The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) has been investigating whether there is a need to modernise the four existing dual programmes for information technology (IT) occupations which have remained unchanged since 1997. Against the background of the increasing digitalisation of the world of work, the aims were to identify current and foreseeable requirements for skilled IT staff and to draw up proposals for the future shaping of the IT occupations.

Since the launch of the IT occupations, around 250 000 skilled IT staff have been trained for work at manufacturing and applications companies offering products and services in information and communication technology. The training occupation of information technology specialist, which offers two specialisms (specialism of applications development and specialism of systems integration) has increasingly become a sought-after core brand within the IT occupations in recent years. The numbers of trainees entering this occupation more than compensate for the tendency towards a decline in the other three. Between 2015 and 2016, the figures for newly concluded training contracts for this occupation increased once more by 1 000 to reach of over 12 000.

Estimations on labour market development assume that the need for skilled workers will increase by up to 3.15% more per year by 2030 because of the so-called fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). The rising number of interlinked sensors and actuators in production, software-intensive embedded systems and the digitalisation of whole business processes, will continue to heighten requirements for network reliability, real-time processing, data security and processing large quantities of data.

The following recommendations may be made for the design of the occupations. The two commercially-aligned IT occupations of information and telecommunications system support specialist and information technology officer should be merged, as they have considerable overlaps. The two specialisms within the occupation of information technology specialist should be dissolved into separate occupations, because there is a clear difference between their profiles and demand continues to be very large in overall terms.

Two thirds of skilled IT workers are employed in branches outside the ICT sector, including in manufacturing. With regard to Industry 4.0, consideration should be accorded to establishing content such as production management, virtualisation and embedded systems more firmly into the training areas of applications development and system administration.

The topic of IT security should be significantly strengthened. This should take place first via a fundamental cross-occupational understanding of issues relating to IT security, and, second, via occupationally specific contents (for example risk analysis, protection of hardware and networks/infrastructure, encryption, rights, legal requirements, certification, and training).
In view of the increasing complexity, heterogeneity and speed of change in requirements, differentiations in the form of elective qualifications should be introduced.
These and other proposals are currently being debated by associations of employer and employee stakeholders involved with a view to rearrangement.

Source: BIBB (newsletter of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training), revised by ReferNet Germany, August 2017