BWP 3/2022


BWP 3/2022

The vocational education and training system in Germany is characterised by a high degree of standardisation. This is linked with strong transparency and authoritativeness of occupational profiles and of vocational certificates within the education and employment system. These help to shape occupational biographies.Such merits are in a conflicting relationship with demands for greater flexibility in the system. The focus here is on matters relating to the permeability of educational pathways and on the adaptation of occupational profiles to shifts which are taking place in the economy and in society.This issue of BWP investigates the question as to the ways in which greater flexibility is useful or even necessary for an effective and modern VET system without, however, jettisoning fundamental principles (such as the principle of the regulated occupation). BWP shows solidarity with Ukraine and adapts its cover for this issue.


Special Focus

Katrin Kraus

Functionality of the vocational education and training system in terms of the productive conflicting relationship between flexibility and stability

Flexibility and stability seem at first glance to be opposites placing contradictory requirements on the vocational education and training system. Nevertheless, they are two important contextual conditions which need to be taken into account. The present article discusses this pair of opposites and the demands they create whilst also making reference to the function of the VET system and to the link between the education system, the world of work and the individual which is imparted via the notion of vocationalism. It also looks at them from an occupational biography development perspective. This approach allows the conflicting relationship between stability and flexibility to be substantiated as a basis for further development of the vocational education and training system. The perspectives for this are addressed in the final section by introducing the term “ambivalent functionality”.
Monika Hackel

Options for flexibilisation within the scope of the BBiG and its implementation

read more

The wish for a more flexible structuring of vocational education and training is particularly expressed within the context of dynamic innovation and transformation processes in Germany. One thing which is frequently overlooked is the fact that the German vocational training act (BBiG) already offers options for flexibilisation in relation to the structures and contents of training occupations, with regard to implementation in terms of place and time, and in respect of specific groups of persons. These options are described in the present article. Nevertheless, it is revealed that some of them are used only hesitantly. The questions which therefore arise are whether there is sufficient awareness of these options, whether further options are required and which prerequisites these would need to fulfil.
Axel Kaufmann, Florian Winkler, Gert Zinke

Flexibilisation in the industrial metal working and electrical occupations

Impetuses for training and for new regulatory work in future

The metal working and electrical occupations were updated in 2018 with the aim of countering the pressure to adapt that is particularly affecting these occupational profiles in the wake of the digital transformation. The objective was to use standard instruments to drive forward flexibilisation. This article highlights the degree of success achieved in this regard and examines the conclusions which may be drawn for training in the metal working and electrical occupations and for further regulatory work. It also makes reference to a BIBB evaluation and presents results from regional workshops.
Matthias Becker, Georg Spöttl, Lars Windelband

Flexible core occupation structures for digitalised skilled work

Digitalisation has been taking place in the metal working and electrical industry for around a decade and is impacting both on the skills requirements of employees and on the structuring of the occupations themselves. Companies are reacting to the changed qualification needs by increasingly providing skilled workers with “hybrid” training, i.e. training which is aligned to mechanical, electrical and information technology requirements. The metal working and electrical occupations were partially updated in 2018 alongside the occupation of mechatronics fitter. Nevertheless, and despite the additional qualifications introduced, they are reaching their limits. Taking current developments at companies as its basis, the present article makes the case for adding a new core to the way in which occupational profiles are structured. The aim of such a realignment is to facilitate a more flexible and more precise reaction to needs.
Katrin Gutschow, Barbara Lorig

Codified additional qualifications – aims, models and dissemination

The Vocational Training Act has permitted the inclusion of additional qualifications in training regulations since 2005. Companies are able to use these so-called codified additional qualifications to impart specialisations which extend beyond the minimum standards set out in the training regulations. Relevant additional qualifications have been enacted in 27 training occupations thus far. These are presented in the article on the basis of selected characteristics. They follow two different models. Findings in respect of the deployment of codified additional qualifications indicate low dissemination and use.
Anette Jacob, Heike Krämer

Elective qualifications – a flexibilisation model for media occupations in times of rising complexity and shorter innovation cycles

The media landscape has been characterised by increasing digitalisation and by networking of production since the mid-1990s. The resulting diversity of production routes, output channels and products has led to a significant increase in training contents which can no longer be mapped within the scope of mono-structured occupational profiles. The development of the elective qualifications model has produced a structure which is able to depict these changes whilst also creating different specialisation profiles . Elective qualifications were first used as an instrument of flexibilisation when the occupation of designer of digital and print media was updated in 1998. The present article describes the development of this training occupation down to the present day and highlights the merits and challenges associated with the use of elective qualifications.
Ute Hippach-Schneider, Isabelle Le Mouillour

Micro-credentials: a European initiative for lifelong learning – new and yet familiar

read more

In December 2021, the European Commission published a proposal for a Council Recommendation on a European approach to micro-credentials for lifelong learning and employability. Although in use in higher education and in English-speaking countries, the term “micro-credentials” has remained unknown in vocational education and training in Germany up until now. Much is still open and unclear, and no uniform understanding or notion exists with regard to the role which they could or should play in the member states. One of the outcomes of the Europe-wide consultation on this Recommendation is that such an instrument is not without controversy in vocational education and training. The present article looks at the core elements of the European proposal and identifies areas of potential and problem areas associated with the use of micro-credentials for VET. This is particularly highlighted via a reflection on possible developments of micro-credentials in the German VET context.
Anna Lanfermann, Patrick Winzer, Holger Cebulla

Lateral entry to the textile sector

Imparting of basic principles via a digital learning platform

A shortage of skilled workers means that the textile industry is increasingly seeking to make use of persons without formal qualifications. The teaching of theoretical knowledge often falls short if semi-skilled learning takes place at the company. In order to fill this gap, a digital learning platform called “textile trainer” has been made available to supply necessary fundamental knowledge. This allows learners to access such knowledge in a flexible way appropriate to their needs .
Taiga Brahm, Hubert Ertl, Dietmar Frommberger

Further development of vocational education and training for the future

Improving the transitions between vocational and higher education

Permeability between vocational education and training and higher education has been an object of keen debate for some considerable time, the main aims being to improve equality of opportunity and to increase the attractiveness of VET. This topic is closely connected with the issue of flexibilisation of vocational education and training. Nevertheless, the practical relevance of this permeability has actually been very slow to materialise up until now. For this reason, possibilities which may be able to facilitate transition from vocational education and training to higher education and vice versa, e.g. standardisation of opportunities for transition and recognition and a curriculum which is more independent of learning venues and more modular, are currently being explored. The ultimate objective is to overcome existing structural hurdles and to seize permeability as a potential development route.

From research and practice

Stephan Kroll, Tobias Maier

Areas of skilled worker potential for the construction sector

The impending infrastructure and residential housing measures cannot be tackled without skilled workers in the construction industry. Good economic development over the past decade has already led to an increase both in the proportion of foreign employees and in the number of newly concluded training contracts in the building sector. These developments are, however, unlikely to be sufficient in terms of meeting a level of demand for qualified skilled labour which remains high. This article presents selected key indicators and considerations relating to how the course of training can be shaped in a more positive fashion so as to avoid losing trainees once they have been attracted to the sector and in order to successfully turn them into skilled workers. Foreign skilled workers also need to be retained within the country.
Pia Wagner, David Samray, Nicolai Bör

Start-ups – ready to provide vocational education and training?

Seeking areas of potential for greater participation in training

read more

Despite a high demand for skilled workers and personnel recruitment difficulties, start-ups have been very unlikely to provide vocational education and training (VET) thus far. This article investigates the causes of this absence from training and discusses possible approaches towards increasing participation in training by start-ups. Its examination is based on results from an online survey of start-ups conducted between February and July 2021 and on qualitative interviews carried out to supplement this survey.


Anita Milolaza, Johanna Telieps

A new start for the hospitality industry

New occupational profiles as the sector emerges from the coronavirus crisis

The hospitality industry has chosen to modernise its traditional dual training occupations for the first time in over twenty years – right in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The hotel, restaurant and kitchen occupations will feature six updated training regulations and one newly created regulation when the 2022 training year gets underway.

Profile of an occupation – railway worker specialising in operational train driving and transport

read more

Train drivers steer trains and transport freight or passengers locally or across long distances. They have a major part to play in the implementation of a climate-friendly transport policy. As a consequence, the need for qualified skilled workers is high. This occupational description provides information on the new training regulations, presents figures relating to the proportion of women in the job and states digitalisation trends.

The Board of BIBB

Thomas Vollmer

Report on the Board Meetings held on 1 April 2022 and 29 June 2022

The spring and summer Board Meetings took place under the chairmanship of Dr. Sandra Garbade, representative of the federal states. In light of the current training places situation, annual debate on the Federal Government’s Report on Vocational Education and Training centred on the topic of “youth employment agencies”. Further points of consultation were impetuses for improvements in the transitional system, parental involvement in vocational orientation, and the transformation of trade and industry.