ATC120227: Report Study tour to the Federal Republic of Germany on 02 – 09 December 2011, dated 22 February 2012

Basic Education



The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, having undertaken an international study tour to Germany from 02 – 09 December 2011reports as follows:


1. Introduction

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training undertook a study tour to the Federal Republic of Germany from 02 – 09 December 2011. The main purpose of the study tour was to obtain in-depth knowledge of the German post school education system with special focus on vocational education and training (VET) and skills development. The study tour was also a benchmarking exercise to ascertain the level of South Africa’s post school education system compared with that of Germany to ensure that best practices may be incorporated into the country’s post school education system.


The Committee interacted with various stakeholders including federal government ministries responsible for vocational education and training and skills development. During the study tour visit, the Committee had an opportunity to interact with the following stakeholders / ministries, namely: the South African Embassy, the Confederation of German Trade Union, Siemens, the German Parliament, Humbodlt University, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Chamber of Skilled Crafts and Vocational Training, the Federal Institute for Vocational Training and International Marketing for Vocational Education.


The Committee had an opportunity to conduct site observations at the vocational training institutions to observe the dual education system in practice. During the site visits the Committee had an opportunity to interact with the students who were enrolled in the dual education system.


2. Background

South Africa had a serious challenge of a high unemployment rate especially among young people between the ages of 18 – 24. It was estimated that 2.8 million young people of this age group were neither in school, training or partaking in any form of employment and, 2 million of them had no school leaving qualification. One of the reasons attributed to high unemployment among the youth was the lack of skills relevant to the labourmarket. This posed a considerable constraint on the country’s social and economic development.


Apart from exercising the overall oversight function over the Department of Higher Education and Training and its entities, the Committee had a duty to investigate and gather information and develop knowledge on international best practices. The information gathered on best practices was then summarised into recommendations which were later transferred to the Department of Higher Education and Training for implementation and intervention where necessary.


Germany was the country of choice for the Committee to visit owing to its successful dual education system. Germany is Europe’s largest economy and the third biggest economy in the world. The country is highly industrialized with specialization in auto-mobiles, mechanical engineering and mechatronics.  The essence of the quality exhibited by German products can in many ways be attributed to the skill level of its industrial workers. Their high skill levels are a direct result of the country’s apprenticeship training programmes, more commonly referred to as the dual educational system.


The dual education system of Germany is a joint responsibility of the state and industry. Education and training is conducted at the company’s learning venues and vocational school. At the time of the study tour, there were 350 occupations registered and recognised by the state with 1.6 million trainees.  Approximately 482 000 companies were providing vocational training.


3. Composition of the Delegation


3.1 The Parliamentary delegation

The multi-party delegation from the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training comprised of Adv I Malale, Chairperson (ANC); Ms N Gina (ANC); Mr S Makhubele (ANC); Mr C Moni (ANC); Ms W Nelson (ANC); Dr J Kloppers-Lourens (DA) and Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA).


Support Staff: Mr A Kabingesi: Committee Secretary and Ms M Modiba: Researcher.


3.2 Department of Higher Education and Training

Ms N Vukuza: Deputy Director-General / International Attache and Ms B Mtyingizana: Director, International Affairs.


3.3 South African Embassy

Mr M Stofile: Ambassador; Mr S Gwexe: First Secretary, Education; Mr G Mamabolo: First Secretary, Economics and Ms M Manenzhe: First Secretary, Marketing.

3.4 Deustcher Gewerkschaftsbund Bundesvortstand (DGB) / Confederation of German Trade Union

Mr H Nehls: Representative.


3.5 Siemens

Mr M Stockmann: Head of Siemens, Professional Education; Ms K Steir: International Relations and Mr H Hohn: Vice President, Siemens Government Affairs.


3.6 Bundestag / German Parliament

Ms U Burchardt: Chairperson, Committee on Education; Mr A Deyer: Committee Secretary and Ms D Schechler: Interpreter.


3.7 Humbodlt University

Dr U Hans: Head International Office and Ms U Spanamberg: International Students Advisor.


3.8 Bundesminsterium fur wirtschftliche Zusammenarbet und Entwicklung / Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development & Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit   (GIZ)

Dr K Prezyklenk: Senior Advisor; Ms J Hett: Desk Officer, South Africa; Mr T Alberts: Director, Commission for Africa and Mr M Ammosse: Intern.


3.9 Befufsfortbildungswerk (bfw)

Ms J Schultz: Assistant Manager, Labour Markets Projects and Services; Ms E Meyer: Project Manager and Ms S Becker.


3.10 Bundesministerium fur Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) / Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Mr M Hetzger: Director of the Department; Ms C Stertz: Director of Sub-Department; Mr P Weber: Director Vocational Training; Ms A Solymosi: Programme Officer and Ms N Hertz: Senior Scientific Officer.


3.10.1 Handswerkskammer Klobenz / Chamber of Skilled Crafts

Mr P Rechmann: Project Coordinator for Asia, Africa and Moldova and Mr R Muller: Engineer.


3.10.2 Bundesinstitut fur Berufsbildung (BiBB) / Federal Institute for Vocational Training and International Marketing for Vocational Training (iMove)

Prof F Esser: President; Ms M Sinthern: Public Relations Officer; Mr H Tutschner: Head Company and Individual Customer related Service Occupations; Ms M Verfuth: Advisory Service and International Cooperation; Mr F Wahl: Project Coordinator and Ms M Maykens: iMove Officer.


4. Summary of presentations


4.1 South African Embassy

Mr M Stofile, Ambassador, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The main role of the Embassy was to maintain / develop the partnership and agreements that existed between South Africa and Germany.Germany was the number one trade and political partner of South Africa within the European zone, and there were many areas of interest shared between the two countries.
  • The Embassy was also responsible for facilitating logistical arrangements of South African delegations that planned to meet with the German authorities for official purposes.
  • The Embassy also advised any South African delegation that visited Germany to submit their report of the study tour, including agreements reached to ensure that a follow up can be made.
  • The Mpumalanga delegation that visited Germany in the past had not made a follow-up with an agreement that was under service, which was a matter of concern for the Embassy, since Germany was aiming to help other countries with this agreement.
  • The Embassy warned the Committee about getting into agreements with German institutions without honouring or servicing those agreements.
  • The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr B Nzimande visited Germany in March 2010. The Minister participated in the iMoveroundtable where he highlighted the challenges of skills development faced by the country.


Mr S Gwexe, First Secretary Education, proceeded with the presentation and highlighted the following:

  • The German dual education system had been very progressive since the re-unification of the country 21 years ago. The country was by far the leading industrialised economy of Europe, specializing specifically in auto-mobiles, mechatronics and mechanical engineering.
  • Germany had 600 companies that were fully operational in South Africa making it one of their biggest trading partners.
  • The dual education system allowed students to choose their career path in primary schooling from as early an age as 10 years.. By the time students reached the age of 18 years, they would be absorbed by industries to participate in the apprenticeship programme, which is a major step to further their career. Different partners were involved in the dual system which included the state, employers and unions.
  • The Employers were responsible to fund the training programmes including providing employment for the student upon completion of their apprenticeship.


4.2 Deustcher Gewerkschaftsbund Bundesvortstand (DGB) / Confederation of German Trade Union presentation on Role of Social Partners in Vocational Education and Training

Mr H Nehls led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The DGB was a combined federal union which represented eight trade unions on various critical elements of labour or society to the government. The DGB represented 6 million workers from different sectors, with 2 million from industries, 1.2 from the public sector, 800 000 from chemical industries and the balance from other small sectors of the economy.
  • The core mandate of the DGB was to critically engage on issues of a minimum wage for all workers in various sectors, the economic crisis of the eurozone, and ecological issues.
  • The training of apprentices was conducted at the workplace and in school. However, students spent most of their time doing practical work in companies rather than in schools. There were currently 350 training occupations recognized by the state.
  • The vocational education and training system had approximately 1.6 million trainees, 39% were women, and the entire education system had 2.3 million students. There were 2 million companies in Germany, of which 402 000 (25%) provided artisan training.
  • The union’s main approach in assisting workers was to encourage them to participate in training programmes so that they could improve their qualifications and thus access the labour market. The high unemployment rate among young people in the country was owing to the fact that they were unqualified.
  • The Vocational Education and Training Act of 1969 was the main legislation which regulated the vocational education system.
  • The dual education system had three different approaches, namely, employers paid for the training programmes, trainees obtained a stipend average of 630 euros, and trainees were absorbed by the employer upon completion of their programme.
  • The normal duration of the training programme took three years to complete. After that, trainees had the choice to either work or enroll in higher education.
  • The unions played a very critical role in the development of vocational education and training. All the proposals for new training programmeswere developed in consultation with employers and unions.


4.3 Siemens

Mr M Stockmann, Head of Seimens, Professional Education, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • Siemens was established 150 years ago in a garage by Mr B von Seimens in Germany. The company had grown to be represented in more than 150 countries worldwide with more than 400 000 employees. The turnover profit of the company in 2010 was 3.9 billion euros.
  • The vocational education and training institution in Berlin was the largest training centre of Siemens. Seimens was located in 40 regions within the German boundary. The company spent 167 million euros per annum on training programmes with the majority of the programmesfocusing on the technical aspect of training.
  • The dual education system was being implemented at Siemens Professional Education institutions across Germany. The advantage of this system was that employees were highly qualified, highly productive and future oriented. There were approximately 1400 trainees located in the Berlin centre.
  • Siemens offered both practical and theoretical aspects of learning under one training centre.
  • Project and process oriented learning in exemplary trade oriented tasks included; knowledge management and networking and self dependant work-based comprehensive learning.
  • The International Education and Development Programme (IEDP) was a programme aimed at preparing potential managers of the company. Employees from other countries were transferred on a three months course in Germany to focus on networking, knowledge transfer, teambuilding and intercultural network.
  • The Siemens mechatronics system certification programme was implemented on three levels. Level 1 included assistants, Level 2 included technicians and Level 3 included highly trained professionals.
  • The examinations of the training centre were evaluated by an independent body responsible for setting norms and standards for vocational training.
  • Siemens had partnerships with South African institutions on the development of students in technical disciplines. The Nelson Mandela Secondary School Project for learners between Grades 7 and 12, and a partnership with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) on mechatronics had been established.


4.4 Bundestag / German Parliament

Ms U Burchardt’ Chairperson, Committee on Education, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The Education Committee in Germany faced similar challenges with those of the South African education system. The Organisation for Economic Commonwealth Development (OECD) report on education systems of various countries painted a negative picture of the German education system. The findings of the report confirmed that the German education system was weak and there was a high drop-out rate in secondary education.
  • The federal state offered free education until secondary schooling and higher education was being susbsidised.
  • The main challenge of the Committee was that 15% of children exited the system with no qualification. The Committee was discussing the possibility of extending primary schooling from four to six years to address this challenge.
  • The dual education system was working efficiently in the country since more than 50% of children obtained a vocational qualification.
  • The Committee was responsible for processing and passing laws to regulate the vocational education system. Legislation provided the framework for regulating trades and occupations.


4.5 Humboldt University

Dr U Hans, Head of the International Office, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The university was founded in 1810 by Mr Wilhelm von Humboldt and was Berlin’s oldest university. His idea was to create a new kind of university that guaranteed academic freedom and the freedom to research. He was an explorer and scientist and inspired the creation of the Natural Sciences.
  • The university commenced with 256 students and 52 professors in 1810. There were 29 Nobel Prize Winners who graduated from the university, including famous scholars such as Albert Einstein, Karl Marx and Hagel.
  • Currently, there were 11 faculties in the university, 36 000 students, 5000 of them came from abroad, 400 professors and the budget of the university was 2.3 million euros.
  •  The university was committed to reform and stayed clear of political influence. The university boasted the largest medical faculty in Europe and was one of Germany’s top research universities.
  • Germany had 250 universities and students were required to apply and meet certain admission requirements before they can be accepted for any programme.


4.6 Bundesminsterium fur wirtschftliche Zusammenarbet und Entwicklung / Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development & Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)


a) German Development Cooperation with Africa

Dr K Prezyklenk, Senior Advisor, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The importance of Africa for Germany and the EU had increased, among other things, owing to the dynamic geopolitical developments inAfrica in the past few years. Through the Joint Africa-EU Strategy adopted in Lisbon in 2007, Africa and the EU launched a comprehensive political initiative geared towards putting the two continents’ relations on a new partnership-based foundation, moving beyond traditional cooperation.
  • Germany was on track to meet the commitment made by the G8 countries at Gleneagles in 2005 to double aid to Africa by 2010.
  • The bilateral commitments for Africa had risen further. Whilst they totaled 420 million euros in 2004, they reached 1.2 billion euros in 2009, thus almost trebling. The commitments for 2010 were at a similarly high figure.
  • The political goal of Germany was that Africa increasingly become able to solve its own problems in a sustainable manner to harness its great potential.
  • Germany was currently using the integrated set of all its instruments for bilateral cooperation with 25 partner countries in Africa. In cooperation with partner countries, priority areas covered were good governance, rural development, sustainable economic development, health energy and education. Germany was a major donor to government projects, with funding in this area amounting to more than $200 million.
  • Germany was the largest bilateral donor in the water sector for Africa, with commitments running to some 300 million euros.
  • In future, Germany, in its development cooperation with Africa, will step up its support even further for partner countries in the areas of education, health, climate protection and rural development.


b) South African – German Development Cooperation

Ms J Hett, Desk Officer South Africa, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The skills shortage presented an obstacle to greater economic growth and the wider use of renewable energies. People with limited training, or no training at all, have little chance of finding employment in the formal sector.
  • The future “Green Skills” programme was aimed to help the skills shortage in the green economy. The new programme was made up of two components. Component 1 (vocational education and training in green skills) was aimed at introducing a green component to existing training courses and supporting the development of training programmes for new jobs for which there was a growing demand within the green economy. Component 2 was concerned with green technology within industry and the development of innovations. Some green technology measures were already being implemented.
  • A special focus was on adapting vocational training to the needs of the labour market and on supporting the Sectoral Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) in matchmaking between business and trainees.
  • Since 2001, 6.3 million employees received further training and 400 00 people had been trained in long-term courses for employment in the formal labour market.  Of these, 79% found employment within six months of completing the course. Since 2005, over 350 000 unemployed people had taken part in short training courses. Of these, 66% went on to find employment.
  • The new Green Skills programme would begin in early 2012. Under the energy programme, a pilot project for training energy auditors had been conducted. So far, 35 trainees qualified as energy auditors and most had succeeded in finding employment.


4.7 Befufsfortbildungswerk (bfw)

Ms E Meyer, Project Manager, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The bfw was one of the first institutions of continuing education in former West Germany. It was founded in 1953 by the DeustcherGewerkschafts Bund (DGB) / Confederation of German Trade Unions.
  • The key principles of bfw included, but not limited to; commitment to the fundamental concept of trade unions, protection of employees’ rights and support work councils in determining employees’ educational needs.
  • Bfw was one of the largest suppliers of job qualifications and training courses in Germany. It was a certified and accredited educational institution with approximately 2000 employees and 60 000 students.
  • Bfw focused on three areas of responsibility, namely, Vocational Training and Retraining (in collaboration with businesses), preparation for vocational training of adolescents and continuing professional training of adults, employed or unemployed.
  • In terms of vocational training, bfw cooperated with business to conduct apprenticeships for adolescents who were unable to find a company prepared to employ them.
  • In terms of vocational retraining, bfw trained adults with or without qualifications in a new profession. The institution offered theoretical training while business and companies offered practical, on-the-job training. The duration of the training was between 20 – 24 months.
  • The German federal and state governments offered grants to occupational and vocational education and training centres. These monies largely came from tax contributions paid by all employees (50%) and employers (50%). These funds had to be applied for in a highly competitive market. In order to obtain such a grant, innovative project ideas for specific areas of individuals were required.
  • The bfw was looking for interested partners to work with them, or who intended to establish a similar system of vocational training in their own countries.


4.8 Bundesministerium fur Bildung und Forschung / Federal Ministry of Education and Research


a) The Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Mr P Weber: Director Vocational Training led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • Bonn was the German capital from 1949 to 1990. A number of Ministries still had their headquarters in Bonn rather than Berlin and, the BMBF was one of them. The BMBF was headed by Prof A Schavan, Minister with four State Secretaries reporting to her. The BMBF had approximately 1000 employees of which 750 were in Bonn and 250 in Berlin.
  • The Federal Republic of Germany was made up of 16 autonomous states (Lander), each with its own constitution and responsibilities. Together, the 16 Lander made up the German Federal State (Bund).
  • The Federal Government had competing legislation authority for non-school-based vocational training, training grants, support of scientific research and university admissions and degrees.
  • The joint responsibilities shared between the Landers and Bund included funding of science and research, educational reporting and joint recommendations.
  • The aims of the “Qualification Initiative for Germany” included making education a top priority in Germany, giving every child a top priority, ensuring that everyone can acquire a school-leaving or vocational qualification and encouraging more young people to pursue university studies.
  • The Future Investment Act included extensive investment of 8.7 euros in the educational infrastructure. Current examples included early childhood education and care infrastructure, universities, municipal or non-profit continuing education institutions and research.
  • In terms of future prospects, Germany would invest 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in education and research by 2015, admitting 275 000 additional first year students to university by 2015, promoting top class university research and giving more support to major science and research organizations.


b) German – South African Year of Science 2012 / 2013

Ms N Hurtz: International Bureau of the BMBF led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The International Science Years were part of the Federal Government’s Strategy for the Internationalization of Science and Research carried out together with a strategically important partner country and, focused on research, education and innovation.
  • The examples of German International Years of Science in other developing countries included Egypt 2007, Israel 2008, China 2009, Brazil 2010 and Russia 2011.
  • The goals of the German – South African Year of Science included visualizing the existing variety of co-operations and their excellence; initiating new partnerships between research institutions, universities and companies and enhancing the institutional cooperation between Ministries, intermediary and funding organizations.
  • The target groups included decision-makers in politics, research facilities, funding organizations, educational institutions and providers, young scientists, disseminators and the general public with an interest in science.
  • The thematic areas were climate change, human capital development, bio-economy, urbanisation, astronomy, health innovation, social sciences and the humanities.
  • The launch of the German – South African Year of Science was planned for April 2012 and the closing event planned for April 2013. A joint research programme with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) would be established.


c) Dual Training at a Glance

Ms C Stertz, Director of the Sub-Department, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • Dual training was mainly provided in the company supported by teaching in part-time vocational schools (Berufsschule). Learning in the company took three to four days per week on the basis of training regulations, within the framework of a training contract, taking place mainly at the workplace.
  • The training regulations covered the following: state recognition of the occupation, designation of the occupation, duration of training, the overall training plan and examination requirements.
  • The training contract covered the following in particular: the training period, the training content, termination of employment and the allowance paid to the trainee.
  • Learning at school took between 1 - 2 days per week on average on the basis of a framework curriculum. The curriculum of part-time vocational schools included vocational subjects and general subjects, teaching followed an activity based approach in fields of learning.
  • General education was a multi-track system with different types of schools governed by Lander law. The Conference of Landers Ministers decided on common approaches, inter alia regarding recognition of types of schools, standards and final qualifications.
  • The advantages of the dual system included job specification qualification, productive performance of trainees, increased motivation and loyalty to company and secured skills needed.
  • The dual system was a successful model since the majorities of young people (60%) chose it. There were about 1.6 million trainees in approximately 340 training occupations.
  • Facts and figures: The percentage of learners with no school leaving certificate was 25%, higher education entrance qualifications 17%, intermediate school leaving certificate was 39%, and secondary generation school leaving certificate was 30%.
  • Financing of dual training was a joint initiative between companies and Lander. Companies contributed 14.7 billion euros (84%) and Lander 2.3 billion euros (16%).


4.9 Handswerkskammer Klobenz / Chamber of Skilled Crafts

Mr P Rechmann, Project Coordinator, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The Chamber of Skilled Crafts determined occupations which were part of the crafts sector. This included 151 occupations, divided into seven branches. These branches included building and interior trades; electrical and metalworking trades; woodcrafts and plastic; health and body care trade; chemical and cleaning sector; clothing, textiles and leather crafts and trades, glass, paper, ceramics, food crafts and trades.
  • The 54 Chambers of Skilled Crafts were self governing, non-profit corporations under public law with compulsory membership for each skilled craft enterprise. The Chambers represented the interests of the crafts sector in their district vis-avis political institutions, public administration and society. The Chambers also kept the crafts register and were responsible for holding examinations.
  • The Chambers were by law competent bodies with regards to vocational training. They registered all apprenticeship contracts, monitored all apprenticeships, organised examinations from apprentice to master, and appointed members of the Vocational Training Committee and Examination Boards.
  • The results of the regulation of various crafts led high quality training in all companies irrespective of size or location and offered flexibility.
  • The Master of Crafts examination was a master degree required for establishing a company in many occupations. The participants in this training were offered grants by the federal government. The minimum training offered by the Chamber was two years and short-courses were not offered.
  • The main income of the Chamber was obtained from training (financed by companies), membership fees and government grants.


4.10 Bundesinstitut fur Berufsbildung (BiBB) / Federal Institute for Vocational Training and International Marketing for Vocational Training (iMove)


a) Welcome

Prof H Esser President of BiBB, welcomed the Delegation and gave the following introductory remarks:

  • The BiBB was a national and international institution of research and development in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system that represented Germany internationally.
  • The BiBB promoted the VET system internationally especially in developing / emerging industrialised countries. The VET system was in demand due to its dual system. The demand for advisory services in the VET system had risen in developing countries in the past few years as they were using this system to improve their productivity.
  • The shortage of skilled workers was a huge challenge for developing countries and the VET system offered points of departure formodernisation of this system in partner countries.
  • Skills Development in South Africa should be aligned to economic policies of the country to reduce unemployment, especially among young people. The VET system was industry driven and, it was crucial for South Africa to compel industries to take students for vocational training.


b) The system of Continuing Education and Training and its Permeability

Mr H Tutschner, Head of Company and Individual Customer Related Service Occupations, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The BiBB worked with different stakeholders and practitioners of the VET system. The business objectives of the BiBB was providing support personnel in VET, identifying future skills, developing new methods in teaching and training, assessing the quality of distance learning and analysing structural development in the labour market.
  • The organs of the Federal Institute for the VET Board included eight members from Employer Organisations, five from government, and eight from Unions and eight from the Lander (Region / Provincial Government). The board determined the affairs of the BiBB. The BiBB was the biggest institution responsible for the VET system.
  • The Vocational Education and Training Act was introduced in 1959 and reformed in 2005. The Act regulated all training practices of the VET system.
  • The VET system presented challenges when it came to its implementation, especially in small developing countries.
  • In 2010, 10% of learners had no vocational qualification, 20% had a university degree, and 11% had a technical qualification. These results indicated that Germany faced serious challenges in its education system.
  • Approximately 50% of school leavers opted for vocational education rather than university since it provides more opportunities for employment than any other form of training in Germany.


c) BiBB International Advisory Services

Ms M Verfurth: Advisory Services and International Cooperation led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • The international advisory service of the BiBB provide advise regarding modernization of VET financing, staff development, forms of training, VET research, information and communication platforms.
  • The instruments used to promote VET system; coaching, professional consultation, workshop training, studies and monitoring and evaluation.
  • The BiBB had good cooperation with RSA. The BiBB delegation visited the country in 2010 where meetings were held with the DHET inPretoria.


d) International Marketing of Vocational Education (iMove)

Ms M Maykens, iMove Officer, led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:

  • iMove was a service agency established by Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) founded in November 2001.
  • The iMove offices were located at BiBB and the agency had a team of 13 employees.
  • iMove’s mission included the promotion of German providers of VET, facilitating international business activities and co-operation between German training providers and partners abroad.


5. Observations

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, having interacted with various institutions during its study tour, made the following observations:


5.1 Meeting with the Embassy

5.1.1 The meeting with the Embassy provided an opportunity for the Committee to be aware of the latest developments in relation to higher education and training in Germany. The meeting also provided some brief background on the different visits that had been conducted by various delegations from South Africa.

5.1.2 The meeting gave a synopsis of the Minister’s participation in the iMove roundtable in 2010 where he interrogated the German education system, focusing particularly on skills development.

5.1.3 It was agreed that the Committee would make follow-ups on the pending follow-up by the Mpumalanga Provincial Government on education agreements with the German government.


5.2 Meeting with DGB / Confederation of German Trade Union

5.2.1 It emerged that the DGB did not articulate on the critical weaknesses of the German vocational education and training system.

5.2.2 It was agreed that the Committee should benchmark the Vocational Education and Training Act with the Skills Development Act to look at best practices that may be of assistance to enhance skills development in the country.

5.2.3 It was noted that the DGB was fully involved in the development of vocational education programmes and this might serve as a model for trade unions in the country to follow suit.

5.2.4 The Committee commended the DGB’s approach in encouraging workers to obtain qualifications for their own development.

5.2.5 The German education system prioritsed artisan training more than any other training programmes.


5.3 Meeting with Siemens

5.3.1 The Siemens training centre in Berlin was similar to other training centres that were available in South Africa. However, the effective utilization of its facilities was the factor that made Siemens successful in its programme offering.

5.3.2 The management and coordination of the vocational training at the institution was very effective and, students were in touch with what was happening in the workplace.

5.3.3 The trainers at the institution were very well trained (organized lecturing system) and committed to their tasks.

5.3.4 Good measures for sustainability of the company were implemented effectively.

5.3.5 The main core area of Siemens focused on skills development to improve productivity of the company and the well being of students.

5.3.6 The company invested resources in research and development often neglected by South African companies.

5.3.7 Siemens was a multinational company that contributed to skilling people to participate in the global economy.

5.3.8 The company’s training and development policies were well coordinated which sustained the effectiveness of vocational training.

5.3.9 The apprenticeship programme had duration of 2-3 years with students receiving stipends during the duration of the programme.

5.3.10 Institutional memory of the company was sustained tremendously and this led to effective continuity.


5.4 Meeting with Humboldt University

5.4.1 The German university system differed significantly with the vocational training institutions to such an extent that students who chose vocational training had minimal chances of studying in universities.

5.4.2 The university conducted research that was based on societal needs with little or no political influence.

5.4.3 University councils consisted of university staff and no members of communities or other constituencies were allowed in the council. The councils consisted of 10 members.

5.4.4 The university had a serious drop-out rate which was a major challenge.

5.4.5 The university was considering the possibility of offering free undergraduate education where learning would be fully susbsidised by the state.

5.4.6 The university was willing to admit more international students including those coming from South Africa.

5.4.7 The German political organs respected the institutional autonomy and academic freedom of the universities because the time span of politicians was too short to enable proposed solutions to work effectively. The Committee also supported the autonomy of the universities because the political environment changed from time to time.

5.4.8 The articulation process from vocational education and training to university was in place though it was underutilised.

5.4.9 The university had partnerships with only the best performing Western Cape institutions.


5.5 Meeting with Bundesminsterium fur wirtschftliche Zusammenarbet und Entwicklung / Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development & Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

5.5.1 The Committee commended the involvement of the German government in the development programmes in South Africa.

5.5.2 The strategy of the Ministry was to build capacity of the developing nation’s skills development plans.

5.5.3 There was a need for the Committee to obtain more information on the developmental partnership with the GIZ.



5.6 Befufsfortbildungswerk (bfw)

5.6.1 The institution provided an opportunity for those with no formal schooling to obtain employment opportunities and participate in the economy.

5.6.2 The institution was committed to its vocational training to such an extent that programmes had duration of 2-3 years and trainees were assisted in obtaining employment after completion of the programme.

5.6.3 The tracer system used by the institution was effective, a factor that many training centres in South Africa lacked.

5.6.4 There was a high absorption rate in the labour market for trainees who had undergone training at bfw owing to its good relations with companies.

5.6.5 The success rate of trainees who trained at bfw was commendable.

5.6.6 Trainees were also offered social support (stipends) in addition to the vocational training in order to complete the training successfully.

5.6.7 University graduates with no employment were retrained for new programmes to enhance their chances of obtaining employment.

5.6.8 The utilisation of funding for the training programme was very effective.


5.7 Bundesministerium fur Bildung und Forschung / Federal Ministry of Education and Research

5.7.1 The Ministry acknowledged that its higher education system was not as effective as the vocational education system, owing to the fact that many young people exited the school system without university exemption.

5.7.2 The majority of learners in Germany chose the VET system since it offered more opportunities to gain employment and income while on training compared to university education.

5.7.3 The 2012 Year of Science partnership between Germany and South Africa was an opportunity for the country’s higher education institutions to improve their research and development initiatives. It was also an opportunity for industries to invest in this partnership to move towards green jobs.

5.7.4 The German government was willing to assist the South African post school education and training system through its partnership and development initiatives.


5.8 Handswerkskammer Klobenz / Chamber of Skilled Crafts

5.8.1 The training facility had a high level type of training for apprentices who met the standards required by the industry as well as the federal state.

5.8.2 The equipment at the facility included the latest technology utilized by its member industries. The machinery used to train the apprentices was mostly donated by industries (industry driven initiative).

5.8.3 In South Africa, unlike Germany, the main challenge was the lack of willingness in many companies to train and develop young people.

5.8.4 FET college lecturers would benefit being trained at this facility since it was willing to assist South Africa to improve its capacity in skills development.


5.9 Bundesinstitut fur Berufsbildung (BiBB) / Federal Institute for Vocational Training and International Marketing for Vocational Training (iMove)

5.9.1 The BiBB was an international institution of research and development in the VET system and it was also responsible for the development of the curriculum of the VET system.

5.9.2 The VET system was market driven and most of the funds for the training and development of students were contributed by companies.

5.9.3 The BiBB advised the delegation that skills development policies in South Africa should be aligned to economic policies to reduce unemployment.

5.9.4 Investment in research and development for the VET system curriculum contributed to its success.

5.9.5 The iMove was responsible for marketing the VET system internationally and its market strategy was very successful in obtaining foreign partnerships.

5.9.6 Improvement of productivity and increase in exports could be attributed to the success of the VET system.

5.9.7 Germany was the second country after China to be the largest exporter to foreign countries.


6. Site Observations

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training having conducted site observations to various training facilities noted the following key issues:


6.1 Siemens

6.1.1 The training centre offered both theory and practical learning for the trainees.

6.1.2 The majority of students in the training programme expressed their happiness with their choice of career.

6.1.3 The machinery used by students included the latest technology on the market for mechatronics.

6.1.4 Students were mostly trained by problem solving in various electronic devices produced by the company.


6.2 Handswerkskammer Klobenz / Chamber of Skilled Crafts

6.2.1 Trainees were offered theory and practicals located in the same venue, which made training easier for them.

6.2.2 The electro mechanical workshop included the latest cars donated by large car manufacturing companies such as Mercedes Benz, Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) and Volkswagen. The trainees were likely to be absorbed by those companies upon completion of exams.

6.2.3 The welding workshop was well coordinated and specifically trained young people for high level welding. A good welder in Germany could earn a higher salary than an engineer owing to the importance of their work and the large utilization of steel for the manufacturing of cars.

6.2.4 The automation workshop was responsible for training students who had an interest in air conditioning technology. Heating and cooling technology was very popular in Germany owing to its climatic conditions.

6.2.5 The Solar power laboratory was responsible for the development of green energy. Trainees were taught how to build solar power systems as well as fitting them in houses. The solar power systems had a lifespan of 25 years and were very sustainable.


7. Conclusion


The seven days international study tour to the Federal Republic of Germany was a success for the Committee. The objective of the visit was to obtain insight on the structure and development of the skills development and post schooling education system, which was achieved. The delegation visited federal institutes such as the South African Embassy, the German Parliament, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Federal Institute for Vocational Training. In terms of industries and training institutions, the delegation visited Siemens, the Chamber of Skilled Crafts, bfw, Humboldt University, and the Confederation of German Trade Unions.


The meetings with the federal institutes provided an opportunity for the delegation to strengthen the partnerships between South Africa andGermany especially in higher education and training matters. The German Year of Science 2012 which will be launched in April 2012 was one among many outstanding examples of the German Federal Government’s Strategy for the Internationalization of Science and Research carried out together with a strategically important partner country and, focused on research, education and innovation. The Committee was invited by the German government to be part of the launch of this event in April 2012. The South African – German Development will launch the new Green Skills programme in early 2012 which would assist the country in developing its Green Skills programme.


The visits to various industries and training institutions responsible for vocational training provided the delegation with an opportunity to observe the dual education system on site. The visit to Siemens, the largest telemobile company in Germany, offered an opportunity for the delegation to engage with students and observe their practical work. The majority of the students acknowledged that the VET system was a good career choice owing to its advantages. The visit to the Humboldt University, the only university visited during the study tour, gave insight into the higher education landscape of Germany. The delegation was amazed that even Germany had a similar challenge of drop out rate in universities. The proportion of students who went to the university was very low compared with students who took the VET route.


The role played by small, private training providers proved to be very effective in addressing the challenge of unemployment. The visit to the bfw, a small private training institution gave an insight into the role of small, private training institutions in skills development. The bwf operated successfully with the limited resources it possessed. Unemployed people and even those with no formal schooling were trained and assisted in obtaining employment.


8. Recommendations


The following formed part of the recommendations:


  • To eliminate the problem of mismatch between what the training institutions produce and the needs of industry / labour market, the vocational education and training curriculum should be developed in partnership with stakeholders (The Department of HET, FET Colleges, industry, regulatory bodies etc.).


  • The Department, in partnership with FET Colleges and the industry should constantly review the vocational education and trainingprogrammes for the purpose of modernization in order to make them fit for their purpose (relevant and responsive to the needs of the labourmarket / requirements of the economy).


  • The Department should consider developing assessments and standards for all vocational education and training programmes to promote the same level of quality provisions in all training institutions (including private providers, companies, and state-owned parastatals) in order to dispense with the disparities of the quality of training offered by different institutions and organizations. For example, an artisan graduate trained by Transnet should be at the same level of skills and competency with a graduate from an FET College or SETA.


  • If the goal is to produce a highly specialized and competent graduate, the Department should consider extending the duration of training inleanerships programmes so that student may obtain comprehensive training.


  • Realizing that companies are not investing in practical training as they may regard their contributions to training as paying a levy, the Department should consider passing legislation that will compel companies to be involved in training since they also benefit from a skilled and competent workforce.


  • Given that 57 percent of FET lecturers are unqualified, the Department should, as a matter of urgency, facilitate the development of a qualification for FET lecturers in partnership with South African Qualifications Authority and higher education institutions. There is also a need for the development of an in-service training programme for the lecturers who are already in the system such as the National Professional Diploma in Education (NPDE) offered to unqualified and under-qualified teachers to improve their skills and competencies.


  • The Departments of Higher Education and Basic Education should review the alternative educational paths after compulsory education (Grade 9) since the current model channels most learners into a uniform academic stream only (Matric). It only favours those who successfully complete Matric and discards those who do not. If different streams of secondary education could be introduced, for example, initial vocational education (dual system) in different fields, learners will complete their secondary education with a certificate and skills and competencies which will immediately enable them to join the labour market. This will go a long way towards eliminating the challenge of a high dropout rate and a situation whereby learners complete their matric and return to enroll in FET programmes that are lower qualifications than they have already obtained.
  • The Department should develop the Further Education and Training (FET) colleges to increase the number of artisans produced for industries. More investment in latest industrial equipment used in industries should be made accessible to learners in FET colleges.
  • Given the fact that most student who completed their theoretical training in FET colleges and Universities of Technology struggled to obtain workplace learning, the Department should consider legislation that would make it compulsory for well established companies to take students for experiential learning to address the challenge of unemployment among young people.
  • The occupational programmes offered by FET colleges should be aligned with industry needs, and there should be a strong partnership between industries and FET colleges.
  • The Department should use the opportunity offered by the Chamber of Skilled Crafts in offering South African lecturers training in highly technical machinery and equipment.
  • The Department should develop an effective and efficient tracer system to track all students in the post school education system.
  • The higher education and training institutions should consider developing programmes aimed at improving Green Skills for the economy.
  • The partnership between Humboldt University and Universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town should be expanded to include the previously disadvantaged institutions.


Report to be considered




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