Modern laboratory occupations in the digital age

Three new training regulations for chemical, biological, and paint laboratory technicians.

Digitalisation is also progressing in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Following the updating of the chemical technician training occupation, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) has worked together with the relevant federal ministries as well as social partners and experts from company practice to revise the "Regulation governing vocational education training in the chemical, biological, and paint laboratory work" on behalf of the federal government. This comprises the three laboratory occupations of biological laboratory technician, chemical laboratory technician and paint laboratory technician. The new regulations enter into force on 1 August 2020.

The most important changes are two elective qualifications specifically focused on developing digital competencies: "Digitalisation in research, development, analytics and production" and "Working with networks and automated systems". The new elective qualification "Digitalisation in research, development, analytics and production" brings together, for example, all competencies necessary for working in a digital laboratory environment. This ranges from working in virtual teams and carrying out simulations, via recording, checking and evaluating data, through to compliance with legal and operational requirements for the protection and security of digital data. 

The new elective qualification "Working with networks and automated systems" is concerned with setting up, testing and optimising laboratory management and laboratory information systems, and working with these digital technologies. This also includes recognising faults and introducing measures to remedy these.

Digital elective qualifications represent new options in particular for training companies which have already made progress in the digitalisation of work environments and want to enable their trainees to choose a relevant area of specialism. The minimum requirements of the laboratory technician training have not been increased as a result of the amending regulation. The well-established structure of the training regulations has also been maintained.

In 2019, a total of 2,277 new training contracts were concluded in the three training occupations and, of these, the majority by far (73 per cent) were for chemical laboratory technician. Following the training there is the opportunity to complete upgrading training, for example as a chemical industrial foreman.

The training regulations which have now been updated and the framework curriculum aligned with these which has been developed by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs for the school-based part of the dual training, enter into force on 1 August 2020.

Source: press release of the German Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, revised by iMOVE, September 2020