Unit 3. Methodological Context: How to integrate cultural and ethnic diversity in WBL

The methodological context of the present handbook focuses on how to facilitate the integration of cultural and ethnic diversity in Work-Based Learning.

The process for the development of this unit consists of two steps:

  • First, critical aspects for the integration of interculturality in WBL have been identified through the analysis of the contents developed within the two previous units: Work-Based Learning (work context) and Interculturality (theoretical context)
  • Secondly, a mapping of methodological recommendations for the integration of interculturality in WBL has been carried out. These methodological recommendations follow the structure of the critical aspects previously identified. Mapping has been developed be means of methodological recommendations provided by partners, stakeholders and collaborators of the project, especially those integrating the national Expert Board Committees. Furthermore, methodological recommendations have been tested and partially developed during the pilot phase of LINK-INC project.

Critical aspects can be understood as those relevant elements (hot spots) which can be managed in order to incorporate an intercultural approach in WBL. Critical aspects will allow professionals, managers and policy makers working with cultural and ethnic minorities in WBL to incorporate or reinforce elements, contents, approaches and tools to facilitate the management of multiculturalism in WBL.

Identification of critical aspects

The identification of the critical aspects for the integration of interculturality in WBL has been the first step of the process for the development of the present unit. This section offers a summary and brief description of the main areas where WBL professionals should influence – or put the focus – in order to improve the participation of migrants and ethnic minorities in WBL.

Critical aspects have been classified through three different perspectives of analysis:

  • Related with the context where WBL happens.
  • Related with the participants involved in WBL.
  • Related with the process of design, implementation and assessment of WBL.



1. Programme

The specific kind of programme in which WBL are provided can directly promote or hamper the participation and integration of migrants and ethnic minorities on WBL. Interculturality must be observed as a relevant factor from the design/selection of the WBL program to be applied.

  • 1.1. Programmes in which learners are legally employees
  • These programmes are strongly based on the work context (formally or informally) and may lead to obtain a formal national qualification (this will facilitate labour integration of migrants after WBL).

  • 1.2. Programmes in which learners are legally students
  • These programmes are highly based on the educational sphere, and, in most cases, a majority of the time is spent there rather than at work places (these programmes can be less interesting for first generation of migrants, more focused on searching for a job, and more adjusted for second generation, aimed at studying).

  • 1.3. Borderline cases
  • Virtual firms and training firms that are attached to educational institutions.

  • 1.4. Other Programmes
  • Those programmes aimed at teaching learners about work rather than teaching them to do work, such as work shadowing and work experience.

2. Type of WBL
In this section only the main types of WBL have been included, those that are more related with LINK-INC project.

  • 2.1. Formal apprenticeships
  • Formal apprenticeships implies a formal contract among learner and employee (migrants will need work permit) and are habitually linked to a recognised qualification (which facilitates labour integration of migrants after WBL).

  • 2.2. Informal apprenticeships
  • Informal apprenticeships are based on an informal agreement (migrants without work permission can participate) but there are not formal qualification after that.

  • 2.3. Internships
  • Temporary position on a job with an emphasis on the WBL. Internship are compulsory for certain jobs in order to be qualified (can be interesting for second or more generation of migrants, and those interested in professions requiring this period).

  • 2.4. Traineeship
  • Consists of a training course with certain work experience, which allow future work or access to an apprenticeship (can be interesting for second or more generation of migrants, and those interested in accessing to later apprenticeships).



3. Professional roles involved
The description of the main roles generally developed by WBL professionals may help to identify how interculturality can be incorporated by these professionals

  • 3.1. Trainers
  • Their main role is to instruct learners in the skills of the specific field of training. Commonly they are required a certificate in teaching and VET specific field (interculturality can be incorporated in these training)

  • 3.2. Tutors
  • Their main role is to contribute to the acquisition of work competencies by the learners in the company, in accordance with the expected qualification (intercultural approach can be built around coaching methodologies)

  • 3.3. Mentors
  • Their main role is to enable and encourage the learner/employee by giving the right proportion of direction and emotional support (intercultural approach can be built around mentoring methodologies)

4. Professional profiles involved

Another critical aspect is related with the degree in which the professional roles describe before rely on professional profiles with a develop competence profile and required official qualification, as well as identification of skills gaps in managing of interculturality among these profiles.

  • 4.1. Competence profile
  • In general, WBL professionals should be competent in a mix of technical skills, soft skills, communication skills and intercultural skills. The level of achievement of the professional profile for trainers, tutors and mentors will influence their capacity to manage interculturality (especially those skills related with deal with challenging behaviour, open-mindedness and the ability to make the learner feel welcome)

  • 4.2. Skill gaps
  • This is an especially relevant critical aspect: the identification of skill gaps in managing of interculturality in WBL among trainers, tutors and mentors (since it allows to design a more focused strategic intervention on the basis of the previously identified skills gap).

5. Profile of learners

Depending on the different types of WBL, learners can be perceived mainly as employees or mainly as students, through formal or informal processes of WBL.

  • 5.1. Learners as employees
  • Learners have a contract (or agreement) and spent most of their time in a work center. Duration and routines of the WBL process are strongly linked to work sphere. Formal process tends to be linked to a recognised qualification.

  • 5.2. Learners as students
  • Learners spent most of their time in classroom. Duration and routines of the WBL process are strongly linked to educational sphere. In some cases, students have strong connection with formal VET system obtaining official accreditation.

  • 5.3. Formal/informal
  • Analysing the kind of relationship between the learner and the work/education center and the opportunities and restrictions related with each kind, may offer different solutions for the implementation of interculturality in WBL.


6. Programme

Interculturality needs to be incorporated from the conception and design of WBL programmes.

  • 6.1. Design/select the adequate programme
  • WBL must be understood as a combination including: a process of lifelong learning, active labour market measures and mainstream VET at all skill levels. The designed/selected WBL programme must have into account how interculturality can be integrated in these dimensions, on the basis of the identified needs of migrants and ethnic minorities.

  • 6.2. Consider learning strategies
  • Include the appropriate mix of learning strategies to help participants to learn about work, learn about particular jobs, learn about the skills needed to perform specific jobs, and learn about how to move between jobs (again, on the basis of the identified needs of migrants and ethnic minorities)

7. Curriculum

Adopting a learning outcomes or competencies-based approach is the most recommended way to proceed when developing a WBL curriculum. This approach will facilitate the integration of intercultural skills when developing the curriculum, as well as the identification and valuing of what learners know, understand and are able to do – regarding the management of interculturality – after completion of the learning process.

  • 7.1. Definition of learning outcomes
  • This is the most relevant step to elaborate the curriculum. Learning outcomes must be defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competencies, which need to incorporate the intercultural approach in the very definition of these terms.

  • 7.2. Development of training contents
  • WBL professionals should be provided with specific recommendations on how to incorporate interculturality when developing training contents. This can be done integrating cultural competencies throughout all the sections (transversally) or by means of specific intercultural contents (modular approach).

8. Teaching/learning methodologies
Besides the type of WBL (mainly apprenticeship, internship and mentorship) different teaching and learning methodologies can be used in WBL, such as job shadowing, service learning, school-based enterprise, cooperative education, entrepreneurial experience, etc.

  • 8.1. Teaching methods and tools
  • Selection of the most appropriate teaching methods and tools must have into account those aspects related with interculturally. Learn by doing is in the very nature of WBL, but also other approaches need to be analysed and considered, like learn through reflection, self-awareness of learners, collaborative process, peer learning and other tools and methods aimed at promoting an intercultural approach.

  • 8.2. Learning styles
  • From learners’ side, WBL implies accepting the responsibility for their own learning process, as well as being exposed to a variety of ways of learning: experiential learning, conventional learning, instructional learning, reflective learning and relational learning. To integrate interculturality here, WBL professionals need to be provided with approaches for the promotion of the appropriate(s) learning style(s) among migrant and ethnic minorities.

9. Assessment strategy
Assessment strategy must allow WBL professionals to evaluate if learners have achieved the learning outcomes, in a clear and measurable way, explicitly aligned with the learning process. It is highly recommendable to include assessment strategy in the learning agreement or contract.

  • 9.1. Assessment methods
  • Interculturality needs to be considered during the selection of the assessment methods to be used: self or group reflection, peer evaluation, case study, research project, portfolio of evidences, simulations, etc.

  • 9.2. Assessment results
  • Assessment results in WBL can be easily divided into two types, those that are the products of the period of work itself (reports completed in the job, leaflets, webpages, presentations to colleagues), and those that are extra pieces of work (portfolios, reflections, videos of practice).

10. Supporting students

This is one of the most relevant critical aspects to be considered, since implies direct and oriented support of our target groups (migrants and ethnic minorities) by means of WBL professionals. This is the most direct way to promote the participation of migrants and ethnic minorities in WBL, as well as to facilitate their social and labour inclusion.

  • 10.1. Role of trainers
  • Trainers are the first WBL professionals directly working with migrants and ethnic minorities. They manage the learning process (from formal education system perspective) and evaluate the acquisition of competences among these target groups.

  • 10.2. Role of tutors
  • Tutors usually plan, monitor and evaluate the whole process of WBL (in collaboration with trainers and mentors) and they provide support to learners by means of tutoring services and individualized assessment.

  • 10.3. Role of mentors
  • Mentors support learners from several perspectives: emotional and psychological support, challenging in practical experiences and support of career development. Support provided by mentors is aimed at the achievement of learners’ personal and professional growth.

  • Peers support
  • The relevance of peers support need to be considered as this is one of the most common learning methods in most forms of WBL, especially in informal ones. Intercultural competencies should be worked in group and among all learners.

11. Supporting WBL professionals
As mentioned before, the roles of WBL professionals are crucial for promoting the participation of migrants and ethnic minorities in WBL, and to facilitate their social and labour inclusion. These professionals need to be provided support from different approaches in order to facilitate the successful development of their crucial roles.

  • 11.1. Organisational culture
  • Intercultural competences must be developed and fostered within the organisational culture. WBL professionals should be provided with conceptual knowledge, methodological support and practical tips and recommendations for the management of interculturality in WBL.

  • 11.2. Training WBL professionals
  • Trainers, tutors and mentors working with migrants and ethnic minorities in WBL should be provided with specific training addressing intercultural competencies and the management of interculturality. The definition of learning outcomes provided in the IO.2 Training Curriculum, as well as the tools and methods included in the IO.4 Toolbox, can be a useful tool for the training of WBL professionals.

  • 11.3. Networking
  • Another critical aspect to be considered is the necessity of promote the connection and interaction between WBL professionals in order to create professional networks with a focus on interculturality. This is especially relevant since there are not so many experiences, researches or documentation aimed at addressing the cultural and ethnic diversity in WBL