Acting sustainably for VET of the future

Friedrich Hubert Esser

Dear readers

The achievement of CO2 goals, fair trading relationships and the generationally appropriate use of resources are all high on the social policy agenda and represent important topics for young people in particular. We all agree that society needs to be restructured in a sustainable way, and VET will play a key role in this regard. Yet the training market lost out heavily in 2020.

We need to revitalise the training market

Compared to the previous year, training supply fell by 50,700 places (8.8%) to 527,400. The number of young people seeking to secure an apprenticeship also decreased by 53,000 (8.9%) to 545,700. Matching problems on the training market exacerbated. One contributory factor here was that many vocational orientation measures and schemes to unite supply and demand could only be executed in a limited fashion or else failed to take place at all. As a consequence, the number of newly concluded training contracts in 2020 was significantly lower than in the year before. 467,500 such contracts were recorded, a decline of 57,600 (11.0%). We must do everything we can to revive the training market!

An evaluation by BIBB and the IAB shows that the transition to a “green economy” is especially reliant on occupations in the sectors of construction, geology, geography, environmental protection, technology, natural sciences, and logistics. It also shows that measures aimed at promoting a “green economy” are currently coming up against bottlenecks on the training market. And there is something else to bear in mind - tasks in the areas of renewable energies and electromobility and in “green” occupations are not the sole focus within this context. Sustainability within the meaning of the “UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” instigated in 2015 relates to all occupations.

New standard occupational profile positions will make the dual system more attractive

Embracing this comprehensive understanding of sustainability means involving young skilled workers in optimising the economy and their firms. Training for sustainable development aims to encourage reflective and responsible personalities and thus appeals to young people and companies alike. The new standard occupational profile positions on sustainability, environmental protection and digitalisation need to be viewed in this context. They were formally adopted by the BIBB Board last year. The minimum standards stipulated enter into force when the new training year begins on 1 August 2021. This means that all new or updated occupations will be aligned to these requirements in future. Companies and vocational schools are also being called upon to address the standards in a cross-occupational way. This takes account of the challenges companies will have to face as structures shift and customer wishes change.

We need training staff with sustainability qualifications

One aspect is apparent in all of this. Training staff must have the right technological and methodological capabilities in order to impart the necessary employability skills to young workers. In teaching these employability skills, trainers also create the value awareness which facilitates sustainable occupational actions. They structure learning contents so as to enable trainees to consider ecological, economic and social impacts when weighing up their approach. The main focus of the present issue of BWP is on articles relating to fair working conditions and global learning. This demonstrates that sustainability is a wide-ranging field which is worth exploring further every single day.

Prof. Dr. Friedrich Hubert Esser
President of BIBB

Translation from the German original (published in BWP 3/2021): Martin Kelsey, GlobalSprachTeam, Berlin