Jyväskylä College together with its national network partners (Salpaus, Axxell and Tredu) arranged a study visit to the Netherlands in October 2014. The aim of the visit was to learn from the Dutch experiences of competence-based education and project-based learning. The group was led by Freek Seuntiens from the metalwork and machinery programme at Jyväskylä College.
In the Netherlands colleges (vocational and universities) and companies are working closely together on project basis. This gives schools and companies a financial benefit, as they say win/win situation. Schools cannot innovate so fast with the newest technology than companies. That’s why the students have BPL projects in the companies. Companies don’t always have the time or money to start, develop and/or finish a project. That’s why students are a good solution to their problem. Companies are also demanding students of the future from schools, this can only be realized by company internships.
We can learn a lot from the Dutch approach but be have to remember that schools in the Netherlands have been doing this problem or project based learning as well as competence based education for over 10 years already. We have to start from the beginning, and not jump too far ahead. First thing to do is get connections and small projects with our companies in Finland. We also should use the example of Rijn Ijssel College to learn how to work with companies inside projects. As many teachers said during our visit, in the Netherlands the government money isn’t enough, and without companies technical schools will disappear.
The main takeaways from the visit to the Dutch colleges are:
Money to finance the projects
Government funding has decreased and therefore, the VET college management is saving on everything possible. This means that projects sometimes don’t have enough money for materials, workplaces, meeting places, tools, etc.
Hours of teacher to guide the students
The schools are giving teachers less and less guidance hours, to save money. The
teachers that we have spoken to are experiencing increased stress because of the workload they have. They told that good guidance needs more hours than they can get right now.
Contacts with companies
In the beginning the colleges had to work really hard to get projects with companies.
Nowadays it’s easier because of the University, University of Applied Sciences and
vocational colleges are working together. Companies now have better understand of what the strength/profit of VET colleges school is in PBL projects.
Text and picture: Freek Seuntiens