Making use of the areas of potential offered by cooperation

Hubert Ertl

Dear readers,

Whereas cooperation between learning venues in the dual system has been a traditional object of specialist discourse for some considerable time, we still await a cross-cutting approach towards dealing with new forms and contexts of cooperation within the vocational education and training sector. This seems to be an important prerequisite for the systematisation and stabilisation of cooperation. Against this background, the articles included in the present issue provide a good summary of the various areas in which new types of cooperation are emerging and in which different stakeholders have created cooperative structures that did not previously exist.

Multifarious reasons for cooperation

The causes behind new cooperation forms and strategies show examples of some of the challenges being faced by VET in Germany. Cooperation concepts for the integration of refugees or of people from a migrant background illustrate how working together with external partners can be used as a vehicle for increasing companies’ readiness to provide training. The structuring and support of networks has proved to be a task that should not be underestimated within this process.

Cooperation between general school-based stakeholders in vocational preparation and within the vocational school system represents a further field of collaboration. One interesting aspect is the way in which different types of schools approach the topic with a view to improving pupils’ chances of progressing to fully qualifying training programmes. However, alongside the incentives for cooperation which doubtlessly exist, consideration needs to be accorded to the fact that competition between schools also has a part to play. This is especially true in the case of schools of the same type. The focus needs to be on addressing this issue within the scope of systematic regional school development.

A further reason for new and reinforced cooperation is arising from the endeavours being undertaken to interlink initial and continuing training with a view to establishing a coherent strategy that will secure a supply of skilled workers. This is highlighted via examples from the areas of audiology and sanitary, heating and air conditioning systems. Although the digitalisation of work processes offers incentives to tackle new challenges via networks of training stakeholders, digital and virtual provision also facilitates the intensification of existing cooperation agreements.

Within this context, a further important role is played by the inclusion of higher education institutions in the shaping of vocationally oriented training courses. The models of dual and ‘three-way’ study programmes outlined in this issue present forms of linking occupational practice and conceptual learning which draw their strength from cooperation between higher education and vocational learning venues.

Finally, it is always worthwhile to take a look beyond national borders. The example of Slovakia shows how cooperation between stakeholders at a regional and local level needs to progress and consolidate in order to develop training programmes in a system in which dual vocational education and training is not yet firmly and sustainably established.

Vocationalism as the fulcrum of cooperation

The articles contained in this issue illustrate the necessity of entering into new cooperation agreements and underline the importance of including new cooperation partners. Especially in international comparative terms, alignment towards occupationally structured task patterns in the world of work is demonstrated to be a vital core element of VET in Germany. We should not lose sight of such an orientation and should concentrate on making the concept of vocationalism the key focus of cooperation.


HUBERT ERTL, Prof. Dr., Director of Research and Vice President of BIBB

Translation from the German original (published in BWP 2/2018): Martin Kelsey, GlobalSprachTeam, Berlin