The Federal Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) and Education and Research (BMBF) adopted the National Skills Strategy in cooperation with several partners from politics, business associations and trade unions. The strategy initiates and bundles measures focusing on professional continuing education. Ten fields of action were defined, which focus among others on increasing transparency of training offers, developing continuing training offers further, and improving training offer quality, strategic forecasts and training statistics. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was commissioned to document achievements in an implementation report.
What has been accomplished?
- For the coordination of the implementation activities and the required networking, an implementation committee was set up with all NWS partners meeting every six months. In-depth topics, such as literacy and basic education, counselling or quality assurance, were elaborated in topic labs and workshops.
- Several projects were launched focusing on advancing digitalisation of continuing education, such as the INVITE innovation competition and the ‘Digital Transformation Q 4.0’ qualification initiative. The first prototype of a digital skills certificate (EDCI-Issuer, EDCI = Europass Digital Credential Infrastructure) was released with the launch of the new Europass portal.
- With the Work of Tomorrow Act (Arbeit-von-morgen-Gesetz’, adopted on 20 May 2020), the Federal Employment Agency has significantly expanded its support for structural change-related qualifications to improve the employability of the workforce in the digital transformation. The law also created a new legal entitlement to funding for completing a VET qualification under certain conditions.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Employment Security Act strengthened the incentive to use periods of short-time work for vocational training by simplifying and further developing the support for professional continuing education.
- With the help of continuing education mentors, company support structures are being expanded to establish sustainable education counselling and guidance to raise awareness of the lifelong issue of continuing education.
- To allow a better assessment of what is happening in continuing education, several projects were launched to establish transparent and systematic reporting in the area of continuing education and training. A thematic laboratory addressed quality assurance in VET and developed practice-oriented recommendations covering areas such as certification, legal frameworks, transparency from the participants' point of view, etc.
The implementation process of the National Skills Strategy has established a new culture of cooperation between the decision-makers involved and actors from the scientific community, as well as practitioners. All partners are in favour of a consistent continuation of the activities launched, including consultation and exchange processes. A primary aim is the constant improvement of communication between the scientific community and practitioners to support better usability and utilisation of the findings for different target groups, especially SMEs.
- The report sees starting points for further development in:
- reaching and supporting low-skilled individuals with low participation in continuing education more;
- increasing coherence among existing support offerings;
- further raising overall investments in continuing education. In this regard, one of the report recommendations is that people without a vocational qualification can be helped to obtain a subsequent vocational qualification by counselling services, through the validation of informally and non-formally acquired vocational skills, and through supplementary training programmes.