In order to obtain national qualifications (NQs) in Norway, like a "fagbrev", students must pass a theoretical and practical exam. All type of student groups must solve the same type of 5 hour long theoretical exam.
The current aquaculture VET system in Norway leading to (NQ), requires that staff from the farms may document 5 years of relevant experience before they start on their final practical exam. It should be noticed that that is only the practical exam that requires 5 years of experience. The theoretical exam may be taken much earlier by students that have much less than 5 years with relevant experience. Students age 16-20 must take a fish biology course. VET students do not take that course.
Training offered through the apprenticeship system and to staff from industry:
The project proposes a new solution to challenges that many aquaculture VET teachers in Norway probably are aware of. The potential gap between the quality in the aquaculture VET training offered to staff from industry, compared to the training offered to those who are age 16+ and take an apprenticeship-based education.
This is in particular addressed by the proposed pre-testing of knowledge and skills before classes may start for staff from fish farming companies that want to start on a course preparing for the theoretical exam in the national qualifications (NQ). The pre-test is going to be designed by applying multimedia material, thus supporting staff that are challenged and faced by learning disabillities. The test may also be applied to control and verify the achieved knowledge and skills towards the end the course. This offers the aquaculture VET schools the potential to carry out post-testing of skills and knowledge during for instance the onsite gatherings. PLI from Scotland will assist in this development, since they have several instructional designers employed.
The project proposes a new way to train the cooperative and collaborative skills of staff at the sites. This is important in order to support and strengthen a community of staff that help each other to develop, establish and share best practices. The reason is that the staff on the sites on a daily basis must provide solutions to new challenges and new problems. By offering solutions that include best practice learning, the companies may for instance improve their productivity, they may reduce the environmental footprint from the production by developing joint green skills and they may apply ICT in a more effective way by improving how staff apply iCT on a daily basis. The proposed method that apply open cases in VET courses leading to NQ, will help establishing this. Staff will get used to work together with staff from other farms, even competitors, thus reducing the threshold to contact them when new problems arise. It is all about creating a secure zone where staff feel secure when they contact the other farms.
It should be noticed that fish farming companies have been working together for years, sharing knowledge, production process data etc., in order to solve large challenges, e.g. like the current Sea Lice problem which the industry face. This method is, however, based up on a top-down approach. This project proposes an alternative bottom-up methodology that may be applied to solve problems that are no so large, but which occurs much more frequent out at the farms. To develop such a framework for carrying out "micro inventions" will be supported by the production companies, since they encourage their staff to take responsibility and contribute in offering new solutions to challenges and problem that arise during the ongoing production.
Documentation of knowledge an skills
Separate test pilots will investigate how new types of cases may be applied to encourage staff from different farms to work together in order to solve the open problems outlined within the cases. The goal is to exchange experiences, investigate and discuss what may be solutions to solve problems and challenges, thus developing their own best practices. The early school leavers will have a particlar important role here, as the companies reqruit them to help solving the daily problem solving processes occuring at the marine cages. It is also important that staff get familiar to contact staff at other farms, either inside their own company or towards other companies. This process will help reducing the threshold related to contacting staff at other farms, thus introducing and supporting sharing of best practices within the fish farming industry.
The Norwegian model for NQ within aquaculture is based up on an assumption that 5 years of relevant and documented experience is enough in order to pass the practical part of the exam leading to "fagbrev". Fish farming companies in Norway, however, encourage their staff to start on the theoretical part of the NRQ a long time before their staff has achieved this experience. As a consequence, they have to take aquaculture VET courses without having obtained the expected experience that is foreseen for the practical part of the exam for "fagbrev". This project is going to develop a new pre-test in order to investigate and document what knowledge and skills the staff actually have obtained when starting on their aquaculture VET courses leading to the theoretical exam in the NQ. This pre-test will be developed in such a way that people with dyslexia or those who are early school leavers, may answer the questions by to a large extent applying graphical elements.
Staffs competence in fish biology is one of the most important areas at the marine cages. However, it is not part of the aquaculture VET program offered to staff from fish farming companies. The pre-test will inform the VET schools about the status in this area for those who are early school levers or those who struggle with dyslexia. The project will investigae if some of the cases may address fish biology.
The current NQs (fagbrev) in Norway lacks unitization of the curriculum, like the Scottish Quality Authority SQA has developed for Scotland. Unitization has some benefits. It became easier to apply e-learning within VET, since it to a larger degree will be possible to offer VET at the time when it fits the industry best, e.g. during the winter where the salmon grows slowly due to the cold temperatures and lack of sun. In addition, it will be easier to offer training directly towards locations (farms) with special needs, e.g. to strengthen collaboration and cooperation between farms, by use of e-learning. This project will propose a module-based aquaculture unitizated VET system for Norway and Iceland.