Vocational education and training

Well-qualified specialists for sustainable development

Trainee mechanics at the Kabul Mechanical Institute in Afghanistan

Vocational training is the cornerstone of sustainable economic development. But it is more than that, vocational education and training are an important part of people's personal development. By providing a secure livelihood and giving people confidence in their own abilities, vocational training gives people self-assurance to play their part in society.

Education and training courses geared to the needs of the labour market enable people to find a job or create their own. They can earn an income, overcome poverty on their own and lead a decent life. Enterprises become more competitive as more skilled staff become available. This in turn creates a favourable framework for sustainable economic growth, which benefits all sectors of society.

Situation in the developing countries

Students of the ETEKA motor vehicle vocational training institute in Kabgayi, Rwanda, working on an engine

Vocational training can only have a positive impact if it meets the requirements of society and the local labour market. This is not yet the case in many of Germany's partner countries.

Training courses are often not appropriate to workplace reality and companies may not recognise the qualifications obtained. There is a shortage of vocational training colleges, existing ones are poorly equipped and many of the curricula are out of date. As a general rule, vocational education and training systems are severely underfunded. The informal sector is seldom involved in training, even though it provides jobs for large numbers of people.

One of the problems facing many developing countries is rapid population growth. Although many countries are seeing strong economic growth, jobs are not growing at the same rate. Existing jobs often cannot be filled because the required skills are not available. Hence, large sections of the population are unable to benefit from economic growth. The consequent lack of prospects – especially for the young generation – is an increasing threat to social peace in many countries and a breeding ground for internal conflict.

The German commitment

One of the 10 objectives of the education strategy of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is to step up the commitment to vocational education and training still further, not in isolation, but in conjunction with other activities in the priority area of education and with other fields of development cooperation such as sustainable economic development, environmental protection and resource conservation, and rural development.

The BMZ's education strategy is setting new accents in vocational training. Germany has set out, under its programme of development cooperation, to help its partner countries align their education systems overall with the requirements of lifelong learning. The aim is to ensure that education systems remain flexible and take equal account of, for example, not just formal, but also non-formal vocational training programmes and forms of informal learning.

Vocational training is becoming steadily more important within German development policy, which is reflected inter alia in the level of commitments. Between 2009 and 2013, funding for projects of this type more than doubled, from 44.5 million euros to 92.3 million euros. The amount currently earmarked for 2014 is 154.3 million euros.

That makes Germany by far the largest bilateral donor for vocational education and training. In recent years, German funding in this field has exceeded that of the EU Commission and the World Bank.

Link to the sub-chapter

BMZ glossary

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