Avans University of Applied Sciences and Kadans have been operating in close partnership with one another for quite some time now. Kadans gives lectures, holds a seat on the Advice Committee Workgroup (WAC), provides students with projects, and offers annual traineeship places. This prompted us to interview Mr Tönissen (Director of the Academy of Construction & Infrastructure -Avans University of Applied Sciences) with a view to revealing the significance of the partnership. His story is as follows.
“Education is continually changing, due primarily to the constantly changing market. And the market is currently highly turbulent, which has obliged institutes like ours to adopt a more in-depth approach to competences. We therefore also endeavour to directly involve those operating in the field in question as members of the Advice Committee Workgroup (WAC). They advise us on the matter of the competences required. This enables us to teach not only theory, but also to devote additional attention to the way things are done in the field in the form of traineeship and practical assignments. Students consider this this highly beneficial. After all, it implies that they are not limited to studying ‘stuffy’ books, but actually become acquainted with the latest issues in the field.
Heijmans is one of the parties which has been responsible for the provision of such a practical assignment. It actually sent its own people to carry out the assessment at the end of the module. Students therefore received interesting and amusing feedback, while the bloopers were also highlighted. It is particularly favourable that we have such partners.
Each lecturer has their own network, which implies that Avans has established literally hundreds of contacts in the field. However, there are very few that are as actively involved as Kadans Vastgoed. We therefore continually have to consider the point at which a partner actually becomes a strategic partner.
During this latest period of recession, however, we have noticed various signs which indicate that not only intermediate (MBO) but also higher vocational education (HBO) is now struggling in the Netherlands. There is an increasing shortage of both higher vocational traineeship and graduation places. This was previously primarily the case in intermediate vocational education. Kadans Vastgoed is therefore highly committed and dedicated in its response to this call in our view. In fact, it has performed absolutely exceptionally in continuing to provide traineeship and graduation places as well as participating in the WAC, where it invariably proves well-prepared and does not hesitate to pose critical queries and/or comments. Partners in the WAC, such as Kadans, are exceptional in their commitment to fulfilling social responsibilities.
The amount and the balance of theory and practical aspects that a course comprises will nevertheless always remain a topic for debate. However, both practical experience and knowledge are absolutely vital. The idea of setting up a pool of partners, which future students seeking traineeship place might be prompted to approach, is also being carefully considered. This would help avoid the problem of students simply accepting a traineeship with a firm in the neighbourhood for the sake of convenience, instead of pursuing one which actually meets the requirements and standards of the student in question. Furthermore, the very broad range of courses currently available does not render it any easier to make the right choice in terms of both quality and the appropriate discipline. We therefore aim to reduce the range considerably. We supply tomorrow’s ‘workers’. The students on the course receive solid basic training, which they can immediately put into practice on the job,” according to Mr Tönissen.