Master craftsman training “reloaded”

July 18, 2018 | Luxembourg’s business sectors | Christopher Arimont

Restructuring of the master craftsman’s certificate is proceeding according to plan

Structures and systems must be flexible. If they are not current and up to date, something has to change. That is what is currently happening at the Chambre des Métiers (CDM) in the field of the master craftsman’s certificate.

There have been preliminary deliberations on the restructuring of the vocational qualification for craftsmen for a while. In 2013, the idea emerged of improving the quality of the training and making it more attractive. A study conducted previously confirmed the need for reform. At the end of 2015, the final concept, on which the pilot project was based, was submitted to the minister of education. This pilot project is geared towards the food industry and serves as a basis for reform for all other artisanal areas.

This pilot project is geared towards the food industry and serves as a basis for reform for all other artisanal areas.

Strategic positioning

The master craftsman’s certificate signifies vocational development in a specific area. Specialisation is good, but it must stay ahead of the times and adapt to a changing market and current customer requirements.

“The last major reform to the master craftsman’s certificate took place more than 20 years ago,” Marc Bissen, senior official responsible for the “Brevet de Maîtrise” at the CDM, reports. “But a lot has happened in more than 20 years. We wanted a more conceptual reform that addresses the demands of the modern working world as well as current customer requirements.

“The master craftsman’s certificate should be made accessible to a broader target group in the long term and reflect new trends as well the increasing digitisation of companies, for example. For this reason, the CDM launched a pilot committee, in which the director of vocational training at the Ministry of Education, among others, participates.

“The work is being done on different levels: the master craftsman’s certificate must gain more recognition in the educational landscape in Luxembourg. In Germany and Austria, it is already recognised as equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. The aim is to establish it as such in the Luxembourg Qualification Framework (LQF) as well. The size of the country is to our advantage here, as it makes it possible to implement this quickly, relatively simply, and probably better.

“A valuable by-product of the implementation of the reform is the improvement of communication between the different areas of work:”

“It has been found that the cross-occupational combination of some areas of activity creates synergies. These provide a strategic added value that meets today's needs, as well as customer and market demands, and thus benefits everybody.”

Marc Bissen, senior official responsible for the “Brevet de Maîtrise” at the CDM

“The learning activities and content offered in the master craftsman training course have to be revised, forms of assessment have to be adapted accordingly, and course leaders must be qualified and supervised in order to guarantee high quality in the long term.”

Restructuring in the food industry

The pilot group started to implement the conversion in March 2016. The group consisted of representatives from various occupational groups as well as teachers and interdisciplinary experts. In the first phase, the new master craftsman training and the elaboration of a learning outcomes-orientated curriculum were organised. “Instead of reforming all the craft sectors at the same time and subsequently discovering that the reform and the associated method could have been even better, the pilot project was launched in one area only,” says Bissen.

“The theoretical training consists of three interdisciplinary blocks and one subject-specific one. The interdisciplinary training, for example, includes food safety and nutritional training, covering topics such as hygiene, traceability, allergens, food intolerance, labelling, and nutritional value calculation. Production technologies, processing steps, process optimisation, warehouse logistics, infrastructure, as well as the use of equipment and machines are also taught in the interdisciplinary blocks.

In addition, the master craftsman candidates learn about the specific management of food businesses, which includes elements such as health and safety at work, professional mathematics and calculation, marketing and negotiation methods, introduction of e-business applications, as well as management of catering events.

In addition, the master craftsman candidates learn about the specific management of food businesses, which includes elements such as health and safety at work, professional mathematics and calculation, marketing and negotiation methods, introduction of e-business applications, as well as management of catering events.

“The specific learning block contains specialist knowledge and food conceptualisation elements and deals with commodity and raw material theory: that is, with the handling, the characteristics and freshness criteria, as well as recipe design. This block consists of three activity-specific parts: baking and confectionery, butchery, and fine dining. In the theoretical part, the master craftsman candidates participate in all three areas and must also take an examination in all these areas. The reason for this is the provisions of the Settlement and Training Act, which covers all areas of activity in the food sector. The future master craftsmen should therefore be given the opportunity to expand their product and service offer at will. As far as the practical part is concerned, everyone can choose their specific subject area. After passing the practical examination, the candidates receive their master craftsman’s certificate in the food trade with the respective specialisation.”

New approach: better quality and more attractive

“The main question was: What should a master craftsman be able to do upon completing the qualification? Until now, we only focused on [theoretical] content when training people for the master craftsman’s certificate,” Bisser continues. “With the reform, however, we are embarking on a different course. In the first phase, the individual learning outcomes were defined, which is very complex, since the level, depth, and complexity of each individual competency must be determined. In a second phase, the examinations were adapted to correspond to the learning outcomes. A third phase focused on the development and structuring of learning activities in order to achieve the defined learning outcomes.

“The learning plans were completed at the beginning of 2017. A great concern was that the combination of the areas could result in the loss of important elements. Exactly the opposite has happened: The training covers all the traditionally important topics, contains 70% new content, is thus modern and comprehensive, and offers attractive perspectives.

“The variety of learning activities requires new learning paths. For example, a digital learning platform is being developed, resulting in e-learning modules, an app for preparation for examinations, as well as the use of various online forums to better control learning processes and to capacitate the future master craftsmen for self-organised, time- and location-independent learning. The curriculum for the master craftsman’s certificate is transparent and clear so that everyone knows exactly what to expect. The first courses in the food trade start in autumn. Two further reform projects are currently under construction. There is a two-year transitional phase, during which those who have already started their training can complete it according to the existing rules or change to the new system.

“A clear advantage of the new master craftsman training is the accessibility for individual candidates, since the content is interdisciplinary and not necessarily only occupation-specific. In addition, the improvement to the examination system offers new, interesting perspectives. It has become more modern and has knocked down obsolete walls, which is a very positive development.”

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