German-Greek debate on vocational education and training reform

The German-Greek collaboration in vocational education and training has a "solid foundation" and is conducted "on equal terms for the benefit of both countries".

This announcement was made by Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research during a digital event run by the German-Greek Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DGIHK) and the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV).

Rachel also recalled that the bilateral cooperation originated against the backdrop of the economic and financial crisis in December 2012. Following years of success, the cooperation is now set to be further strengthened. He added that he was "very impressed" as regards a legislative initiative on the part of the Greek government which includes the reform of vocational education and training.

"Creating order from the chaos"

"Sometimes the most important reform is to create order from the chaos." This was how Georgios Voutsinos, Greek General Secretary for Vocational Education and Training and Lifelong Learning described his ministry's draft bill which would be submitted to parliament for consultation "very soon". For the politicians, the relative unattractiveness and low levels of recognition in society of company-based training have been a long-standing problem in Greece, he explained, adding that there was a lack of coordination and joint planning.

"Employment tool for many"

A forecast for 2030 predicts that around two-thirds of jobs in Greece will require lower or intermediate level qualifications, explains Voutsinos. With the new legislation, the aim is to turn vocational education and training from a "stopgap for the few" into to a "conscious decision and employment tool for the many", emphasised the General Secretary. The goal, he added, is also to stimulate the economy and to reduce youth unemployment.

"Faster rate of change"

SEV Director Alexandros Chatzopoulos also commented. In Greece there is an industrial transformation, "a rapid rate of change", he identified. He explained that this was in part connected with the ongoing pandemic and was influencing both the overall economy as well as occupational profiles. The director stressed that the area of education and training is at the "heart" of these developments.

Chatzopoulos was critical of the fact that only 20 percent of young people in Greece would currently opt for company-based training and that employment of graduates from vocational schools was very low compared to the European average. In this respect, Greece comes in last place throughout Europe with the rate of just 63 percent, he added. He continued to explain that many companies have not been able to meet their requirements and that there were numerous vacancies, and that one in three companies faces difficulties in this regard. "We must develop a strategy," says Chatzopoulos. "There must be a link between businesses and the educational system".

German model of dual training

Spyros Protopsaltis, Chairman of the Greek Labour Employment Office (OAED), added to the discussion, saying that the German model of the dual system is very successful. We must not "reinvent the wheel", but instead we must adapt tried-and-tested practices from other countries to Greece. He also called for the issue of vocational training to be more clearly communicated and, in the process, for the opportunities that might arise for both for economy and for businesses to be highlighted.

Source: (German website on news from Greece), revised by iMOVE, February 2021