X Sie verwenden einen veralteten Browser, mit dem nicht alle Inhalte des Internetauftritts www.bibb.de korrekt wiedergegeben werden können. Um unsere Seiten in Aussehen und Funktion in vollem Umfang nutzen zu können, empfehlen wir Ihnen, einen neueren Browser zu installieren.

Vocational education and training in Mexico - how the country has tropicalised the dual model

Mexico is one of the world's major economic locations and, as a G-20 member, is also an attractive place for German companies to do business. Given the global competition in the manufacturing sector, the training and securing of skilled workers is becoming ever more significant. Vocational education and training that provides a combination of theory and company-based training is considered to be a successful strategy for training skilled workers in line with economic needs. For this purpose, Mexico has developed a form of training based on the German dual model which it has then adapted to meet the "tropical" nature of its general conditions. This article presents the characteristics of Mexican dual VET and highlights commonalities with and differences to the German system of vocational education and training.

The educational and vocational education and training system in Mexico

The Mexican educational system comprises three levels: basic education (nine years), upper secondary education (three years) and higher education. 1Since December 2010, compulsory schooling has also been extended to cover the upper secondary level. This can be completed either by qualifying as a professional technician ("profesional técnico bachiller") at a vocational school or by studying for the general upper secondary school leaving certificate ("Bachillerato"). 2Successful completion of upper secondary education opens up the possibility of studying at an institute of higher education. The upper secondary level has approximately 4.2 million pupils, of whom nine percent have decided to pursue the vocational pathway as an alternative to general education (cf. SEP 2011, p. 98). The primary body responsible for vocational education and training in Mexico is the "Mexican National College of Technical Professional Education" - CONALEP" (Colegio Nacional de Educación Profesional Técnica) with around 300,000 pupils. This represents a proportion of 76.5 percent of all vocational school pupils (cf. SEP 2011, p. 111). CONALEP has 501 schools across Mexico and falls under the remit of the Ministry of Education. There are also further schools such as the CBT (Centro de Bachillerato Tecnológico), CECYTE (Colegio de Estudios Científicos y Tecnológicos) and others. School-based vocational education and training in Mexico comprises three semesters of basic training, three further semesters with a greater degree of specialisation and one semester for a compulsory practical company internship.

The history of dual vocational education and training in Mexico

Number of trainees
Source: Altratec, SAED database, status: 30 June 2013

The origin of the dual model of vocational education and training in Mexico goes back to the cooperation that took place between CONALEP in the federal state of "Estado de México" and Mercedes-Benz during the years from 1993 to 1998. CONALEP vocational school pupils from the occupations of motor vehicle mechanic, industrial plant electronics technician and electrical mechanic took part in this cooperation project at the time. Between the years 1999 and 2005, the project continued with a few supplier firms only due to the fact that Mercedes-Benz (later Daimler Chrysler) had introduced a recruitment freeze. Alongside a number of small and medium-sized companies in Estado de México, both Siemens in Guadalajara and Volkswagen in Puebla have been providing training themselves since the 1970's.

German/Austrian companies 29 Mexican companies 95
Companies based in non-European countries 22
Source: Altratec, SAED database, status: 30 June 2013

At the end of 2008, CONALEP took the decision to reintroduce this dual training system in Estado de México in light of the fact that all those completing pilot projects following their training in 1998 had found appropriate employment (cf. SCHNEIDER 1999). For this purpose, the National Directorate-General of CONALEP signed a cooperation agreement with BIBB in the spring of 2009 in order to foster the exchange of information and the revitalisation of the dual training system. CONALEP commissioned the company "German-Mexican Alliance for Technology Transfer" (ALTRATEC) to provide specialist local advice and to promote the expansion of the training offers. From 2009, the main focus of dual training was placed on the occupational fields of electrical mechanics and information technology. CONALEP also worked with ALTRATEC to draw up new national sets of regulations and teaching content for the dual training occupations of tools mechanic, mechatronics fitter, information technology specialist, tourism services management clerk and cook (cf. AGUIRRE 2011).

From 1993 to 2012, a total of 762 trainees in the federal states of Estado de México, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Chiapas and Nuevo León completed their dual vocational education and training in cooperation with Mexican and German firms. Most participants were CONALEP pupils. Alongside CONALEP, the Universities of Applied Sciences UPVM (Universidad Politécnica in Valle de México), UPVT (Universidad Politécnica in Valle de Toluca) in the federal state of Estado de México and UPT (Universidad Politécnica in Tlaxcala) also participate in the dual VET system today. There are currently approximately 800 trainees in the dual system, about 600 of these being in Estado de México. The aim is to reach a figure of 1,200 trainees by the end of 2013 (cf. Figure 1).

Company-based training is presently provided by 146 different firms (cf. Figure 2). Over 50 percent of these are small and medium-sized enterprises.3

German/Austrian companies 29 Mexican companies 95
Companies based in non-European countries 22
Source: Altratec, SAED database, status: 30 June 2013

At the end of 2008, CONALEP took the decision to reintroduce this dual training system in Estado de México in light of the fact that all those completing pilot projects following their training in 1998 had found appropriate employment (cf. SCHNEIDER 1999). For this purpose, the National Directorate-General of CONALEP signed a cooperation agreement with BIBB in the spring of 2009 in order to foster the exchange of information and the revitalisation of the dual training system. CONALEP commissioned the company "German-Mexican Alliance for Technology Transfer" (ALTRATEC) to provide specialist local advice and to promote the expansion of the training offers. From 2009, the main focus of dual training was placed on the occupational fields of electrical mechanics and information technology. CONALEP also worked with ALTRATEC to draw up new national sets of regulations and teaching content for the dual training occupations of tools mechanic, mechatronics fitter, information technology specialist, tourism services management clerk and cook (cf. AGUIRRE 2011).

From 1993 to 2012, a total of 762 trainees in the federal states of Estado de México, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Chiapas and Nuevo León completed their dual vocational education and training in cooperation with Mexican and German firms. Most participants were CONALEP pupils. Alongside CONALEP, the Universities of Applied Sciences UPVM (Universidad Politécnica in Valle de México), UPVT (Universidad Politécnica in Valle de Toluca) in the federal state of Estado de México and UPT (Universidad Politécnica in Tlaxcala) also participate in the dual VET system today. There are currently approximately 800 trainees in the dual system, about 600 of these being in Estado de México. The aim is to reach a figure of 1,200 trainees by the end of 2013 (cf. Figure 1).

Company-based training is presently provided by 146 different firms (cf. Figure 2). Over 50 percent of these are small and medium-sized enterprises.3

Core elements of Mexican dual training

The dual vocational education and training model initiated in Estado de México with support from BIBB is of three years' duration and comprises 75 percent practical training in the company and 25 percent theory. Because in Mexico the vocational schools are often a long way away from the companies providing training, the country has found an innovative solution to deal with vocational school content via the use of a learning software. The theoretical part of dual training is imparted via an e-learning platform. The dual training model in Mexico is founded on three main pillars.

1. Company-based training: The three-year training course is conducted in the company and is based on the German training regulations and framework curricula. These are firstly translated, and contents are then adapted to the specific requirements in Mexico. ALTRATEC supports the companies in the planning of phases of training, in the description of training places and in the definition of training objectives.

2. Training in inter-company centres: Company-based training is supplemented by six inter-company training courses which take place twice a year and each last for three weeks. These courses are conducted by German education and training providers, certified trainers and staff from the participating companies at ALTRATEC. The inter-company centres cover contents which the company providing training is unable to offer but which form part of the requirements of the training regulations.

3. Training via the multimedia teaching and learning software "Konstrulab": Company-based training is also supplemented by use of the multimedia teaching software "Konstrulab", which is installed as an e-learning platform in the companies providing training. This software has been designed in an employment oriented manner and serves to impart vocational school content. Trainees are required to spend at least one hour per day working with the content and to subject themselves to regular progress checks. This means that Konstrulab also fulfils the function of an evaluation platform which documents the vocational school knowledge achieved and the contents prescribed and prepared (by the German-Mexican Chamber of Industry and Commerce CAMEXA and the Ministry of Education).

Commonalities with the German training system

In cooperation with BIBB and further local and international stakeholders, Mexico has found a way of integrating the main characteristics and benefits of the German dual model of vocational education and training into its own education and training system. These dual components are now nationally regulated and from the state point of view represent a major contribution towards reducing youth employment. 4For the companies, the dual system is important in terms of acquiring qualified skilled workers. The German-Mexican Chamber of Industry and Commerce CAMEXA is an important guarantor of quality at a local level.

The following commonalities with the German training system can be identified in the Mexican dual model.

  • Learning venues: Training mostly takes place at the company.
  • Training contents: Trainees are trained in accordance with stipulated framework curricula and training place descriptions in company-based and inter-company training measures.
  • Training contract: A training contract is concluded between the trainees and the company providing training.
  • Chamber registration: The training contracts are registered at CAMEXA.
  • Training allowance: A monthly training allowance of approximately €100 is stipulated in the contract. In Mexico, this corresponds approximately to the current minimum wage.
  • Reporting: Trainees complete weekly report books.
  • Examination: Trainees sit an interim and final examination at CAMEXA. This examination only takes place, however, if trainees additionally wish to acquire a dual qualification with German recognition.

Differences to the German training system

What do we mean by "tropicalising the dual model"? The development of the dual training model in Mexico clearly shows that the German model cannot be adopted on a 1-to-1 basis. The specific focus in Mexico is on the so-called process of "tropicalización", i.e. the adaptation and further development of individual elements of the German VET system to meet the existing general conditions. The Mexican model differs from the German system with regard to the five following characteristics.

Awarding of training places

Central pre-selection of trainees guarantees that those seeking training places and training place providers can be linked up rapidly and reliably. This is a significant difference to the German system, in which every young person interested searches for a training place himself or herself and applies directly to a company. In Mexico, young people begin their regular vocational education and training with CONALEP or a comparable institution. From the second semester, the young people may express an interest in changing to the dual system. ALTRATEC and CONALEP make a pre-selection of training place applicants using motivation, basic attitude and discipline as an evaluation yardstick (cf. AGUIRRE 2011). As in Germany, the company has the final say with regard to the acceptance of trainees. Compared to Germany, however, the number of companies providing training is very limited because many companies are not yet aware of learning via the dual principle. Nevertheless, thanks to active promotion of this model by CONALEP and ALTRATEC, the number of participating firms is constantly increasing.

Final examinations and certificates

In Mexico, the final mark for dual vocational education and training is made up of three separate components. These are the individual marks awarded for the inter-company training measures, the assessments of the companies and the mark for the final project, which is comparable with the German journeyman's workpiece. A significant difference exists with regard to the evaluation of the final examination. This is conducted by the teaching staff at CONALEP, not by an independent examination board appointed by the chamber organisations, as is the case in Germany. The certificate both confirms that the examination has been passed and provides an entitlement to enter higher education study. After the final examination, those who have completed the dual form of training at CONALEP may take an additional examination at the German-Mexican Chamber of Industry and Commerce CAMEXA in order to obtain a chamber certificate in accordance with the German dual model. This certificate enjoys international recognition and is therefore considered to be an additional mark of quality. The chamber certificate is also recognised by Mexican educational institutions because, in addition to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce guidelines (interim and final examination in accordance with the guidelines of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, DIHK), CAMEXA also fulfils the stipulations of the Mexican Council for Standardisation and Certification of Work Competences "CONOCER" (Consejo de Normalización y Certificación).

Qualification of training staff

Evidence of aptitude is also required in Mexico for those working as trainers in companies. Whereas in Germany the chamber requires each company providing training to have at least one certified trainer, in Mexico CAMEXA currently deems it sufficient if the company providing training has been accredited by the company ALTRATEC or by its Chamber of industry and Commerce certified trainers. Cooperation between ALTRATEC and CAMEXA has its basis in a framework agreement for the implementation of the dual system in Mexico, which legitimates ALTRATEC and its 62 employees as implementation partners.

Development of training regulations

Whereas in Germany employers' organisations and trade unions are significantly involved in the development and modernisation of training regulations from the very beginning, in Mexico the employer's side are merely integrated via the government bodies responsible. At federal state level, CONALEP and the companies stipulate in conjunction with ALTATEC which (new) competences need to be acquired in the company and which (new) learning fields should be included. The involvement of ALTRATEC guarantees that new learning content can be added to the German framework curricula to adapt to changed requirements. There is, however, no legally binding concept in place for integrating employer and employee representatives and the state as equal partners in the design of dual training.

Financing of training

The financing of company-based training via trade and industry is a typical characteristic of the German vocational education and training system. In all Mexican states that take part in the dual system, the companies providing training bear the costs for their trainees. These costs include the inter-company training measures, the training staff, the workplace and relevant equipment, books, work clothing, allocated company costs, the IT system for the use of "Konstrulab", the examinations at CAMEXA and the training allowance.

In order to acquire more companies for this training model, the government of Estado de México launched a "scholarship programme for dual vocational education and training" via its funding agency the "Mexican Council for Science and Technology" in the year 2011 (cf. GOBIERNO DE ESTADO DE MEXICO/CONSEJO MEXIQUENSE DE CIENCIAY TECNOLOGÍA [COMECYT] 2013). The federal state thus assumes some of the costs and reduces the burden on the companies.

This scholarship model shows that a network partnership between the state and trade and industry at the financing level is possible in Mexico and creates incentives for companies to provide dual training. In order to ensure that the main responsibility for financing remains with trade and industry for the long term, there are already considerations in various federal states to develop the scholarship model of Estado de México further. One proposal is the degressive structuring of state funding of training remuneration over the course of the three years of training so that the proportion paid by the companies providing training rises as the skills of the trainees increase.

Forecast - expansion of dual training in Mexico

Experiences of Mexican dual vocational education and training thus far show that a combination of theory and company-based training in Mexico is fundamentally possible as long as trade and industry are on board. The constant increase in the number of trainees in the companies from 57 in 2008 to an expected 1,200 at the end of 2013 provides visible signs of concrete success in the "revitalisation of dual training" in Mexico. Nevertheless, the country has a number of hurdles to overcome in the next few years if the dual system of VET is to be expanded further.

  • Legal framework: In order to establish dual training as a fixed form of training, a national consensus is required as to how the objectives, stakeholders and roles in the vocational education and training system should be defined. A suitable instrument in this regard would be a law comparable with the German Vocational Training Act. On the basis of the agreement that is in place with CONALEP, BIBB is currently advising Mexican stakeholders in drawing up national legislation for Mexican dual training.
  • Training contents: In future, regulatory work in Mexico should be specified in such a manner so that proposals made by the employers' organisations in conjunction with CONALEP and the Ministry of Education and proposals made by the federal states inform the regulatory procedure at a national level.
  • Societal acceptance: A stronger information policy combined with advertising campaigns could assist in raising the attractiveness of initial and continuing training in Mexico and thus help increase societal acceptance.
  • General financial conditions: Degressive financing of company-based training by the state could be a central element in fostering the integration of trade and industry. The success of such a model can, however, only be measured once a number of years have passed.
  • Advice via the competent bodies: The wider deployment of qualified advisory provision for companies offering training can act as a vehicle for securing and further developing the quality of training. Competent contact partners need to be available to the companies, trainees, parents and vocational school teachers.

What can Germany learn from the example of Mexico? The process of "tropicalizing" the dual training model in Mexico involves a systematic approach which was jointly adopted by German and Mexican stakeholders. This approach is promising and sustainable. Two points seem to be of particular interest from a German point of view. The imparting of theoretical contents via e-learning platforms could be an interesting alternative in some training occupations where there are not many trainees. In Germany, so-called market disadvantaged young people experience difficulties in making the transition from school to work. The object of investigation here would be to see whether the schools could supplement the placement endeavours of the employment agencies by taking on more of an intermediary role similar to that played by CONALEP and ALTRATEC.

From a Mexican point of view, it is true to say that the country is continuing the further development of the dual model on an ongoing basis and increasing its "tropicalisation".

Literature

SCHNEIDER, U.: ALTRATEC - Seguimiento de Egresados 1996-1999. Santiago Tianguistenco 1999

AGUIRRE, H. et al. (Ed): Colegio Nacional de Educación Profesional Técnica (CONALEP). El Sistema dual de formación técnica en Alemania y en el CONALEP. Metepec 2011

GOBIERNO DE ESTADO DE MEXICO; CONSEJO MEXIQUENSE DE CIENCIA Y
TECNOLOGÍA (COMECYT): Convocatoria para el Otorgamiento de Becas de Educación Dual. San Mateo Atenco 2013. - (Status: 05.08.2013)

SECRETARÍA DE EDUCACIÓN PÚBLICA (SEP): Sistema Educativo, principales cifras, ciclo escolar 2010-2011. Ciudad de México 2011. - (Status: 05.08.2013)

DIANA CÁCERES -REEBS,
Research associate in the "International Cooperation and Advisory Services/German Office for International Cooperation in VET" Division at BIBB

UDO SCHNEIDER
Managing Director of “German-Mexican Alliance for Technology Transfer" (ALTRATEC) in Almoloya del Río/México


Translation from the German original (published in BWP 5/2013): Martin Stuart Kelsey, Global Sprachteam Berlin