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Main thematic focus: The diversity of vocational education and training

In order to secure the future supply of skilled workers, individual and structural requirements need to be accorded greater emphasis and be made the starting point for the structural planning and shaping of vocational and pre-vocational training.

The training and labour market is characterised by competition between applicants to secure the most attractive training places and jobs and by competition between employers to obtain the services of the most able employees, a struggle that is intensifying in the light of demographic change. Depending on area of work and occupational field, ability can be defined in very different ways. It may constitute personal competences (e.g. conscientiousness), cognitive competences (e.g. the facility for abstract thought), social competences (e.g. the capacity to work as part of a team), physical strength or craft trade skills.

The people applying for a training place or job are just as diverse as the requirements placed on employees. This diversity was long perceived to be a limitation or hindrance for long-term occupational integration. Lines of differentiation such as gender, ethnic origin and age are now increasingly being discussed against the background of respective specific potential. The diversity of skills and competences that results is viewed as being of benefit to the world of work. Nevertheless, there are still risk groups which are more likely to be unemployed, to suffer long-term unemployment or to work in precarious employment arrangements. These groups particularly include persons from a migrant background, persons with a disability and persons with no school leaving qualification or with a low-level school leaving certificate.

The vocational education and training system needs to offer such persons tailored provision in order to enable them to preserve their opportunities for societal participation. In addition, those with responsibility for vocational training must strengthen the specific areas of VET potential of such persons, make them more visible externally and contribute towards the dismantling of discriminatory selection mechanisms.

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

Development of the potential of young people at the transition from school to the world of work


(Continuing) vocational training for older workers


Inclusion – rethinking vocational education and training for the disabled


Expansion of the spectrum of occupational choice for young women and men