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Germany's President Wulff underscores the importance of vocational education and training and urges a "new culture of open doors"
Opening of the 6th BIBB Vocational Education and Training Congress in Berlin
President Christian Wulff underscored the important role played by vocational education and training in Germany, called for greater permeability between different educational pathways and proposed a "new culture of open doors". Speaking Monday at the opening of the 6th Vocational Education and Training Congress of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) in Berlin, Germany's head of state noted that "the options available in Germany for learning an occupation and continuing one's professional training in that occupation are more diverse than ever before. For me, this diversity is one of the biggest achievements of the German system."
President Wulff emphasised how highly regarded Germany's 'dual' vocational training system (which combines part-time vocational schooling with practical work experience) and German vocational qualifications are abroad. "We need not fear international comparisons in this area. While other countries are struggling with ? in some cases high ? unemployment among their youth, the youth unemployment rate in Germany is low." This shows how valuable an intact vocational training system is for society, he noted. "I therefore want to thank all those who champion this good vocational training system in Germany day after day."
There is however "room for improvement" in connection with the level of permeability between the different educational pathways, particularly between university education and vocational training. "The paths for an individual's continued development are still blocked in many cases," commented President Wulff, adding that of those individuals who have completed formal vocational training but who, during their secondary school education, did not earn qualification to enter university, only one per cent do acquire access to university studies by having their vocational qualifications credited and formally recognised. Germany's president stressed that in order for day-to-day life in society to function, we need both: people with university degrees and people with vocational qualification ? engineers with a university degree and mechatronics fitters who hold vocational qualification. "They should be able to meet as equals, on the basis of genuine respect."
President Wulff also called for more options and opportunities for European and international exchanges. Exchanges are already "standard procedure" in the university sector but still tend to be the exception in the vocational training field. He proposed a "new culture of open doors" so that during their training Germany's trainees also learn to be more open-minded and mobile by having their horizons expanded.
Some 1,200 vocational training experts are meeting in Berlin on 19 and 20 September for the 6th BIBB Vocational Education and Training Congress where they will discuss topical issues and prospects in the vocational education and training field from a national and international perspective under the motto "Developing competences ? Opening up opportunities".
President Wulff's speech is available in German at www.bundespraesident.de.
Photos will be available shortly at www.bibb.de/pressefotos.
The results of the congress will be documented soon on the BIBB website at www.bibb.de/berufsbildungskongress.
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