence development model
University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Production Systems. (LINA iAIL)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0086-9067
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. (LINA iAIL)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1403-5565
Linköping University, Linköping .
Mid Sweden University .
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2020 (English)In: VILÄR: 3–4 December 2020 University West,Trollhättan. Abstracts / [ed] Kristina Johansson, Trollhättan: Högskolan Väst , 2020, p. 26-28Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Competence development and continuous lifelong learning are increasing due to skill transformations in the surrounding world which have an impact on workplaces. Upskilling, down-skilling, re-skilling, and the need of totally new skills are intensified that changes the conditions for a sustainable work practice. Old academic degrees need to be updated and for those lacking one, employees are required to build up academic credits. A constant knowledge and skills development of employees are therefore vital for the changed work conditions, meaning for both the organization and for the individual lifelong learning. In such situation, the university can play asignificant role for educating and supporting the working life with higher education in forms that are adjusted to organizational competence needs. With contract education - CE, the Swedish universities can educate staff for competence development on all educational levels, even those without an earlier academic degree. However, only organizations (including private companies and public authorities) can commission a service from a higher education institution. Individuals are not allowed to buy a course place, which is regulated through the jurisdiction of Uppdragsförordningen 2002:760. Despite the many possibilities with CE to collaborate with the surrounding society, it put pressures on the university toorganize, support and create new routines for the teaching and administrativepersonnel for the contract educational process of customer dialogue, needs inventory, course design, implementation, and follow-up on initiatives.

Given such background, a collaborative development project between six universities in Sweden was conducted between November 2017 until January 2021. Overall aim was to increase the knowledge of CE by developing a collaborative model forcompetence development. The project was designed to enhance the knowledge informs of models, methods, and documentation in three development areas for CE; 1) organization and work processes, 2) customer dialogue, needs inventory and course design, and 3) incentives and collaboration skills. Both the conditions of the university’s internal abilities, restrictions, and structures (i.e., area 1) as well as the incentives and capabilities for external organizations (customers) involved in the activities (i.e., area 2), have been in focus. Area 3 concerned the teacher’s abilities to grant collaborative qualifications by teaching and engaging with external partners.

In an initial case study of area 1 and 2, and we asked: What are the university conditions for organizing contract education, and how is the educational process directing and supporting the working life knowledge requirement?

The second study focused on area 3 and we asked: How does the university grant collaboration skills and qualifications for teachers and leaders involved in contract education?

Study one summarized eight universities responses showing that four universities have a centralized organization for running CE of which two universities have a university enterprise for CE. The other four universities are decentralized organized. It is not clear which organization is most beneficial. However, it seems that central functions are essential for a long-term external collaboration with key customers. The variation of administrative support is large, and there are also many universities lacking a full-fledge support organization for developing sustainable internal routines as well as external collaborations. When it comes to the educational process of routines for CE, most universities in the study show a very similar process, concerning the steps of curricula development, contract development, calculation, and student admission etc. However, there are various efficiency between the universities built on volume and experience of CE, which effect the time from initialization to evaluation of a CE course. The second and small document and interview study (six interviews) was targeting the teacher’s incitement, skills, and their ability to grant contract education work as accreditation in their professional academic career. This study shows that universities generally lack support for skills acquisition regarding “collaboration” skills both for professional development and further qualification. It also shows that the six included universities in the project, have diverse documentation and work practices for collaboration skills accreditation. However, this study and the project itself have pushed, the included universities to start up evaluation of their documents and routines around accreditation.

A summary report for the whole project including a competence development model and methods and as well as findings from the two studies, raises the overarching need to develop the external collaboration university – working life, as well as knowledge about the university conditions for planning, developing, and running contract education as one successful competence model for lifelong learning. Contract education is therefore argued to support work-integrated and lifelong learning through collaborative forms between university and the working life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: Högskolan Väst , 2020. p. 26-28
Keywords [en]
Competence development, lifelong learning
National Category
Learning
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-16234ISBN: 978-91-88847-86-7 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-16234DiVA, id: diva2:1520309
Conference
VILÄR. 3–4 December 2020 University West,Trollhättan
Available from: 2021-01-20 Created: 2021-01-20 Last updated: 2023-06-02Bibliographically approved

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Hattinger, MonikaCarlén, Urban

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