Press Service of the German Parliament

In the following we reprint the announcement "heute im Bundestag No. 024 - Presse Service of the German Parliament", Committee for Education, Research and Implications of Technology (Hearing), Berlin, concerning the importance of Continuing Education.

Continuing Education to be Given Greater Weight and to be Closer to Practice

Vocational continuing education provision must be better matched to people's needs. In order to motivate even those disinclined to take up further training, and to make the need for continuing learning after leaving school apparent to all, continuing education and training have to become an integral part of life. This was the unanimous view of the experts at the public hearing of the Committee for Education, Research and Implications of Technology on the theme of "Lifelong Learning - Need and Funding" on Monday. School drop-outs and others with low skill levels have to be motivated in ways not previously adopted. Professor Gerhard Bosch of the Gesamthochschule Duisburg said that those who were starting from a poor position needed to be "actively convinced at the work place". Traditional counselling was of no further use in their case. "We have to get right away from the notion of school and to offer learning as part of the work process," agreed Professor Friedrich Hubert Esser, head of the Vocational Continuing Education and Training Department of the Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks (the Central Association of German Craft Trades). Under examination conditions, there was often a lack of self-confidence. In his professional field, it was also important that master craftspeople had good prior training, since they would then encourage their apprentices to learn. Professor Dieter Timmermann, Chair of the former Committee of Experts on "Funding Lifelong Learning", highlighted the positive international example of Sweden, where vocational continuing education and training formed part of "a system of learning". If continuing education and training were to be structured as a fourth pillar separate from formal education and apprenticeship, this might be counter-productive. In Sweden, employees could be released from the work place and received some financial support from the state if they wished to attend courses. On the other hand, Stephanie Odenwald of the trade union Erziehung und Wissenschaft (Education and Science) thought it made sense for lifelong learning to be a fourth pillar of the education system. Continuing education needed to be tied in to the public sector in exactly the same way as school education. Central government therefore needed to provide a legislative framework and funding arrangements. Ulrich Aengenvoort, Director of the German Adult Education Association, pointed out that it was not only lack of motivation that lay behind inadequate further training, but also lack of money on the part of the providers. The Volkshochschulen (community adult education centres) had moved away from "only offering off-the-peg provision" and were now cooperating with employers and responding to the specific needs of their employees.