Acting today to set out a successful future direction of travel!

Friedrich Hubert Esser

Dear readers

Examinations are the lynchpin of dual training. The focus of this issue of BWP is on reforms, initiatives and projects relating to the further development of the examination system and to associated challenges.

Movement in the system

A brief review of the period of the pandemic seems appropriate at this juncture. One conclusion which could be drawn from this time in respect of the examination system is that we have passed the stress test and learned a lot! The system has proved itself to be highly flexible and agile. Pragmatic and diverse ways of dealing with the sudden change to general conditions were identified. As in many areas of economic life, an unprecedented learning curve took place in terms of digital communication and work organisation. The commitment shown by a large number of volunteer examiners, supported by main offices at the competent bodies, was the only reason it was possible to cope with the demands faced.

The articles in this issue show that the examination system is also on the move in other areas. New provisions have been introduced into the Vocational Training Act (BBiG) and the Crafts and Trades Regulation Code. The aims here include enhancing the attractiveness of the role of the voluntary examiner and providing greater flexibility in the implementation of examinations. Written examinations are increasingly being conducted in a digital form. The relevant quality standards in this regard are set out in the current Board Recommendation 180. In addition to this, digital tools from research and development projects have been harnessed with the objective of improving the quality and cost efficiency of examinations. These are just a few examples.

Staging structural debates in an open and targeted way

The current debate between stakeholders seeking to find the right pathway to structural further development of the education system is of a somewhat different nature. This conversation remains necessary because major challenges still intrinsically exist. The acquisition of sufficient numbers of new examiners, the securing of legally compliant and high-quality examinations and the creation of adequate solutions in the light of dynamic technological developments are some of the aspects which should be mentioned.

For this reason, we will not and cannot settle for what has been achieved thus far. The rapid developments that are occurring in the field of AI – ChatGPT, for instance – should be stressed here. These constitute both an opportunity and a challenge, and a detailed consideration of their impacts on the examination system is required. This makes it all the more welcome that the BIBB Board has deployed a working group which, against the background of altered technological possibilities, will scrutinise the Recommendation for the stipulation of examination conditions and instruments in training regulations. One thing is clear. Evolution is key to ongoing success. This applies to the examination system too. We should make use of the continuous monitoring of technological developments, of a transparent picture of the examination situation in the regions and of supporting research and development projects to set out the right direction of travel. The goal has to be to develop solutions to the challenges uncovered that will still be viable in ten years’ time. The emphasis needs to be on constantly further developing the quality of examinations, on reducing the burden on examiners, on making the role of the volunteer examiner more attractive, on raising the opportunities afforded by digitalisation and on learning from and with one another along the way.

Professor Friedrich Hubert Esser
President of BIBB

Translation from the German original (published in BWP 3/2023): Martin Kelsey, GlobalSprachTeam, Berlin