ECOSOC Side Event: Statement by Counsellor Kage on Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Germany's Experience

Jul 10, 2012

(ECOSOC Side Event: Statement as delivered by Counsellor Kage on Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Germany's Experience)

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished Delegates,

I would like to welcome you to this ECOSOC Side-Event “Enhancing Employability through Vocational and Technical Education and Training: Germany's Experience”. Thank you for coming and thanks to our co-hosts, the ILO, and especially Christine Evans-Klocke and Kevin Cassidy for making this event possible.

The German Government is convinced that education is the key to our development!

Not only in times of the knowledge economy, we think that supporting education in Germany and abroad is extremely important. And we think that more should be done to achieve a sustainable improvement in education as part of our cooperation with developing and emerging countries.

It’s a prerequisite for development in all areas – i.e. for economic, political, social and cultural development.

Democracy, the rule of law and peace can be in danger when equal access to education is not safeguarded. Educational poverty divides societies and cements unjust structures.

In addition to that, education – regardless of development policy goals – is a human right and therefore something we should be supporting per se!

Good education is active poverty reduction. Especially in developing countries, fragile states or in the case of disadvantaged groups, education and training are a way to escape the downward spiral of poverty and lack of prospects.

Germany practices the principle of lifelong learning as our guiding principle; we are therefore advocating a holistic approach to education, one that takes all forms and areas of education into account – from early childhood education to primary education, to secondary education, to technical vocational education and training (TVET), higher education and adult education. In particular well known and currently widely discussed (UNESCO TVET World Congress Shanghai 2012; OECD-documents) is the German dual TVET system.

We draw this system back to the Middle Ages when the first guilds organized training. So it was the industry who started to organize this training system. In 1869 vocational school was made mandatory for all workers under the age of 18 years in Germany. In 1897 the Chambers of Crafts took over the responsibility for supervising the training of apprentices and journeymen. And this is why we suggested our co-hosts, the ILO, to tinvite a representative of the German Association of the Chambers of Commerce to this meeting as well as a representative from GIZ.

Germany’s training system is strongly market driven. We are proud to have this system in place that helps us to ensure that young people are integrated into the world of work after they leave the school.

Germany’s training system furthermore provides the trainee not only with the proper vocational competence, but also with those soft skills that help him/her to succeed in the labour market: client orientation; quality; creativity and decision making.

It is these “secondary qualifications” that ease a trainee’s transfer in the labour market and that explain to a large extent the relatively low youth unemployment data in Germany. We start to have a different problem:

Due to the demographic development, it is becoming more and more difficult to find trainees in Germany. In the last few years, there have been more training places available than could be filled. Some sectors (especially technical and medical professions) are searching for suitable trainees. SMEs are competing with large companies to attract good candidates.

To lay firm foundations for the supply of young skilled workers the Federal Government, the Länder and the business communities adopted Germany’s National Pact for Training and Skilled Manpower Development. It has been in place since 2004 and was extended in 2007 and in 2010 (to 2014).

Ladies and Gentlemen, I will leave it to the experts to explain the whole system.  But I would like to point out that this system is based on a division of labour between different government entities, employers and the unions.

The Federal Government recognizes training occupations and stipulates binding requirements for training and examinations. The German States (Länder) issue curricula, finance the teaching staff and supervise the Chamber activities. Employers and Unions together draft proposals for the creation of new and the updating of existing training occupations. In this way, the system also guarantees that technological advances get into all companies. It is the young people who transport new knowledge into the enterprises!

We certainly do not intend to offer a one-to-one copy of Germany’s TVET practices as the remedy to the youth employment crisis that many countries face these days. However, building on the basic principles of the dual vocational training system – particularly demand-orientation, decentralisation and practice-orientation and an equal partnership of the state and the private sector in the governance of the TVET system may offer a viable option for many countries, North or South.

For fifty years Germany has been a reliable, innovative and valued partner in the field of TVET and also the world’s biggest donor in this field, with ODA disbursements of 64 million euros in 2010. And we plan to expand TVET still further, doubling our efforts to 125 million euros this year.

Building on the basic principles of the dual vocational training system – particularly demand-oriented, decentralised, practice-based, modular training – we will therefore be initiating new vocational training partnerships between the private and the public sector in our partner countries.

We will be working more intensively with the private sector to train skilled workers on the ground – especially for sectors of the future such as renewable energy or natural resources.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for your attention and would like to hand over to Ms. Evans-Klocke.

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