The world of work is rapidly changing. Digitalisation, globalisation, and demographic change are having a profound impact on the type and quality of jobs available and the skills required to perform them. The extent to which individuals, companies and whole economies can reap the benefits of these changes will depend on the readiness of adult learning systems to help people develop and maintain relevant skills over their working careers.

To explore this issue, the OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs is carrying out an ambitious programme of work on the functioning, effectiveness and resilience of adult learning systems across countries. This includes the creation of the Priorities for Adult Learning (PAL) dashboard, which compares the readiness of each country’s adult learning system to address future skills challenges, as well as a cross-country report highlighting relevant policy examples from OECD and emerging countries (Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning Systems). The Directorate is also carrying out a series of in-depth country reviews of adult learning systems to offer a comprehensive analysis of the key areas where policy action is required.

This report on Continuing Education and Training in Germany assesses the effectiveness of Germany’s continuing education and training (CET) system in preparing people and enterprises for changes in the world of work driven by digitalisation and other megatrends. It also puts forward recommendations as to what changes are necessary to make the CET system more future-ready.

The authors of this report are Anja Meierkord (project lead), Karolin Killmeier and Magdalena Burtscher from the Skills and Employability Division of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs. The work was carried out under the supervision of Glenda Quintini (Skills Team Manager) and Mark Keese (Head of the Skills and Employability Division). It benefited from helpful comments by Stefano Scarpetta (Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs), members of the Skills Team (Julie Lassébie, Luca Marcolin, Katherine Mullock, Stefano Piano, Annelore Verhagen), and the VET and Adult Learning Team in the OECD Centre for Skills (Pauline Musset, Simon Normandeau, Marieke Vandeweyer).

The report profited greatly from discussions with German experts, officials, employer federations, trade unions, chambers, academics and education and training institutions during a virtual mission to Germany which took place between April and June 2020. It also benefited from the insights of participants in a validation workshop organised virtually in December 2020, and from written comments on an earlier draft of this report. Special thanks are given to Michael Schulze and Marie Ullmann (Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs), Stefan Angermüller and Katharina Kloke (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) and Michael Dörsam (Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Research) for their support in organising this research in the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report is published under the responsibility of the Secretary General of the OECD, with the financial assistance from the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The views expressed in this report should not be taken to reflect the official position of OECD member countries.

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