Main thematic focus: Conditions and structures of lifelong learning

Vocational training does not end after completion of an apprenticeship or course of higher education study. The principle of lifelong learning calls for an educational system that is open to further learning, career switches and reorientations.

Vocational training does not end after completion of an apprenticeship or course of higher education study. Vocational learning today is a training process that extends all the way from initial vocational orientation to retirement from working life. The highest degree of transparency within the vocational education and training system is required in order to be able to recognise and make use of opportunities for continuing vocational training. Transparency is created via a standardised description of qualifications and competences acquired. Qualifications and competences need to be defined and formulated in a way that secures the highest level of connectivity between different educational courses, educational institutions, educational systems, heterogeneous occupational histories and not least between the various countries both within and outside Europe. Competences may be acquired through formal, non-formal and informal learning activities. Recognition of competences should not be dependent upon the pathway via which they were acquired.

The idea of evaluating certificates and qualifications by awarding credit points emerged from the so-called “Bologna Process”. This approach has been lent new impetuses and undergone further developments at various levels of vocational training as a result of a range of projects and programmes initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and by the European Union. The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training is involved in numerous projects aimed at driving forward these developments and carries out research into the changes resulting for vocational education and training.

The topics currently being debated by the specialist research community include the following. 

Continuing training participation and impediments to continuing training

Integration of learning periods into the rhythm of life

Piloting of innovative teaching/learning concept

Tasks and training of continuing training staff

Development of transparent education and training courses and occupational careers

Transition to higher education of persons holding vocational qualifications

Development and use of in-service higher education provision

Credit transfer and recognition of higher education competences for vocational education and training