3.11 Current debates and reforms
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According to the 2020 Report on vocational education and training (Berufsbildungsbericht 2020), current challenges for the vocational training field include:
- the situation on the vocational training market
- the decline in the number of individuals undergoing dual apprenticeships
- vocational training in the fields of healthcare, education and social services
- better matching of supply and demand
- an increase in the number of terminated contracts
- factors influencing career choices
- companies’ contribution towards vocational training
- the number of adults without a vocational qualification.
In June 2019 the federal government discussed a draft bill to modernise and strengthen vocational education and training (Gesetzentwurf zur Modernisierung und Stärkung der beruflichen Bildung). It seeks to modernise and strengthen Germany’s dual system of vocational training by, amongst other things, introducing minimum pay for apprentices. The major intended changes include:
- Minimum pay for apprentices under the Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz, BBiG)
- Strengthening and developing vocational training schemes leading to higher qualifications by offering transparent, modular vocational courses and recognisable, attractive qualification names
- More flexible deployment of graders in final exams
- Greater permeability within the vocational training system as a whole; e.g., possibility to waive examination requirements if candidates have relevant formal vocational experience
- More part-time vocational training schemes.
In connection with the recognition of skills gained by young people in non-formal and informal learning environments, an informal group of writers from across various organisations has published a white paper entitled Recognising young people's competencies – promoting career entry (Kompetenzen junger Menschen anerkennen – den Berufseinstieg fördern). The paper offers basic benchmarks for recognising the non-formal and informal competencies gained by young people as they work go gain a qualification. It contributes to the discussion on developing the German Qualifications Framework (Deutscher Qualifikationsrahmen, DQR)with a special focus on recognising non-formal and informal skills gained by young people who are transitioning from school to work.
The Coronavirus pandemic continues to impact heavily on Germany. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, BMAS) has adopted a large number of measures to mitigate that impact, including adjustments to short-time worker pay (Kurzarbeitergeld) and easier access to basic income (Grundsicherung) to help bridge the gap until the situation improves.
With the Act to promote CPD (Gesetz zur Förderung der beruflichen Weiterbildung im Strukturwandel und zur Weiterentwicklung der Ausbildungsförderung, known for short as the Arbeit-von-morgen-Gesetz), BMAS has stepped up its efforts in this area, continuing to align its CPD support activities with the changes resulting from Germany’s demographic development, continuing digitalisation and sustainability.
With the reform of the Child and Youth Services Act (Kinder- und Jugendhilfegesetz, KJHG), which entered into force in June 2021, the inclusion of young people and their enabling or facilitating “to interact in a self-determined manner in all areas of life that affect them, in accordance with their age and individual abilities, and thus participate in life in society on an equal footing” (Section 1(3)(2) of Book VIII of the Social Code (SGB VIII)) became a guiding principle of child and youth welfare and therefore of all occupational child and youth welfare services, especially youth vocational assistance and work-related youth social work. What this means in detail for the various services provided in the different fields of practice and in cooperation with employment administration is only now starting to become the focus of the current professional discussion (cf. Der Paritätische 2020).
The 16th Child and Youth Report of the federal government (Deutscher Bundestag 2020) was present-ed a few months before the new legal regulations of the Act to Strengthen Children and Youth (KJSG) came into force. The report looked at the importance of political and democratic education for young people during the various phases of childhood and adolescence. Two key areas here were vocational education and training and the importance of political education in the world of work on the one hand, and youth social work on the other. The report devoted separate chapters to each of these, albeit in varying degrees of detail.
With regard to the political education of young people in the world of work (Deutscher Bundestag 2020, pp. 239-266), the report diagnoses “a significant deficit of systematic, conceptual and empirical research, as well as corresponding focal points in the basic and further training of vocational school teachers, company trainers and trades union education both for young people and adults. There is an urgent need for resources for research projects and basic structures both in higher education and in continuing education and training for skilled workers” (Deutscher Bundestag 2020, p. 266). Youth social work was considered in the report to be a hitherto “undervalued area” (Deutscher Bun-destag 2020, p. 477ff.) in the sense that both the professional discussion itself and the services and institutions specialised in political education have not yet systematically considered the possibilities afforded by this field of practice. A discussion has now begun on how educating young people about democracy can become a sustainable aspect of youth social work (cf. Kooperationsverbund Jugendsozialarbeit 2021; see also Issue 26 of the magazine DREIZEHN – Zeitschrift für Jugendsozi-alarbeit on “youth social work as an undervalued area for political education”).