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Information about the project

Together with trade unions from Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Slovakia, Costa Rica and South Africa, the Unions4VET project works for better quality in VET (Vocational Education & Training). The background on the creation of the Unions4VET project and current developments can be found here.

The Unions4VET project

The "Unions4VET project - strategies to promote sustainability and build up capacities of trade union commitment in international cooperation in vocational education and training" has been sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) since June 2015, initially until September 2018. The BMBF sponsorship is part of the German government’s strategy to internationalise vocational education and training.

The objectives of the project are to strengthen international cooperation between trade unions in vocational education and training and to raise the quality of VET. The procedure pursued by Unions4VET has two main thrusts: firstly, a systematic exchange of views is held between the participating trade unions at a bilateral, international level in order to pass on knowledge, experience and examples of good practice, to promote mutual learning and to develop joint approaches of action and strategies to improve the quality of vocational education and training. Secondly, instruments to raise the quality of VET are jointly developed and distributed during bilateral pilot projects.

The bilateral, international exchange of views between the participating trade unions is directed at two main topics: during the first phase of the project, the focus was on defining the challenges facing the design of contents for vocational education and training and on developing approaches to improve the quality of VET, particularly with regard to learning on-the-job. An international conference was held in Berlin on 9th November 2015 initially defined the major challenges facing good training in each of the countries and in Europe, whilst common positions were developed. Building on this, experiences were exchanged in bilateral workshops and expanded on by conferences in the participating countries. In order to take account of the particular situation in the countries of Southern Europe, a conference of trade unions from Greece, Italy and Portugal was held in Athens in November 2016. In the second phase of the project, the focus was on controlling vocational education and training with the aim of developing strategies and approaches for a greater involvement of trade unions in the governance in their countries. After a joint, international kick-off conference in September 2017 in Riga, at which the partner organisations discussed models of good control in vocational education and training from a trade union perspective, this exchange of views is currently being continued in bilateral workshops and at conferences.

Pilot projects for the joint development of instruments to improve the quality of vocational education and training and to build up trade union capacities were and are being performed, especially with the Greek and Italian partner organisations. Working together with the Greek trade union institute INE-GSEE, the DGB and bfw developed a concept for trainee mentoring and approaches to improve the quality of vocational education and training in tourism. A project will be performed in May 2018 to jointly develop a train-the-trainer concept. Pilot projects with the Italian partner trade unions CGIL, CISL and UIL in Piedmont and Tuscany primarily aim to build up trade union capacities in the design of vocational education and training. They comprise the training of trade union representatives and foresee mutual study visits of German and Italian trade unionists and works councillors to mutually pass on vocational education and training practice in the countries.

The project is being coordinated by the DGB and bfw - Unternehmen für Bildung.

Partners in the project are trade unions from Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Slovakia, CostaRica and South Africa

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) works together with different partner countries in an international cooperation in vocational education. The aims are to promote economic development and to improve social stability in the respective countries.

In order to achieve this aim, vocational education and training is promoted by specialists in the non-academic field and it is intended to implement national standards in VET. The objective is to enable young people to become more employable through alternating, practical training at the vocational school and in the works. The requirement for skilled labour in the regional and national economies is to be covered by involving regional enterprises in apprenticeships.

Cooperation in vocational education and training at a bilateral level opens both opportunities and benefits in various fields for the German economy. Service providers have the opportunity to export their offers of initial and advanced training abroad.

German companies (which perhaps import goods for their own production) profit from well-trained labour.
The basic principles of cooperation in vocational education and training were formulated by the German government in its strategic paper “Collaboration in vocational education and training from one source” in July 2013. These principles include the inclusion of social partners, learning at work, implementing national standards, deploying qualified personnel in vocational education and training and institutionalised research and advice in VET.

The BMBF’s Website

Information on the two other strategic projects, SCIVET and VETnet, which are funded in the context of the bilateral BMBF vocational education and training cooperation, can be found here.

German Trade Union Confederation

The German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) is responsible for executing the Unions4VET project together with bfw - Unternehmen für Bildung. The German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) stands for solidarity in society. It is the voice of the trade unions towards political decision-makers, parties and associations at federal, state and local levels. It coordinates trade union activities. The eight member unions in the German Federation of Trade Unions negotiate with employers to improve tariff policies and they represent their members in the enterprises. At an international level, the DGB works in the European Federation of Trade Unions (ETUC) and in the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and represents the German trade union movement at international institutions, such as the EU and the UNO. Vocational education and training and apprenticeships are central policies of the DGB and its member trade unions. As part of the ETUC, the DGB has been involved in determining 20 quality standards and criteria, which define good vocational education and training from a trade union point of view.
The DGB works in European policies for VET on the basis of these criteria. The Unions4VET project, together with different trade unions from Europe, Costa Rica and South Africa, develops strategies to improve the quality of vocational education and training and to promote trade union involvement in the control of vocational education and training.

Website of the German Federation of Trade Unions

bfw - Unternehmen für Bildung

The Charitable, Further Training Works Educational Institution of DGB GmbH (bfw) is one of the leading education service providers in Germany. As a charity for further vocational training, the company has been committed to securing jobs with a future and to covering the need for skilled labour through qualification, advice and mediation for more than 60 years now. Around 1,800 people are professionally employed in some 200 educational institutions and training shops throughout Germany. They provide qualifications to around 45,000 each year. bfw offers holistic educational service from one source – for job-seekers, students, trainees and workers as well as for companies, public-sector institutions and municipalities. bfw is present throughout Germany, although it has its roots in the regions.

Website of the bfw - Unternehmen für Bildung.

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