Continuing Education and Training in Germany

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Germany has a strong skill development system. The country’s 15‑year‑old students performed above the OECD average in the last (2018) edition of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), continuing a trend of significant improvement since PISA’s first edition in 2000. Its adult population also has above‑average literacy and numeracy skills, according to the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). A strong and well-respected vocational education and training system is seen as one of the success factors behind these achievements. However, participation in learning beyond initial education lags behind other high-performing OECD countries and varies considerably across different groups of the population. This is problematic in a rapidly changing labour market, where participation in continuing education and training is a precondition for individuals, enterprises and economies to harness the benefits of these changes. This report assesses the current state of the German continuing education and training (CET) system. It examines how effectively and efficiently the system prepares people and enterprises for the changes occurring in the world of work, and identifies what changes are necessary to make the CET system more future ready. The report makes recommendations for the further development of the CET system based on international good practice.


The changing skill needs of the German labour market

Following a decade of robust economic and employment growth, the COVID‑19 crisis has led to economic disruption in Germany. Already prior to the crisis, the nature of work had been changing due to digitalisation, population ageing and the transition to a low-carbon economy. These changes will likely accelerate in the context of the COVID‑19 fallout. To ensure that Germany’s past strong social and economic outcomes persist in the future, policy makers must ensure a future‑ready continuing education and training system that allows individuals and enterprises to adapt to these changes. This chapter discusses i) how the skill demand of the labour market is changing and the resulting skill imbalances; ii) the skill profile of the German population; and iii) current patterns of participation in continuing education and training.


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