Trainees abroad

BIBB analyses on mobility in dual training occupations

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Every year, thousands of young people take advantage of the chance to spend part of their vocational education and training abroad. But which occupations are well represented and which less so? Participation amongst trainee industrial clerks and by apprentices in some of the electrical occupations is for example, high. By way of contrast, the corresponding figures for management assistants for retail services and sales assistants for retail services tend to be low despite the fact that large numbers of young people undergo training in these occupations. In the latest issue of its specialist journal “Vocational Training in Research and Practice – BWP”, which takes “International Mobility” as its special focus, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) carries out a more detailed investigation of how many trainees in which occupations avail themselves of the opportunity to train abroad.

A recent mobility study conducted by the National Agency Education for Europe (NA) at BIBB shows that a total of 5.3 percent of all trainees in Germany spent part of their training abroad in 2017. Almost one in two received financial support via the EU-funded Erasmus+ programme.

An evaluation of the annexes which German project partners attach to their Erasmus+ final reports further reveal that industrial clerks are by some distance the most significant group amongst the dual occupations. In the 2015 round of funding, 1,788 industrial clerks participated in an Erasmus+ mobility project within the scope of their training. Given the fact that there were 17,352 trainees in the occupation in Germany, this represents a mobility rate of 10.3%. This means that the fifth most popular training occupation in the country has already reached the benchmark set by the German Lower House of Parliament of a mobility rate of ten percent by 2020.

A number of “small” training occupations, i.e. those with low numbers of trainees in overall terms, also exhibit above average mobility rates. 70.37% of investment fund specialists, 23.61% of electronics technicians for building and infrastructure systems and 20% of electrical fitters spent a training period abroad. Goldsmiths (15.59%) and beauticians (14.69%) also displayed a level of mobility above the average. One of the reasons for this could be that one or two committed vocational schools which put relevant mobility provision in place for their pupils are able to account for a significant proportion of all trainees in occupations where numbers of apprentices are relatively low.

The analysis also shows that there are occupations with high numbers of trainees in which the option of training abroad is unlikely to be taken up. The occupations of management assistant for retail services and sales assistant for retail services are particular examples in this regard. Although these were two of the most popular occupations selected in 2016 with 24,216 and 17,583 training contracts concluded respectively, their mobility rates in the Erasmus+ programme are only 0.74 percent and 0.45 percent.

The conclusion arrived at by the experts at the NA is that it will probably be difficult for occupations in which many young people complete training to achieve the same top mobility rates as the small occupations. A greater degree of commitment on the part of those involved with the “major” training occupations could, however, make a considerable contribution towards achieving the benchmark of ten percent by 2020.

In his editorial to the latest issue of BWP, BIBB’s Director of Research Hubert Ertl stresses, “Calls for greater mobility within the European area are precisely the right approach during a time when compromises are proving difficult to achieve at a European level in many policy areas. We need mobility concepts which take account of the particular conditions which prevail in vocational education and training and can incorporate the areas of potential in vocational learning in a beneficial manner.”

The latest BWP issue sketches out a number of examples of practice which highlight this aim. For further information, please consult the BIBB specialist periodical “Vocational Training in Research and Practice – BWP”, Issue 4/2018 on the topic of “International Mobility” at www.bibb.de/en/83087.php (Editorial), and at www.bibb.de/en/83072.php (article from the “Vocational education and training in figures” section). The whole of the journal may be accessed at www.bibb.de/veroeffentlichungen/en/bwp/show/9124.

An English version of the NA mobility study “Transnational Mobility in Initial Vocational Education and Training in 2017” may be downloaded or ordered free at https://www.na-bibb.de/presse/news/studyonmobility/.

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