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Learning for Life

Training on the job

Working conditions in industrialized nations have been undergoing profound change for some time now. These changes present Germany - both as a business location and as a welfare state - with the difficult task of combining economic growth with a high rate of employment, while simultaneously maintaining social cohesion. As a country with limited natural resources, Germany must foster and utilize each individual's employment potential. That this is not happening to a satisfactory degree in today's slow economy gives cause for concern. While young people are not well integrated into education and work environments, older people are dropping out of the workforce before their time. Reversing these trends must rank as society's top priority in the years ahead.

Focus Areas

Vocational Training: Opportunities for Everyone

Vocational training in Germany has always been a major factor in providing the economy skilled labor while integrating young people into professional life. Ensuring equal opportunity for German youth requires flexibility in the routes to qualification provided by the regular system. The "Vocational Training: Opportunities for Everyone" project focuses on three pillars of activity: First, the project is building a cooperation network of key vocational training stakeholders in Germany to design a reform plan that would render the current system more flexible. Second, in the works is a report that explores the extent to which vocational training in Germany provides equal opportunity and supplies the economy with skilled labor. Third, the project is building a network of international cooperation partners in fostering dual vocational training systems abroad.

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Systematic School-to-Work Transitions

Having completed their schooling, hundreds of thousands of young people in Germany find themselves stalled in what is known as the “transition system,” since not enough regular career-training slots can be found for them. The designation “transition system” is a misnomer in a dual sense: On the one hand, its patchwork of individual programs rarely leads to an actual transition from school to work and, on the other, it is anything but systematic. The Bertelsmann Stiftung remains dedicated to addressing this challenge. With its Initiative for Systematic School-Work Transitions, it is promoting reforms designed to reduce the profusion of transitional measures and working to increase opportunities for young people as they move into professional careers.  

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Youth and Work

As we move into the information age of the 21st century, developing and maintaining employability has become more crucial than ever. Every individual must exercise greater initiative and assume more responsibility for career planning. What is more, fostering individual employability at an early age has become a major challenge for both business and society.

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Continuing Education for All

According to the most recent estimates, Germany will by the year 2025 face a shortage of qualified skilled labor on the order of 1.8 million. In order to redress this shortage and promote social participation through gainful employment for everyone, new approaches are needed in broadening access to continuing education and the opportunities it provides. A continuing education system of the future must be able to address and adapt to the needs of the disadvantaged, including low-skilled laborers, immigrants and the atypically employed. At the same time, any future system must also be capable of dismantling the barriers to participation, such as low motivation levels, a lack of guidance and the failure to recognize achieved learning outcomes. The continuing education initiative is developing and testing the pillars of a system suited to future needs. The first involves adaptive forms of learning that are practical in nature and adaptable to individual learning styles as well as changing life circumstances. The second pillar foresees localized education and training guidance that is tailored to the individual and delivers useful information about qualification options. The third pillar advocates the formal recognition of competences gained through informal learning and experience.

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Learning - Throughout Life

Germany’s workforce is growing older and getting smaller -- a trend that is not irreversible. At the same time, the fewer people active in tomorrow’s working world will face major challenges. To respond to them, we must ensure the potential that each person has to offer is identified in a more effective manner, while being promoted and utilized throughout each phase of life. Only if we take a holistic attitude toward learning and professional education will it be possible to increase the quality of society’s human capital as well as its output, thus promoting prosperity and personal satisfaction.

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Networks Promoting Employment

Employment issues are no longer solved by individual actors on the labor market; instead, employment networks allow all key actors to play a role. These include companies, chambers of commerce, politicians, trade unions, associations, institutes of higher education and government agencies - essentially anyone with a contribution to make to resolving the labor market’s current problems. By facilitating an interplay of all actors, networks bring new momentum to finding employment solutions.

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Related Projects


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