We created a visual summary of the main results that was shared via e-mail with students and graduates that took part in the surveys.
Authors: Iván Diego & Mar Romero (Valnalón)
TRACKTION is officially coming to an end at the end of August after three years of exciting and hard work. Valnalon, our project coordinator, writes the first post of a blog series aptly titled “The learning journey of…” where project partners recap on the work undertaken, main achievements,challenges and plans for the future.
Local action group
Our first and smartest move was to engage a group of 7 VET schools in the region with the support of CPR Avilés, one of our regional Teacher Training Centres. The Local Action Group met on a monthly basis to discuss project developments. Teachers in the group ellaborated responses and suggestions to the documents made at the european level, took active part in the adaptation and translation of TRACKTION questionnaires and last but not least, they were key in granting us access to VET students and graduates throughout the piloting phase.
Connecting with students/graduates
We have gone at great lengths to make a meaningful connection with VET students and graduates. More often than not graduate tracking initiatives offer little explanation on the purpose and uses of data collected. We had a full GDPR statement in our survey, of course, but, let’s face it, our target group would never take the time to go through the whole text. So we had 30-min classroom sessions with all groups involved at the beginning of the pilots in which we explained in clear and simple terms not only why we were collecting destinations data, but also how and with whom we will share it. Students were also given the opportunity to ask questions and with all that information, they gave their consent. But the connection does not stop here. At the end of the pilot, we designed a visual summary of the main results that shared via e-mail with students/graduates in the sample.
Exceeding initial expectations
The timely release of the EC report “Mapping of VET Graduate Tracking Measures in EU Member States” (EC, 2017) and the detailed picture of the VET graduate tracking measures across Europe it provides was certainly inspiring for us. However, we felt it offered just a partial picture in countries where VET competencies are decentralized and graduate tracking is mostly done at regional level. This problem was particularly evident in the case of Spain which prompted us to undertake some additional research so as to to offer a more accurate view of the reality of VET graduate tracking measures carried out in the 17 autonomous regions of Spain. The Recommendations established in the aforementioned EC Report guided our analysis. This work led to the release of an intellectual output of the project that was not included in the proposal: the report “Mapping of VET Graduate Tracking Measures in Spain” (Romero & Diego, 2019) that we were invited to present at the premises of the Spanish Ministry of Educaton in July, 2019.
Liaising with key stakeholders at regional level
Finally we’re certainly pleased to highlight the ongoing support of key stakeholders in the region. Javier Cueli, director of VET in Asturias Regional Department for Education, convened a series of meetings with us to keep track of TRACKTION project developments. He gave the opening speech at our final dissemination event in July 2020 where we presented the project intellectual outputs to a group of 30 VET practitioners, employer representatives and researchers. Teresa Ayesta, from the Regional Employment Service, proved pivotal in granting us access to administrative data of a small sample of graduates in order to assess the potential of combining survey-based and administrative data. The results were really promising and we have incorporated this option in the second campaing of our tracking protocol in Asturias.
Plans for the future
Some of the alumni stories we collected for the website flagged up an interesting and under-researched phenomenon in our region: the current movement of students and gradutes from HE to VET. Previous research has mainly looked at transitions from VET to higher education, but there has been little focus on movement in the other direction. Informal conversations are currently ongoing in order to design a research project Some of the tools and actions developed in TRACKTION project (surveys and alumni stories) will certainly come in handy to determine the volume of this flux and more importantly, the reasons behind it. Finding ways to bring into the loop the opinions of employers is another potential spin-off project.
It’s certainly hard to encapsulate in a short blog all the action that has taken place but these have been for sure some of the main highlights. Hope you have enjoyed reading this and we’re looking forward to set eyes in the next entry of this blog series.