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Expertise from BIBB for a new Costa Rican Vocational Training Act

A twelve-strong ministerial delegation from Costa Rica visited the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). Detailed specialist discussions, in which BIBB President Professor Friedrich Hubert Esser (centre of the picture) also took part, supported the debate surrounding a new Vocational Training Act for the Central American country. The visit to BIBB represented the conclusion of a study tour and exploratory trip of around one week’s duration which had focused on the firm legal and institutional foundation which dual education and training enjoys in Germany. The delegation, which also travelled to Berlin and Koblenz, was headed by Costa Rica’s Minister of Education Edgar Mora Altamirano (left). Minister of Labour Steven Núñez Rímola (right) was also one of the guests.

What is the best way of generating the basic principles and elements for a new Vocational Training Act for Costa Rica? Professor Esser took this issue into account during a presentation which contained essential information on aspects such as the origins, development and status of the German Vocational Education and Training Act (BBiG). “This law is the main legal foundation for the governance of the vocational education and training system,” said Professor Esser. He pointed out that the BBiG, which is subjected to reforms where necessary, mainly sets out the key general conditions which govern the structuring of initial and advanced vocational training at the various system levels.

Debate in the field of education was entirely right and proper if, as is the case in Germany, it results in a consensus. “The vital thing about the dual system is that it integrates the social partners, the state, and the academic research community. This has created an arrangement which forms a platform for social dialogue.” And if such processes take time? “That is perfectly normal. With this experience in mind, I would like to strongly encourage you to show patience when you go about the task of developing a new Vocational Training Act in Costa Rica.

"The vital thing about the dual system is that it integrates the social partners, the state, and the academic research community."

BIBB President Esser

Against the background of the present challenges which societies all over the world are forced to confront, Professor Esser pointed out the particular necessity of having an adaptable and sustainable system in which vocational education and training plays a key role. Digitalisation, issues relating to increasing academisation, topics such as migration, refugees and the inclusion of disabled people all meant that new answers and solutions needed to be sought constantly within this context.

In his response, the Costa Rican Minister of Education Edgar Mora emphasised the value of the ideas that he and his delegation would be taking home with them. “And we are sure that our proposals for the new law give great cause for hope,” he continued. Representatives from the specialist departments at BIBB then took the floor to talk about research analyses and project results. The Costa Rican policymaking and technical specialists were especially interested in topics such as the costs and benefits of dual training, vocational education and training in the age of digitalisation, and prognoses relating to skills development.

The study visit also included a formal ceremony at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in Bonn, at which State Secretary Dr. Georg Schütte and Minister of Education Edgar Mora signed a Joint Declaration of Intent. It is three years since Germany and Costa Rica signed an initial Memorandum of Understanding, and this new agreement now continues the cooperation between the two countries and places a greater focus on vocational education and training. The 2016 signing took place in Costa Rica in the presence of BIBB President Esser and Johanna Wanka, the German Minister of Education at the time.

As well as the ministers, the delegation also included Lydia Peralta Cordero, Costa Rican Ambassador to Germany, and the main Costa Rican (vocational) education leaders. They were joined by further ministerial representatives from the field of vocational education and training, members of parliament and other representatives from the National Education Institute (INA), the National Technical University (UTN) and the SEC teachers’ union. The trip to Germany was organised by the German Office for International Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training at BIBB (GOVET) on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the scope of the bilateral cooperation with Costa Rica.