Hans-Peter Schmidt, Head of the Vocational Training Department of the Chamber of Crafts in Leipzig (HWK Leipzig), explains the experiences in the project “Modernizing Vocational Training” in Vietnam. It shows how the cooperation has developed and how opportunities for follow-up projects have opened up.
How did you get in touch with Vietnam about the vocational education system? How did the project come about and what are its goals?
The Vietnamese government has been funding a project since 2015 in which 22 new dual training professions based on the German model were created. For this purpose, a consortium of German chambers and companies was formed, which is to establish this vocational training at 45 vocational training centers. For the project, Vietnamese vocational school teachers were sent to Germany for a period of five months. They were trained in vocational pedagogy and technical theory, and they were also able to expand their manual skills. All 264 teachers have successfully completed the instructor aptitude training with the instructor aptitude test and are now training at the partner schools e. g. carpenters, metal workers, toolmakers and precision mechanics. Another goal of the Vietnamese government is to upgrade vocational training. This is to be achieved by designing the training so that the skilled workers have the possibility to work abroad. For this purpose, language courses for German at A2 level are already offered during training.
What is the importance of handicrafts in Vietnam?
There are many small and medium-sized companies in Vietnam as well as German companies that are looking for well-trained specialists on site. The country is currently experiencing an economic upswing, but is unable to meet the demand for skilled workers in the craft sector, either qualitatively or quantitatively. This is due to the fact that vocational training in Vietnam has little appeal and is of little importance overall. Most young people end up in academic training. Lower-performing people often go straight to school without training and learn about the activities informally in practice. In order to better qualify skilled workers for their own country and reduce youth unemployment, the Vietnamese government has decided to introduce dual vocational training.
The quality standards of international vocational training in handicrafts are very high. How does the implementation / adjustment succeed in the conflict between German quality standards and local framework conditions? How do you go about this and what are the biggest hurdles?
On the one hand, it is difficult to enable a high proportion of practical training within the dual training: the vocational students in Vietnam only have a share of 10-15 percent of the training in the company. Most of the practical skills are learned in training workshops at vocational schools.
The language hurdles are of course also a challenge. We work here with interpreters who translate for the German and Vietnamese experts. It is crucial here that the translators have a technical understanding in order to meet the requirements for the technical language of the professions.
What interests does your chamber have in this collaboration? What are the benefits of this?
For member companies in Germany, the possibility of securing or immigrating skilled workers plays a central role. Vietnamese professionals are very welcome. The graduates of the professions officially recognized in Vietnam can go through a recognition process in Germany. Since the training regulations were developed according to the German model, it is likely that no adaptation qualifications will be necessary. With this project, we as a chamber can therefore make an important contribution to securing skilled workers in Germany.
However, since the success in securing skilled workers cannot be quantified and only arises in the long term, it is important for us that the project part of the HWK Leipzig is 100 percent financed by the Vietnamese government. We work here to cover costs.
What experience have you had in the project with the SCIVET instruments?
The SCIVET manual is a very good guide that is actively used in the project. With the help of the SCIVET instruments, we can compare the target and actual status at any time.
How could the current project develop further and how could the cooperation be designed in the future?
We already have concrete plans for the next few years: At the beginning of the training in October 2019, the consortium sent one of its experts to each school to accompany the training process on site. In addition, we maintain a constant exchange with our partners via Internet. In addition, the Vietnamese government commissioned us to set up an adequate examination system similar to the German one in parallel with the training and to create the legal framework. A vocational training committee is appointed through the Vietnamese Ministry of Education, which then installs the examination committees. An experienced German auditor is appointed to each of these committees.
What are the main results of the project so far?
In cooperation with all the players, we have succeeded in creating 22 selected dual training professions that are recognized by the state of Vietnam and in carrying out further training for vocational school teachers with a subsequent aptitude test. Since autumn 2019, 2500 young people have been trained in 66 vocational school classes based on our work.
It is most relevant that the importance of carrying out professional training in the company is emphasized once again. In order to provide the trainees with targeted support in operational practice, they are accompanied by vocational school teachers in the company.
How open is your chamber to similar projects?
We have had an extremely positive experience with the project in Vietnam. The duration of the current project is now planned until 2024, so that the training can go through completely once and then be evaluated. The Vietnamese government has already signaled that the project is to be continued and that further professions are to be implemented. In addition, we have had very good experiences in long-term cooperation with Mongolia and Russia.
We are very open to further projects. The prerequisite is that the necessary capacities are available in our chamber and that we can work to cover costs.