Internationalisation of vocational training is both a fact and a challenge. It is associated with consequences for the German dual system and for VET systems worldwide.
For some considerable time, it has no longer been possible to discuss or respond to issues relating to the future of vocational education and training within national contexts alone. The German VET system has been embedded into cross-border developments since as early as the 1980’s, when European educational programmes were established. Over recent years, the significance of aspects of the internationalisation of vocational education and training has increased greatly. Individually speaking, the term “internationalisation” encompasses various phenomena. These permeate and exert a reciprocal effect on one another rather than being mutually independent.
In respect of Germany, initial mention should be made of the consequences of worldwide interlinking of the markets for goods and services and of labour markets for the structuring of the national VET system. The focus here is on aspects such as the integration of international and intercultural competences into initial and continuing training as well as on endeavours to secure recognition in Germany for professional and vocational qualifications acquired abroad. In recent times, this has also included the requirements which arise as a result of the challenge of integrating refugees and people from a migrant background.
BIBB is addressing this thematic area via the following activities. Increasing consideration is being accorded to international requirements in the development of new training regulations and further development of existing regulations. Development of the portal for the recognition of qualifications acquired abroad and the project to monitor the implementation of the Recognition Act are also both housed at BIBB.
Internationalisation of vocational education and training, however, also means the further development of processes within the framework of European educational policy conveyed by programmes and strategies. Particular mention should be made in this regard of promotion of regional mobility for teachers and learners and of cross-border cooperation agreements.
Within the European education area, BIBB is involved in the implementation and piloting of the EQF, ECVET and EQAVET instruments and also participates in the validation of informal learning. In addition to this, the National Agency – Education for Europe, which is based at BIBB, is responsible for implementation of the EU Erasmus+ programme in the fields of VET and adult education in Germany.
Internationalisation of vocational education and training also means working together with partners abroad, in particular wide-ranging VET cooperation and consultancy on issues relating to system development. The emphasis here is on international VET cooperation on both a bilateral and multilateral basis and also more generally on support from the German education and training sector with regard to the export of VET services.
BIBB is active in VET cooperation and in system consultancy in multifarious ways. Numerous advisory activities are bundled together at the German Office for International Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training (GOVET), which is based at BIBB. The iMOVE initiative provides a comprehensive range of services to support German providers of initial and continuing training seeking to tap into international markets.
Finally, internationalisation means entering into discourse with experts and partners abroad. The emphasis is on networking on relevant topics such as academic theories and methods, national action strategies and approaches and the development of joint initiatives and projects. Joint and reciprocal learning form the main focus. This enables important foundations for the further development of the respective national vocational education and training systems to be put in place at the same time.
BIBB maintains numerous international contacts for the implementation of all the bundled activities it hosts and is active in several international networks. The monitoring of VET systems and the execution of comparative research projects also take place on the basis of these contacts and networks.