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  1. Chapter 3: Future skills and work - Completed inquiries - Productivity Commission
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The two elements are mutually reinforcing: theory facilitates a well-grounded approach to practical problems; while practice in turn supports theory by providing a continuous flow of real world examples and applications. Such mutual reinforcement works best when a student attends both environments on a regular basis.

Continuous updating of training regulations

A set of key institutions underpin the dual system. Employers, through the Economic Chambers, have a longstanding and well-established role in preparing the curriculum, supervising the provision of workplace training, and devising the assessment regime. This role effectively commits employers to the apprenticeship system, and binds employer support into the apprenticeship qualifications. The framework therefore ensures not only a strong pedagogical approach in the integration of school and workplace learning, but also the institutional structure which support employer offers of workplace training and recognition of qualifications.

A virtuous circle is established, linking a good status of VET with student willingness to pursue apprenticeship training, employer commitment to apprentices, and good labour market returns from apprenticeship training. It is no surprise that VET tends to have a higher status in Germany than in many other countries, and that the powerful structures of the dual system have been applied successfully to higher level technical trades which would involve tertiary education in other countries. To summarise, those strengths are: Vocational education and training is deeply embedded and widely respected in German society.

It prepares young people for a wide spectrum of professions. The qualifications obtained continue to have currency in the labour market, and the system has remained sufficiently flexible to phase out unwanted programmes and bring on line new programmes in response to the emergence of new fields or occupations. The dual system is especially well-developed in Germany, integrating work-based and school-based learning to prepare apprentices for a successful transition to full-time employment Quintini and Manfredi, As a consequence, youth unemployment is very low by international standards see Figure B.

The distinctive pedagogy for the school-based component of the dual system, is heavily problem-based and links theory and practice in innovative ways. But the system is also characterised by an intricate web of checks and balances at the national, state, municipal, and company levels that ensures that the short-term needs of employers do not distort the broader educational and economic goals of the apprenticeship system.

The dual system also benefits from a clear division of responsibilities between the federal government, the states, and the private sector, a division enshrined in statute and carefully worked out over time. The VET system as a whole is well-resourced, combining public and private funding to support not only the dual system and full-time vocational schools but a wide range of transition programmes for young people needing additional support before being able to enter full-time training.

Germany has maintained strong financial support for the VET system despite the economic recession, and employers have maintained the offer of apprenticeship places to counteract rising youth unemployment and possibly also in anticipation of future labour shortages due to demographic change.

Chapter 3: Future skills and work - Completed inquiries - Productivity Commission

Germany has a highly respected federal research institute focused on the VET system the BIBB , and a national network of smaller research centres that study different aspects of the system. Consequently, there is a much stronger investment in formative research designed to support continuous innovation and improvement in the German system than in other countries. This is yet another indication of the priority placed on vocational education and training in Germany, and a key contributor to the continuing health and vitality of the VET system.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for Youth Employment

Those challenges are: The transition system, now serving nearly as many young people as the dual system, suffers from undue fragmentation and an absence of transparency. Given the early age at which German students are expected to choose a profession, universal access to high quality career information and guidance is essential. Career guidance, however, is variable in quality and coverage with no single agency responsible for assuring delivery of quality information and guidance services to all students.

The very weak PISA results for some Hauptschule students suggest one reason why many young people fail to make a successful transition from compulsory school to VET. The evaluation of dual system students at the end of their apprenticeship is dominated by the final Chamber exam that determines whether they receive their formal VET qualification.

Expanding participation in tertiary education as already attempted by the German government is important not only for reasons of equity and social mobility, but also to sustain Germanys ability to compete in a global economy in which knowledge, information, and technological innovation will play an increasingly important role. A major contextual challenge in Germany is the demographic change leading to shrinking cohort sizes see Figure 1. This phenomenon already has a severe impact, in particular in the Eastern part of Germany where schools have had to be merged because of too small class sizes.

Source: Statistisches Bundesamt , Bevlkerung Deutschlands bis - Koordinierte Bevlkerungsvorausberechnung, Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden. But the system also faces several challenges. Too many students fail to manage the transition from compulsory schooling to vocational programmes, and many have inadequate basic numeracy and literacy skills.

Skills beyond school

Despite recent initiatives, the transition from VET into tertiary education remains difficult. Most of these challenges are widely recognised in Germany, and measures are in hand, both at federal and Lnder level, to address them. To support the reform process, we advance five interconnected recommendations. First, we propose the creation of co-ordinating committees for the transition system in each Land, linked to the systematic appraisal of the cost-effectiveness of individual measures. Second, a strengthened career guidance system is essential and consideration should be given to the establishment of a pre-apprenticeship year as part of the dual system.

Third, greater attention should be given to the literacy and numeracy skills of VET students. Fourth, the school and workplace elements in the final assessment of the dual system should be integrated. Fifth, a range of measures are necessary to improve access to higher education. For those aged the proportion of individuals without formal VET qualifications Ungelerntenquote was highest among young people who failed to complete lower secondary education with the minimum school leaving certificate Box 2.

It has three main functions: to help young people to achieve apprenticeshipreadiness, to enable them to obtain some form of school-leaving qualification, and to act as a bridging measure until they are able to enter regular vocational training. BMBF a identified individual programmes, 21 at federal level the rest at Lnder level. They vary in length, management arrangements and target group. Other options include a pre-vocational year Berufsvorbereitungsjahr or a basic vocational year Berufsgrundbildungsjahr as well as a great variety of programmes and courses offered by the Employment Agency and different private education providers Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, , p.

Further measures to facilitate the transition include career guidance, support in finding an apprenticeship place, special programmes to make young people apprenticeship-ready, and apprenticeship programmes in workshop settings auerbetriebliche Einrichtungen rather than with employers. Between and the proportion of new entrants to the VET system who go straight to an apprenticeship decreased while the proportion enrolling in some form of transition offer has increased. But in the number of entrants into the transition system decreased for the first time since see Figure 2. Employer offers of apprenticeship training are limited; even though the gap between new and old Lnder is closing over time Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, , E.

These numbers are better captured in the extended definition erweiterte Definition of apprenticeship demand and supply Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, , p. These include students who go back to the school system or complete a year of voluntary work in the social sector because they cannot find an adequate apprenticeship place and students who enrol in the transition system because they are classified as not apprenticeship-ready by the Federal Employment Agency Bundesagentur fr Arbeit. Students with migrant backgrounds are at particular risk Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, , p.

Figure 2. Vocational education in the dual system Education in full-time vocational schools Transition system. Source: Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung , Bildung in Deutschland , Ein indikatorengesttzter Bericht mit einer Analyse zu Perspektiven des Bildungssystems im demographischen Wandel, Bertelsmann, Bielefeld.

Labour market demand for the under-qualified is predicted to decrease further Bonin et al. Solid evaluations of transition measures are not always available Management of the transition programmes, many of which are offered by private providers, is very fragmented. Since the transition system is at the intersection of education, labour market and social policy, many actors are involved and responsibilities are not always clear. Data on enrolment and costs are only available at an aggregate level and labour market outcome data are sparse.

Programme evaluations indicate variable success Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, , p. An overview evaluation of the transition system BMBF, b remains at quite a general level. The new national education panel study Nationales Bildungspanel promises some good data, including information on education choices and careers, influence of family and migrant backgrounds, returns to education and development of competences over a lifetime.

Data will be collected at important transition points in early childhood education, primary, secondary and higher as well as further education, and the transition from VET and tertiary education into work and first results from the samples will be available from onwards. But samples will be too small and not sufficiently representative to evaluate specific programmes. Recommendation Create a coordinating committee for the transition system within each Land to improve co-operation between stakeholders and make transition offers more transparent.

Supporting arguments There are five arguments to support the recommendation: first, demographic change increases the urgency of reform; second, the system currently in place is both costly and inefficient; third, Germany has recognised the challenge and initiated a promising reform process on which further efforts can build; fourth, co-operation between the different stakeholders involved is essential for success; fifth, identifying and rolling out successful initiatives is an effective way to improve the quality of transition offers. Demographic decline and an increase in dependency rates heightens the urgency of reform Due to a low birth rate, the number of young people is decreasing and is projected to continue shrinking in the future see Figure 1.

This changing context is likely to have a twofold impact: first, employers will have less choice among apprenticeship candidates. Second, demographic change means that with relatively fewer people entering the labour force, it will be essential to make the fullest use of the potential of each individual including those who currently do not manage transition in the labour force. The current transition system is both inefficient and costly Current arrangements to take care of students at risk of leaving the system with very poor qualifications are problem-ridden.

The transition system has been characterised by stakeholders as being not a system but a jungle, with a confusing variety of isolated measures that too often fail to lead to successful outcomes. On average, transition participants attend 1. Often transition system programmes do not lead to a full qualification. Relatively few of those exiting a transition measure immediately begin a training course leading to a full qualification Beicht, Only a third find an apprenticeship place and many become unemployed Baethge, Solga and Wieck, The transition system is costly though the exact costs are hard to estimate due to the fragmentation of the system and the number of providers involved.

But such measures also yield benefits for the government and society, the study argues, including saving in the longterm cost of unemployment and social security benefits. Other cost estimates have been published in the national education report Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung, , see Table 2.

The study estimates average costs of EUR 5 per pupil for VET programmes in full-time schools, including the basic vocational year and EUR 6 per pupil for the pre-vocational year. Table 2. Estimated cost average cost estimated EUR 5. Estimated cost average cost estimated EUR 6. Estimated stock of participants average of a given year 4. Comprises course cost, training subsidies for handicapped and non-handicapped participants in nonhandicapped-specific courses Source: Various sources, quoted in Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung , Bildung in Deutschland , Ein indikatorengesttzter Bericht mit einer Analyse zu bergngen im Anschluss an den Sekundarbereich I, Bertelsmann, Bielefeld.

Germany has recognised the problem and initiated a reform process Germany has made an impressive commitment to tackling the challenges. In it launched Perspektive Berufsabschluss www. Consequently, the BMBF has developed an ambitious project Education Chains Bildungsketten whose goal is to abolish isolated transition offers, connect the various steps in a persons education career and support those who have difficulties at the transition points. The website of the initiative can be found at: www.

Assessment according to Germany-wide standards will take place at 7th grade. Following a screening procedure, two strategies are envisaged: inside schools to support students in acquiring core basic skills and outside schools where a coach supports the young people in managing the transition to VET each coach being responsible for up to 20 students. The OECD supports this initiative; the recommendations below provide additional evidence-based advice on how to put these strategies into action.

Fostering institutionalised co-operation between different stakeholders involved is essential To increase transparency, clearer responsibilities and better co-operation between the different actors involved are necessary. While there will always be many stakeholders, the regulation of the transition system should be more explicit in assigning responsibilities as recommended in the evaluation of the transition system BMBF, b.

Transition programmes need to be directly managed at local level close to the clients following the principle of subsidiarity.

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To create a link between a central locus of responsibility and funding and local management, a coordinating committee for the transition system should be established in each Land. Such a body would provide a forum for stakeholders to meet and exchange information and ensure that local structures do not fragment.

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It could also have the function of evaluating transition measures and feeding back the information to a central body overseeing and at least partly funding the Education Chain reform initiative. Some initiatives show promising results and could usefully be implemented elsewhere Many initiatives are in place but only some of them work.

Knowledge about what works is currently poorly developed and mostly concentrated at local level. Identifying which programmes are most successful and cost-effective and rolling them out to the rest of the country would take advantage of an already existing pool of best practice. Some countries have established effective information platforms to share examples of best practice in a decentralised way.

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