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International Vocational Training Cooperation: Success in Education Export

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) cooperates with many countries in the area of vocational training. It supports German providers of initial and continuing vocational training in developing the rapidly growing international education market. In bilateral working groups under the leadership of the BMBF, German representatives and their corresponding international partners discuss current developments in vocational education. In this area, Germany contributes to finding solutions on the basis of its world renowned dual system of vocational education and training. In addition, the BMBF maintains dialogues in educational policy with a variety of other countries.

Starting shot fired for a European Commission vocational education and training alliance: Working together to provide the young generation with prospects

Six EU countries want to work closely with Germany to reform their systems of vocational training and education. On the invitation of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Slovakia and Latvia, in association with the European Commission, signed a memorandum in Berlin on 11 December 2012. It includes many concrete measures for introducing a vocational education system based on Germany's model. The goal is to have 80 per cent of all young people in the EU employed by 2020. In EU countries like Greece and Spain, current youth unemployment rates are above 50 per cent, and across Europe nearly one in four adults under the age of 25 are without work. At 8 per cent, Germany's youth unemployment rate is the lowest among EU countries - a standing attributed to the dual system of education and training, which is closely linked to industry and the job market.

The European education ministers have agreed to optimize their national systems of vocational education while creating the basic conditions for a European Vocational Education Area. In doing so, the mobility of young people and employees in Germany for training or employment is to be strengthened. For the initial phase, the participating countries have agreed on the following concrete steps:
  • 30,000 exchanges (internships, training phases) will be realized.
  • 30 regional vocational training networks will be created with German involvement.
  • Six political consultancy projects will be initiated.
  • A minimum of 10 study trips will allow experts in the action fields specified by the memorandum to exchange ideas and gather information on site.
  • A German pool of consultancy experts and a peer learning platform will be created for coordination and successive development of cooperation.
  • In addition to the current funding for international cooperation in vocational education and training, the BMBF will make 10 million euros available between 2013 and 2014 for the implementation of the memorandum, which will also be supplement by contributions from partner countries.
  • By order of the BMBF, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) will become the central office for the coordination of international cooperation in vocational education and training.


The European Commission and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training CEDEFOP will support this process. The EU Commission is placing special focus on practically oriented training in its new strategy "Rethinking Education." Starting in 2014, the new EU education programme "Erasmus for everyone" and the new European Social Fund will contribute significantly to financing. With a "European Alliance for Apprenticeship," the Commission also plans to integrate further countries into the reform process initiated by Germany.

German social partners are also supporting the BMBF initiative. Leading organizations in trade and industry are already preparing and finalizing contracts for cooperation in the transfer of German principles of training with partner organizations in other countries. The German Chamber of Commerce and German businesses with locations in partner countries will play a central role, particularly in the regional development of vocational training networks with businesses, schools and chambers in partner countries.


New Central Office for International Vocational Training Cooperation

The BMBF will be establishing a central office for international vocational training cooperation at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). The office will act as a facilitator for the growing international demand for the German vocational education system. With decades of experience in international vocational training cooperation, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) has the necessary expertise for the job. As the Federal Government's research facility in area of vocational education, the BIBB maintains around 30 research cooperations with partner facilities worldwide. Further information can be found here (in German only).

Germany and Italy agree on close cooperation in employment policy

The labour and education ministries of both countries have now reached specific agreements on promoting youth employment. These agreements are set out in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by German Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, Italian Minister of Labour, Social Policies and Equal Opportunities Elsa Fornero, Italian Minister of Education, University and Research Francesco Profumo, and a high-ranking representative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research during the conference "Working together to foster youth employment" in Naples on 12 November 2012. Cooperation between the two countries focuses particularly on labour market-policy and vocational education.

A joint work programme has been drawn up detailing specific measures for implementing the agreements. The next steps will include joint implementation of the special programme for promoting the occupational mobility of young people, a joint workshop on evaluating labour market reforms, and in-depth discussion of good practice in dual training. In addition, both ministries intend to increase take-up of the tried-and-tested mobility and exchange programmes Integration through Exchange (IdA) and Leonardo da Vinci. German and Italian EURES partners will also provide information about job and apprenticeship vacancies in Germany as part of a tour of several Italian towns and cities in 2013. The measures for vocational education cooperation primarily involve intensive expert discussion of the principles of the dual system of vocational training and initiation of pilot projects based on good practice.

Furthermore, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its Italian counterpart to encourage dialogue between the two nations regarding their vocational education systems.

The labour ministers of the two countries had already agreed to meet for the "Working together to foster youth employment" conference during the summit talks between the German and Italian governments in Rome on 4 July 2012. The conference saw representatives of the ministries, of German federal states and Italian regions, and of chambers of commerce, companies and education providers come together with young people from Germany and Italy to discuss experiences, challenges and solutions.

German-Spanish Conference on Training: Giving young people prospects for employment

According to information from the European Commission, approximately a quarter of 14 to 25 year-olds in Europe are unemployed. In particular, southern European countries such as Spain have youth unemployment rates of over 50 per cent. High youth unemployment in Spain and other countries in southern Europe contrasts with a shortage of skilled workers in Germany. At the same time, German companies located in Spain are seeking skilled staff who are trained in accordance with German vocational training standards.

Germany and Spain now plan to open up a new chapter in initial and continuing vocational training to add to their strong existing cooperation in the fields of education, science and research. The particularly low rate of youth unemployment in Germany (7.9 per cent in May 2012) is largely ascribed to the German system of vocational training. This dual system of education and training is characterized by the fact that it is the companies that are primarily responsible for training. In other words, training is practice-based. Part-time vocational schools provide additional theoretical grounding. This focus on in-company training means that trainees become accustomed to working life at an early stage and this facilitates the transition to employment considerably. Such practice-based, in-company training is a significant factor in the attractiveness of vocational training for school-leavers. More than 50 per cent of school-leavers opt for a training occupation; approximately 20 per cent do so even though they are qualified to enter higher education.

Stakeholders in German industry and in the vocational training sector met at a German-Spanish Conference on Training in Stuttgart on 12 July 2012 to discuss the possibilities of practice-based training in Spain. Participants at the conference included Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan and her Spanish counterpart, José IgnacioWert Ortega, as well as Friedrich Hubert Esser, President of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Wolfgang Schuster, Lord Mayor of the City of Stuttgart, Elisabeth Moser, Director of the Landesakademie Esslingen, Walther von Plettenberg, Chairman of the German Chamber of Commerce Abroad (AHK), representatives of German companies that are already active in the field of training in Spain, German training providers, and representatives of the chambers of commerce and trade unions.

It is intended that German-Spanish vocational training cooperation projects should have a sustainable effect in Spain against the background of the shortage of trainees and skilled staff due to demographic factors. As many young people as possible are to be given prospects for employment. For example, measures will be taken to consider the possible contribution of German companies working in Spain. Cooperation between German companies and the German Chamber of Commerce Abroad in Madrid means that there are already elements of a dual training system in Spain today. The framework conditions for mobility are also to be improved in the interest of both sides. The EURES database, which places people in employment abroad, will be extended to include training vacancies. Experience with migration in the past shows that skilled workers often return to their home country after several years of working abroad. The qualifications that they have gained abroad provide them with good professional opportunities.

Establishing international cooperation

Representatives of the German Federal Government and the governments of China, India, Russia and Turkey discuss current developments in vocational training in high-level bilateral working groups chaired by the BMBF. Germany provides its partner countries with possible solutions on the basis of its worldwide renowned dual initial and continuing vocational training. In addition, the BMBF maintains an education policy dialogue with a large number of other countries. In these initiatives, the BMBF is supported by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) with detailed knowledge of the German vocational training system and recent results from vocational training research.

In the area of vocational training exports, the BMBF supports the internationalization of German initial and continuing vocational training services providers. The aim is to develop innovative export channels for basic qualifications up to the further training of skilled staff and to test them in practice. Under the motto of "Training - Made in Germany," the BMBF initiative iMove (International Marketing of Vocational Education) promotes German initial and continuing vocational training. German education service providers are supported in establishing international cooperation and business relations by means of trainings, delegation visits and market studies. In the long term, Germany is to become the export champion in the area of education services.

Additional information

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© 04/25/2014 04:49 Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung