In the framework of the project VET School Partnership Network, schools from Baden-Württemberg and Bosnia and Herzegovina met to exchange best practices about vocational education and training in Ellwangen, Germany on 9-10 March 2020.
The goal of the event was for the participating schools to experience the German dual vocational education and training (VET) system first-hand with the aim to include the learnings in their joint activities. With 1,8% of unemployment, Ellwangen, a city with around 24.000 residents in the northeast of Baden-Württemberg, is a prime example of the success of the dual vocational education system. Together with the hosting District Vocation School (Kreisberufsschulzentrum Ellwangen), several small and medium-sized companies offer dual vocational education and training in various fields such as bank assistance, retail, medical technology or geriatric care.
The Ellwangen District Vocational School, which is also involved in the project, practices various models of dual education in different fields which makes it especially suitable for offering an insight into the everyday teaching practice. The representatives of the partner schools including the Commercial School Geislingen, the Robert-Bosch-School Ulm, the Economic Vocation School Sarajevo, the Secondary Vocational school Orašje and the Gradiška Secondary Vocational and Technical School had the opportunity to visit classes discuss with teachers and pupils. The school has an extended network of partner companies who also were invited to share their methodology and experience with participants.
Teaching staff, pupils and representatives of training companies agreed that the most important benefits of dual VET are:
- its practice-oriented nature (learning takes place both at the school and at the company),
- trainees receiving financial support during the training
- the chance that after finishing, trainees have a high chance of staying at the company where they did their training.
As Karl-Heinz Fidelak, Team Leader of Youth Career Counselling at the Employment Agency of Aalen pointed out, that in spite of the proven success of the dual training system, there are some new challenges that both the companies and schools need to face. As more and more young people opt for advanced studies, it is difficult to find enough qualified applicants to fill the available training places. Representatives of chambers and companies confirmed that presence at VET fairs and advertising are key to get the best applicants.
The second day of the meeting was dedicated to company visits. Participants visited the Arnulf Betzold GmbH Ellwangen, an online retailer for school supplies, VR-Bank, the District Court of Ellwangen, EnBW ODR Energy supply company and Peter Stelzer Tinsmith.
At the end of the meeting, Bosnian partners emphasised that the study visits were very helpful in learning more about how dual studies work in Germany and expressed that they are already working on implementing some solutions in their schools that can fit in the Bosnian context.
The next step for partner schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina is to try setting up partnerships with companies for dual vocational education and training and see which elements they can implement from the Southern German examples.
The project is funded by the State Ministry of Baden-Württemberg.