For participating vocational trainees from Germany and their trainers, these exchange programmes are an opportunity to become acquainted with other educational and training systems and to gain practical work experience abroad. By building international cooperation structures and through the collaboration of relevant regional players in vocational training, a stay abroad during initial training is set to become an integral part of the in-house training strategy of the companies and institutions involved.
As a result of the strong involvement of industry, the exchange projects for trainees have a high degree of practical orientation, which allows trainees to gain expertise in their specific occupational areas. The principle of reciprocity is fundamental to the bilateral exchange programmes, and is key in assuring the high quality of exchanges, which in turn leads to a greater willingness of participants to be mobile later on in their careers.
As part of a new BMBF-funded exchange programme, 14 young Israeli trainees visited Germany in June 2012. Together with young Germans, the guests worked on automotive or electrical industry projects, while getting to know companies from Koblenz to Freiburg that offer training programmes. The trainee exchange also offered an opportunity for people from Germany and Israel to meet each other and learn about a different county. German trainees were in Israel from the end of April until the middle of May as part of the programme.
"It was a really great experience. We would go again in a heartbeat," - the unanoumous opinion of Fabian, Manuel, Robert, and Simon after their first work experience in Israel. The young men, who are completing their training at the Liebherr Verzahntechnik GmbH in Kempten, spent three weeks in the Middle East with the German Israeli Exchange Project for Trainees. Together with ten other trainees from companies in Freiburg and Lüneburg, they were the first participants of a pilot project based on the reciprocal exchange of trainees from both countries. It is a new part of the German-Israeli programme for cooperation in vocational education, which was established over 40 years ago by the BMBF and the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labour.
The exchange is made possible in part with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
On 5 February 1980, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany and the French Republic signed an Agreement on Exchanges of Young People and Adults in Initial and Continuing Vocational Training, which aims to
The Franco-German exchange programme in initial and continuing vocational training is operated by the Franco-German Secretariat for Exchanges in Vocational Education and Training in Saarbrücken. It supports the goal of the Franco-German Agenda to facilitate 5,000 participants from Germany and France in gaining professional experience in the partner country every year.
More information on the Franco-German exchange programme in initial and continuing vocational training is available here (in German and French only).
The bilateral exchange programme with the Netherlands (BAND) has the longest tradition of all the exchange programmes operated by the GIZ. It has been running since 1995. The partner organization in the Netherlands is the Centrum van Innovatie voor Opleidingen (CINOP). Instruments particular to the programme include model projects in which participants develop a real product and conferences at which trainees in the exchange programme can meet and interact. Some 190 trainees in Germany benefit from BAND every year. Since 1995 nearly 2,000 participants have gained learning experience in the Netherlands.
Further information on BAND: bilateral exchange of apprentices and trainers with the Netherlands is available here (in German only).
The German-Norwegian exchange programme GJØR DET was set up in 2003. As an important trade partner in the German economy, Norway holds great interest for many companies as a partner country. The partner organization in Norway is the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU). Some 210 trainees in Germany benefit from the programme every year. Since its inception nearly 1,000 participants have gained learning experience in Norway.
Further information on GJØR DET: bilateral Norwegian-German exchange programme is available here (in German only).
German-British project partnerships were funded under this programme for 15 years. It provided many vocational trainees with the chance to gain work-related insights into British businesses. As of 2012, funding is unfortunately no longer available for German-British exchange projects.
More information on other bilateral exchange programmes for vocational trainees is available here.
For more than 40 years, the German-Israeli programme of cooperation in vocational education and training has served as a platform for the transfer of know-how and for the continuing education of experts and executives from Germany and Israel on current VET policy topics. The creation of sustainable national and bilateral networks is as much a focal point of the programme as are the goals of innovation in vocational education and training systems and the enhancement of intercultural competence among its participants. As part of the German-Israeli cooperation, the BMBF funds study tours and conferences as well as seminars and projects.
Further information on the German-Israel programme can be found here (in German only).
The European Centre for Heritage Crafts and Professions in Thiene provides theoretical and practical continuing education in four languages - German, English, French, and Italian - and promotes a dialogue on concepts and challenges in the European protection of cultural heritage. Since 1985, the BMBF has been awarding annual grants to journeymen and master craftsmen such as painters, stonemasons, joiners, stuccoists, and metalworkers for a three-month continuing training course.
Further information on grant programmes in the field of protection of cultural heritage is available here.
Information and counselling on international mobility: Preparation and information are important factors for successful international mobility phases. The Informations- und Beratungsstelle für Praxiserfahrung im Ausland (IBS) has been the central German service point since 1987 for all questions regarding vocational qualification abroad. On behalf of the BMBF, the IBS provides an overview of the large number of grant programmes and funding measures which support mobility for learning purposes. It helps to identify the most suitable qualification programme, and it provides advice on funding options and preparation for a stay in the host country. Its many informational and educational events advise the public about the broad range of continuing education opportunities throughout the world. As an interface between different institutions, the IBS provides a number of services to strengthen and publicize in industry and society the opportunities for initial and continuing vocational training abroad.
Information about specific exchange programmes and publications on the topic of gaining qualifications abroad are available on the IBS website (in German only).