Short and to the point: Germany can teach us about training


It’s training guidelines for apprentices in hospitality takes 66 pages – Australia’s package is 2444 pp

As Australia embarks on VET qualification reforms designed to focus on “transferable and relevant skills” it has been instructive being in Germany and discussing their VET system with government officials, trade union and employer representatives and Dr Junmin Li a VET expert from the University of Cologne.

On a previous trip to study the German VET system I focussed on how it was adapting to Industry 4.0. This time I was visiting in my role as a director of apprenticeship and employment services provider, MEGT, and hence the discussions focussed more on the nuts and bolts of how the German apprenticeship system currently works and on potential future reforms.

From an Australian perspective it was fascinating to see how little detail there is in the regulated training plans issued for apprenticeships and to see how much trust there is from unions and employers in VET providers and the apprenticeship system (no doubt because of the key role both parties play in it).

Germany has no need for thousands of pages of highly prescriptive Training Package content. Instead the regulations for the work-based training component of an apprenticeship for someone wanting to work in the hotel industry state that all apprentices will learn about 12 broad topics (for example dealing with guests, advising and sales; hygiene; housekeeping services, etc).

And the specifics someone needs to learn about hygiene are simply: “observe hygiene rules and principles that apply to personnel and operations” and “use disinfectants and cleansers efficiently”.

And that’s it.

Employers and unions trust the companies will teach people to work hygienically because (a) each company must be approved to employ apprentices and (b) the training is independently assessed. Vocational colleges have similarly minimal guidelines specifying the details of the training they offer. The system relies on deep tripartite engagement and independent assessment.

Collectively the German guidelines for colleges and companies to train apprentices in hospitality run to just 66 pages. By contrast Australia’s Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Training Package runs to 2,444 pages!

As Australia pursues VET qualification reforms and more tripartite approaches to skills development, we should also look at introducing independent assessment – perhaps overseen by the Jobs and Skills Councils – to reduce complexity in the system while maintaining confidence.

Thanks to Dr Li and the representatives from BIBB, NRW DGB, and unternehmer nrw who MEGT met with, for sharing their insights and expertise


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