Strengthening and digitalising technical and vocational education and training (TVET)

Online dialogue with the Chancellor Strengthening and digitalising technical and vocational education and training (TVET)

With respect to digitalisation, the Chancellor has advocated making structures in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) “fit for the new age”. Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek sees the digitalisation of training as an “enormous opportunity”. They were both speaking during an online discussion with TVET practitioners and experts.

Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Federal Chancellery during the online dialogue on digitalisation in technical and vocational education and training

Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the importance of ensuring that all actors in technical and vocational education “appreciate the charm of digitalisation”.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

Driving forward the digitalisation of technical and vocational education and training (TVET), providing in-service digital training for teaching staff, networking companies, chambers and vocational schools, and finding more courage to take new paths. These were some of the main points addressed during the online dialogue Digital Transformation in TVET.

Making TVET attractive

During the online discussion, Chancellor Angela Merkel primarily wanted to gain an impression of the successful examples that already exist of digitalisation in training.

At the outset, Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek stressed the importance of digitalising TVET – partly to ensure it is attractive to young people. They need to know “that digitalisation and sustainability have been embraced in dual training every bit as much as at university level,” she pointed out.

Use of virtual reality headsets in training

Susanne Kollmeier provided evidence of the extent to which innovative digital ideas are already used in TVET for a very wide spectrum of sectors. She is employed by a manufacturer of pumps for the food industry and other fields, where she is responsible for digital training modules. Her trainees use virtual reality headsets to familiarise themselves with the finer points of a wider variety of pump technologies. It is a “wonderful opportunity” to introduce young people to pumps that are not available on site, she pointed out. The virtual reality headsets are also used in further training for staff in other countries.

“The master craftspeople can often learn something from trainees”

Udo Schlickenrieder introduced a new perspective. He is responsible for digital upgrading for master craftspersons at a major technology company. How can I use a tablet for training? How can I best use instructional videos? Udo Schlickenrieder believes it is crucial that the hierarchical gap between master craftspeople and trainees is reduced. “Master craftspeople can actually often learn something from trainees, who are more familiar with digital technology.”

Benedikt Salvermoser is a trainee in footwear production – and took part in the online dialogue with the Chancellor on the digital transformation in TVET. Find out here, what he does for the Digiscouts project, to help digitalise his company.

Markus Weitzmann, head of a training centre in Baden-Württemberg, reported on digital training in wood working. The use of drones and digital elements in lathing has been commonplace for some time already. The trainees acquire important digital skills in companies during their dual training.

Trainees write their own blog posts

Nicole Heinrich, head of training for a major service company, reported on new digital procedures in recruitment. Even for the modern job “e-commerce officer” it is difficult to find highly motivated and well qualified applicants, she said. The blog posts on the homepage written by the company’s own trainees are designed to help. They report informally on their everyday activities in the company and at vocational school, and on the exciting spectrum of tasks the job entails.

Many young people have no idea how many attractive professions exist, declared Nicole Heinrich. That is why she would like to see closer links forged between companies, vocational schools and general schools. Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek suggested that more companies could help with careers guidance. They could, for instance, present the traineeships they offer in schools with the help of short films.

Better dovetailing the actors involved in TVET

Closer cooperation between companies, vocational schools and the chambers was an important focus of the discussion. Does the instruction provided at vocational schools respond sufficiently to the needs of companies with respect to these occupations? Are teaching staff sufficiently well trained themselves to offer digital training? Do the people responsible within the chambers of crafts and trades know about the actual course of training inside companies?

All participants in the online dialogue agreed that there is still a lot to be done here – also in terms of digitalising training. According to Chancellor Angela Merkel, the goal must be “for us to better bring together the chambers, the examination committees, the school operators, and the companies, so that they all appreciate the charm of digitalisation, as it were.”

In terms of in-service training for teaching staff, Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek reported that relevant skills centres have been established.

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More courage and greater speed needed

Courage and speed were both mentioned frequently during the dialogue. Hubert Romer, in particular, pointed to the need for Germany to move forward faster in digitalising TVET and declared that more courage was needed. He is CEO of WorldSkills Germany and heads the German team for the skills world championship. In terms of digitalisation, he stated, “Other countries have the courage to experiment more.” Germany is sometimes rather ponderous in its approach, he added.

The Chancellor mentioned that during the pandemic, in particular, we have seen the importance of speed. “Time is of the essence, otherwise it will all vanish into the more or less academic field.”

Plea for lifelong learning

Silicon Valley is synonymous with speed and progress in the digital world. Sebastian Thrun, founder of a digital laboratory for the future, joined the discussion from California. He has developed complete online training courses, that can be used by everyone worldwide as modules. It would help numerous German companies, according to Sebastian Thrun, if their workforce were to undertake professional upgrading. Lifelong learning must become much more the accepted norm, he said.

National education platform will come

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek mentioned the national education platform in this context. Every single person should in future be able to use the platform to better access individually tailored training offers - lifelong. Rounding off the dialogue, the Chancellor concluded, “Germany’s structures are actually very good as they stand. Like all of us, they just need to be made fit for the new age.”

The virtual event was part of the Digital Education Initiative. At the end of April an online dialogue entitled Cultural transformation – digital learning was held. The Chancellor discussed examples of best practices in digital learning teachers, innovators and influencers. On 22 February, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek launched the Digital Education Initiative during an online dialogue. Its goal is to improve digital learning, instruction, and training across the entire spectrum of education.