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“Success depends on the competence of training staff”

BIBB President Esser takes part in a podium discussion in Stuttgart

f.l.t.r.: Dr. Ernst John, Prof. Dr. Friedrich Hubert Esser, Lothar Guckeisen (moderator), Dr. Susanne Eisenmann, Eugen Straubinger© Nic Weber

Speaking during a podium discussion at the “didacta” education fair, the President of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Friedrich Hubert Esser, stressed the importance of training staff for the quality and further development of vocational education and training. “The degree to which the challenges facing VET can be successfully overcome, especially in connection with the digital Transformation of the world of work, depends on the competence of company-based and school-based trainers. If we do not manage to take teachers and trainers along with us and deliver initial and advanced training to them via relevant provision, then the whole thing will not work,” warned the BIBB President.

The digital transformation of the world of work and its effects on schools and companies formed the main focus of the podium discussion in Stuttgart, which looked at the topic of “Vocational education and training – performance and challenge”. Taking part in the debate alongside Professor Esser were Susanne Eisenmann, Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs of the State of Baden-Württemberg and current President of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (KMK), Hessen’s Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs Alexander Lorz and Ernst John und Eugen Straubinger, the chairs of the Federal Association of Teachers at Commercial Schools and of the Federal Association of Teachers at Vocational Schools respectively.

Professor Esser went on to say that it was crucial to develop teachers’ and trainers’ media expertise further and to convince them that they could raise the quality of training at both dual learning venues, the school and the company, and improve learning outcomes in overall terms by using the latest technology. He expressed the firm view that they would then be open to the relevant training provision. This would be the best way of tapping into the potential and opportunities clearly offered by the digital transformation of vocational education and training, and would also enable training staff to fulfil the important future role of acting as multipliers in VET.

However, Professor Esser pointed out that both policy makers and trade and industry had some homework to do first. The nature of the minimum equipment for a “School 4.0” or “Company 4.0” and the resulting training requirements for the respective staff had by no means been clarified. The same yardstick should not, for example, be applied to an upper secondary school, a commercial vocational school, a technical vocational school and an inter-company training centre, or to a small and medium-sized enterprise and a major company. This was an area in which there was a need for ambitious and individual approaches towards the initial and continuing training of training staff and the special media expertise required for this purpose.

All of the participants in the podium discussion agreed that a further challenge for vocational education and training was the more efficient structuring of the transitional area from school to VET. The universal view was that school and company practice needed to be better interlinked so as to enable pupils to develop more realistic ideas of the world of work. Professor Esser emphasised: “We must act earlier to support the career choice process undertaken by young people and young adults, and this means starting in schools with Year 7.” He stated that the educational chains approach adopted by the Federal Government and federal states was a highly promising route in this regard and should in future be deployed even more widely in practice.

The podium discussion in Stuttgart also touched upon further topics such as the growing matching problems on the training places market, the ongoing trend towards higher education study, permeability between academic and vocational education, the apprenticeship entry maturity of young people and young adults, the increasing heterogeneity of target groups, demographic developments and the impending shortage of skilled workers.