A high-ranking delegation of stakeholders involved in Sino-German research cooperation accompanied Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka on a trip to Beijing and Shanghai with a view to strengthening collaboration between China and Germany in academic and scientific research. Minister Wanka and the Chinese Research Minister Wan Gang signed a joint declaration during the visit, which also provided an opportunity to award to Wan Gang the Grand Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of the commitment he has shown in furthering networking between the two countries in the field of academic and scientific research.
Friedrich Hubert Esser, President of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, was also part of the delegation. His presentation on the implications of “Economy 4.0” for training within the German VET system formed the focal point of the 2nd German-Chinese Vocational Education and Training Conference, which led to an extensive exchange of views on the changes taking place in vocational training. In front of an audience that comprised around 200 Chinese and German experts, Professor Esser emphasised that the changes associated with increasing digitalisation represented a challenge to the adaptability of the vocational education and training system. “Training for Economy 4.0 also requires strong learning environments,” he stated. Relevant current studies and projects being undertaken at the BIBB were already supporting the process of developing the vocational system, and Economy 4.0 was also a major opportunity to make vocational education and training more attractive in Germany again. In addition to this, the interlinking of occupations with modern technology was leading to a growth in permeability between educational areas that were once separate. “This is making vocational training more prestigious again and is in particular increasing the interest of young people.”
During his journey to Beijing and Shanghai, the BIBB President also met Liu Lixin, Deputy Head of the BIBB partner institute “Central Institute of Vocational and Technical Education” (CIVTE). Liu welcomed the fact that a second Chinese academic researcher will be temporarily deployed at BIBB from April 2016. He also stated that the topics forming the main focus of the research visit – “Training regulations” and “Digitalisation in vocational training” – were highly promising.
At a further meeting, representatives from the five major economic regions of Henan, Hubei, the city of Zhongshan (Guangdong province), Xinjiang and the city of Taicang (Jiangsu province) reported on the approaches they had adopted to provide training that was more in line with the German model. Professor Esser also learned of the endeavours being undertaken by the Chinese to establish a principle of consensus and cooperation between individual learning venues. Finally, a meeting with China’s Deputy Minister of Education concentrated on the challenges of a VET reform.