50 years of BWP – 50 years of professional discourse in tune with the times

Friedrich Hubert Esser

Dear readers

This issue of BWP takes us back to the 1970s in two different ways. Firstly, it tackles the issue of core competencies and the associated question of the significance of cross-cutting competencies in terms of overcoming the shift which is taking place in work and employment. Secondly, 2021 represents the 50th anniversary of BWP itself. BWP was in its infancy when DIETER MERTENS published his core skills concept and “theses for education and training in a modern society” in 1974. Indeed, it was still appearing under its original title of the “Journal of VET Research” following publication of the very first issue in June 1972. The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training Research, the precursor to BIBB, was established in 1970. It took this institute two years to develop a journal, but such thorough preparations paid off. The concept that was drawn up has borne the test of time, and today’s BWP bears many of the same fundamental features.

Entering into discourse with all stakeholders – a multitude of topics

Discourse with all VET stakeholders from the fields of academic research, policy making and practice is part of BWP’s DNA. The institute’s first President HANS-JOACHIM ROSENTHAL spelled out the approach to be adopted in his preface to the journal’s debut issue. “The aims are to create an open discussion forum for all researchers involved in vocational education and training and to foster the dissemination of findings, new developments and methods [...] emerging from practice which in turn represent real stimulation for further academic research.” Compared to other specialist vocational education and training journals, the particular USP which BWP has retained down to the present day is probably its ability to reflect VET policy matters

Even though BWP has remained loyal to its original conceptual notion for half century, it has undergone some changes over the years. A journal, and especially one which deals with such a vibrant area as vocational education and training, needs to be in tune with the times. Evidence that this is the case is provided in the form of the diversity of the topics addressed in more than 3,500 articles written by over 1,200 contributors. A BWP poster in the centre of the issue presents figures and pictures that document this vividly.

Communication via various channels

Since last year, all articles previously published have been made available in an online archive. A real historical treasure trove and an excellent way of reviewing developments over the past 50 years have thus been created.

If journal owners wish to stay in tune with the times, they also need to give careful consideration to new technologies and to changes in reader behaviour. This is an area in which BWP has played somewhat of a pioneering role. A CD to accompany the journal, containing a digital collection of all articles and issues from a whole year, was produced for the first time in 2000. The switch from an offline to an online medium took place in 2012. This facilitated the establishment of an online archive, which now lies at the heart of the journal portal launched in 2020. The archive also acts as a vehicle for the transportation of new formats to supplement the print product, such as podcasts and graphics.

KARL SCHILLER, Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance at the time, penned a welcoming message for inclusion in the journal’s first issue. “My wish and hope is that this journal will aid networking between academia and practice and between research and policy making at all levels for as long as possible and in as sustained a way as possible.” This wish and hope continue to serve as a guiding principle for the journal’s publisher and editorial team.

You can be sure that we have plenty of exciting ideas for BWP’s further development over the next 50 years!


Prof. Dr. Friedrich Hubert Esser
President of BIBB


Translation from the German original (published in BWP 1/2021): Martin Kelsey, GlobalSprachTeam, Berlin