’Practically unbeatable’ is the slogan under which vocational education has been advertised in Germany for the past years. Against a background of high rates of youth unemployment in many countries, export of the successful German dual system of vocational education and training (VET) has been discussed. The Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) is now launching its implementation.
The German chambers of commerce abroad (AHKs) play a decisive role in this project. After all, vocational education is first and foremost an economic issue. The required transfer of know-how to the AHKs is made possible via the network of chambers. In many of the involved countries (Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain), partners first have to be identified and brought together. The aim is to create basic structures that can sensibly support VET in companies and at vocational colleges: establishment of vocational education committees, training curricula, examination regulations, training of trainers and examiners - are only some of the milestones.
By 2015, dual training based on the German model should be up and running. All apprenticeships will conclude with an examination organised and carried out by AHK. If possible, professional qualifications should be recognised in the respective countries. It is often far more difficult than in Germany to convince young people and their parents of the benefits of apprenticeship, because VET’s image tends to be fairly bad.
Exporting business assistance abroad is quite demanding, as the situation in each country is different: while countries such as Latvia are only getting started, Portugal, for example, already has 30 years’ experience with a dual VET system. In countries with little experience or without an established tradition of in-company VET, successful project implementation will demonstrate how dual-system VET based on the German model can work.
In the long term, all will benefit: countries benefit from lower youth unemployment rates, youths benefit from good jobs and businesses benefit from a well-trained, skilled labour force.