Record number of vacant apprentice positions

The number of vacant apprentice positions in Germany continued to rise this year and reached a new record level. This is one conclusion of an analysis on the 2021 training market carried out by the BIBB Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training. In 2021, 63,200 apprentice positions remained vacant, 5,4 % more than in 2020. The number has been rising continuously for several years.

Compared with the previous year, demand of young people for dual vocational training decreased by 0,9 % to 540,900. This is the lowest level since 1992, the first year with data for reunified Germany available.

According to BIBB President Friedrich Hubert Esser, insecurity caused by the corona pandemic has been very high both among young people and businesses providing vocational training. He expressed great concern that the interest of youths and young adults in vocational education might further decrease. “Where we lack apprentices today, we will lack skilled workers tomorrow.”

Source: BIBB

New Sino-German Dual Vocational Education Alliance

On 21 October 2017, organisations and enterprises of vocational education formally established a “Sino-German Alliance on Dual Vocational Education” in Nanjing. Different from already existing bilateral VET associations, the new alliance will, according to its Chinese name, focus on the cooperation between enterprises and schools, and thus focus on truly “dual” vocational education.

The alliance was founded at the “International Summit for Vocational Education”, which was part of Education Plus 2017, an exhibition organized by Messe Stuttgart Nanjing Ltd. During the constituting session, founding members adopted by-laws and unanimously elected their chairman, Simon Zhao, CEO of National Center for Open  & Distance Education in Beijing.

Mark Ma, Vice General Manager of Open Education, referred to a 2016 study which estimated the vocational education market volume of China at 600 billion RMB (about 78 billion Euro) and further growing.  “In this market, the new alliance aims at developing the cooperation of enterprises and schools in vocational education, supporting the implementation of the Sino-German vocational education strategy, and establishing a new and sustainable type of cooperation.”

The new alliance is a branch organisation of the “China External Cooperative Alliance of Vocational  Education” in Beijing.


Panjin Deans Visit Swiss VET Institute

A group of deans of the Panjin Vocational and Technical College (PVTC) under its vice principal Zhang Hongfu visited the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) in Zollikofen near Bern on 7 July 2017. The event was part of a Sino-German Project on Dual Vocational Education in Panjin. Project Team Leader Zhang Yaowen also joined the visit at SFIVET.

The delegation was received by Eric Swars, Head of International Relations. He provided insights into the dual VET system of Switzerland and its differences to the German dual system, into the education of TVET teachers and masters, and into TVET research and vocational development, tasks his institution is in charge of. In May 2017, SFIVET already established a partnership with the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE).

Panjin is a chemical and petroleum industry city in Northeast China. The Chinese government is encouraging the entire region to modify its economy. Panjin was selected by the National Development and Reform Commission as a pilot city for the introduction of a dual VET system similar to the German and Swiss systems. PVTC is at the core of the pilot project, initially focusing on the vocations of Chemical Technician, Mechatronics Fitter, and Geriatric Nurse.


Open Education Delegation

A delegation of the Chinese National Center for Open and Distance Education visited the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (Dual University DHBW) in Stuttgart on 28 June 2017. The group was received by Prof. Harald Stuhler, head of vehicle systems engineering studies at DHBW.

With 3.5 million registered students, the National Center for Open and Distance Education is one of the largest education institutions worldwide. It is specialized on online education and is cooperating with all notable universities of China. The Center is a joint venture of the electronics giant TCL with the Chinese Ministry of Education. The Center has recently started to establish a vocational education programme similar to the German dual system through its subsidiary I-Vocedu.

Simon Zhao, CEO of Open Education, headed the delegation. Other members were Wu Shujun, Director of the Vocational Education Center, Mark Ma, Vice General Manager, and Tina Jin, Vice President of Shenzhen TCL Education Technology Co., Ltd.

The visit to Germany was organized by the former China Project Director of BMW AG, Kayjay Brix, who is now advisor of I-Vocedu in Shenzhen. Further participants were Oliver Schindler, CEO of ITW Schindler GmbH, and the former Programme Director of GIZ in China, Helmut Schoenleber.

Building a Strong Platform

China Daily Editor’s note

As a German federally-owned enterprise, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a global service provider in international cooperation and professional training for sustainable development. GIZ operates in 130 countries with 17,000 staff members worldwide and provides policy advice, knowledge transfer, capacity building and organisational development support in areas where German know-how is world-leading.

GIZ has more than three decades of experience in cooperation with China, and 28 years with Northeast China. What changes happened in Shenyang over the past decades? What are the main achievements of the cooperation between Germany and Shenyang? Helmut Schönleber, Programme Director of GIZ, shares his views with China Daily.

Q: What role does GIZ play in promoting the cooperation between Germany and Shenyang? What are the main achievements?

Commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development, GIZ launched projects in China since 1982. We began our first project in Northeast China in 1986, a Training Centre for Welding in Harbin. Just a few years later, we started to support the Liaoning Vocational and Technical Education Research Centre in Shenyang, and implemented our regional projects from our Shenyang Office ever since.

In the Liaoning Employment Promotion and Training Programme, we worked together with our Chinese partners on improving the labour market structure, supported highly skilled talent training, provided training for business start-ups, and initiated a Public-Private Cooperation Project between BMW-Brilliance and vocational schools in Shenyang. In total, we held more than 60 symposiums and trainings with over 2,500 participants.

In 2011, we started to cooperate with Development and Reform Commissions in a programme to support the new State Council strategy on integration and coordination of economic development in the Northeast. The programme achieved a good improvement in cooperation between provincial stakeholders, and contributed to an impulse on German business contacts with Northeast China.

In our projects, we arranged many mutual visits of German and Shenyang officials, experts, and entrepreneurs to build new partnerships. Germany established a Consulate General in Shenyang, and German Lufthansa Airlines connected Frankfurt and Shenyang with a non-stop flight, starting in 2012.

Q: Why are German enterprises interested in investing in Shenyang?

Germany and Northeast China are similar in climate and in the character and business habits of our people, such as seeking excellence in profession. More and more Germans know about the economic development of the Shenyang Metropolitan Area as a hub to reach all of Northeast Asia. When we did research for our “China Liaoning Business Guide”, we even found out that Liaoning was the fastest growing sub-national region in the world, far ahead of Ile-de-France, Greater London, California, Tokyo-to or Bavaria. Both the matching character of people and the amazing growth opportunities are important for attracting German enterprises.

The cooperation between Germany and Shenyang initially focused on big enterprises such as BMW and Brilliance, but the centre of attention is now shifting to small and medium enterprises. They are concerned with demand and supply, the location of customers and competitors, and the political environment when selecting their location for investment.

Q: What factors will German investors consider if they want to invest in Shenyang?

Aside from industry-specific key factors, German companies consider investing here due to the national Shenyang Metro development plan and the preferential policies expected to be applied. Compared to other locations, the Shenyang workforce has a higher level of professional training, but there is still much room for improvement. The city and the provincial government seem to pay attention to provide quality human resources for foreign enterprises.

Q: What’s your suggestion for companies in Shenyang on attracting German partners?

Firstly, German enterprises like to cooperate with foreign partners in the same field of operations. So, Shenyang enterprises should get to know German enterprises in their specific market niche.

Secondly, German companies like partners who apply a similar work attitude as they do. They like precision, specialization, efficiency, reliability, honesty, and openness. Shenyang enterprises with those characteristics will more easily succeed in finding German partners.

It is one of the objectives in our Northeast Programme to promote economic cooperation between enterprises of our two countries. Within our project, over 200 north-eastern enterprises will build cooperation with Germany. We will provide entrepreneurs of Shenyang the opportunity to meet German entrepreneurs. It will be up to them to turn these opportunities into successful cooperation.

Q: In your opinion, what needs to be improved in Shenyang?

Foreign enterprises need foreign people. I suggest Shenyang to pay more attention to providing proper services for these people, such as more international schools for their children, international food and entertainment, and convenient public transportation. Foreigners and Chinese alike also love clean air, so try to improve air quality.

Foreign enterprises also need a strong vocational training system trimmed to their specific needs. German enterprises consider their long-term development more than others, so they require the availability of talents they need in 10 or 20 years.

Shenyang has been looking at the experience of the German Ruhr Area, and adopted some of the lessons learnt. I think there is still much more to be exchanged. Why not intensify the twinning between Shenyang and Düsseldorf and between Liaoning and Baden-Württemberg? We at GIZ will be happy to assist in all these endeavours.

The Shenyoungsters

I like to call the people of Shenyang “Shenyoungsters”. First, they are young compared with the people of European cities, statistically ten years younger than the average age of Germany. You will notice this when you go shopping at one of the malls or pedestrian zones of Shenyang: smiling at you will be mostly tall and pretty girls in their twenties (or at least looking as such) and smart trim young men. Second, their city has been going through an amazing rejuvenation since I first visited in 1985.

In 1985, I was a postgraduate scholarship student at Renmin University of China in Beijing, researching management reforms in the shipbuilding industry of China. The Dean of Economic History, Professor Sun Jian, guided me during an excursion to major shipyards, and our last stop was Dalian Shipyard in Liaoning province, the yard that built the largest ships of China.

At a time when men and women alike were wearing a blue or green Mao suit, when streets were jammed not with cars but with bicycles, when people addressed each other “comrade”, Dalian was a buzzing and relatively westernized city with business and modernization in the air. We interviewed Director Wang Youwei who had massively expanded the Shipyard and actually spoke some German. Afterwards, we took a train from Dalian back to Beijing, with a one-night stopover in Shenyang.

I expected Shenyang to be even more modern and globalized than Dalian, because Dalian was just a so-called “open” port city in Liaoning, while Shenyang was the provincial capital and seat of the government. But on my first visit, Shenyang disappointed me very much. My first impression of Shenyang was that of a huge village in the middle of early industrialization. Even the faces of people seemed dusty. At the time, I saw no reason to ever come back.

And I didn’t, for eleven years. In 1996, I was appointed coordinator of a Sino-German project to support chambers of industry and commerce. We considered the Liaoning chamber to be one of our key partners, main reason for my second visit to Shenyang. Now this Shenyang was quite different from the one of a decade before! There were international hotels, pubs with German beer, many entrepreneurs full of vigour and eager to cooperate with Europe. I met some wonderful people, such as Li Yingzhang of the provincial chamber, descendant of a “capitalist family” whose father had donated the family wealth to the Party in the early 1950s, or Yang Guanxing with a similar background, Chairman of the chamber today. People in general were friendly, especially to Germans, and not as intrusive as elsewhere. Many of my best friends in Shenyang today are friends I met at that time.

In the later 1990s and 2000s, I visited Shenyang many times and witnessed her progress. I moved to live there in 2008, to head the GIZ Shenyang Office and the GIZ LEPT Programme. A year later, Shenyang expanded the airport freeway to eight lanes and became host of “Germany and China – Together in Motion” with some of the high-level events arranged by GIZ. Shenyang built her first subway line, which was opened on the same day Governor Chen Zhenggao honoured me and some other foreign experts with the Liaoning Friendship Award. Shenyang opened a new, large international airport and hosted the National Athletic Games. I had to move back to Beijing, but still consider Shenyang my second home after Germany. My Shenyoungster friends, young or old, are the ones I can trust, rely upon, and both have fun and do serious business with.

Helmut Schönleber

Afghanistan Chamber Elections

Private Sector to Elect Provincial and National Leadership

ACCI CEO Mohammad Qurban Haqjo

ACCI CEO Mohammad Qurban Haqjo

The new Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) is preparing the largest ever business community elections in the country. Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, CEO of the national chamber, explained in a meeting on June 6, 2008, that all registered members in 21 provinces will be invited to vote for their delegates to the national ACCI High Council in July, 2008. Voters include members of the former Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI), the former Afghan International Chamber of Commerce (AICC), and a large number of business people who were previously not affiliated with either chamber. The former chambers had decided in a March 2008 Joint Assembly to merge both organizations and hold elections as soon as possible.

Fraidoon Watanyar

Fraidoon Watanyar

The national and all provincial chambers of commerce are currently validating their membership lists and accepting new membership applications. Voter lists are being prepared. According to ACCI Membership Director Fraidoon Watanyar, more than 10,000 voters were already registered by June 6, 2008. At the current rate of membership applications and verification, about 12,000 members are expected to cast their votes in July and elect more than 120 delegates for the national High Council. The High Council will then convene in Kabul in August to elect the new Board of Directors of ACCI.



Key objective of the merger and the elections is the creation of an ACCI High Council that is accepted and supported by a strong majority of the Afghan business community as their leading representative organ, and that is also able to build opinions and make majority decisions internally, to then unanimously advocate these decisions externally.

The ACCI Board of Directors has established an election schedule for the economically active provinces, as well as procedures for the nomination of candidates and the actual voting. Nomination and elections will be free, fair, and transparent. The event will be a unique opportunity to introduce democratic procedures many members are not yet familiar with.

BMO Workshops in Laos

Income Generation of Chambers and Business Associations

Vientiane Workshop

Vientiane Workshop

The Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and (UNIDO) held two workshops on income generation of business membership organizations (BMOs) from April 25 through May 2, 2008. The workshops in the capital Vientiane and in Northern Laos’ Oudomxay Province were part of a training series on chamber and association management within the joint UNIDO-UNDP project “Promoting Private Sector Development Through Strengthening of Lao Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Business Associations” in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

The LNCCI Board of Directors met in Oudomxay for an internal meeting before opening the first workshop on April 25. President Kissana Vongsay, Vice Presidents Onesy Boutsivongsad, Dr. Sananh Chounlamany, Chantao Pathammavong, Sisanouk Sisombat, Southone Sirisack, Oudet Souvannavong, and Secretary General Khanthavong Dalavong participated in the discussion of income generation potential and new strategies of LNCCI, provincial CCIs, and the other BMOs. Deputy Secretary General Sengdavone Bangolesengdet explained the principles of decision-making and political advocacy of the business community within a strong and united BMO system. CIM Expert Dr. Ramon Bruesseler presented a status report on LNCCI strategy development in 2008. UNIDO Expert Helmut Schoenleber provided background information on international best practice in demand-oriented services for members, the structure of fair membership and service fees, and the optimization of other income.

Oudomxay province had been selected for this first workshop of the series, because the provincial Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of the youngest in the country and urgently needs support in capacity building and management. The provincial government underlined its strong interest in the new chamber: Oudomxay Governor Bounphone Buttanavong and Vice Governor Somsy Saybounhuang joined the group after the workshop and promised their continued support for the business community and its chamber.

Leaders and financial managers of LNCCI, five provincial chambers, and seven national business associations participated in the second workshop in Vientiane from April 28 through May 2. Trainers in this workshop were LNCCI Deputy Secretary General Sengdavone Bangolesengdet, accounting and auditing consultant Phonexay Sanasin, and UNIDO’s expert on business membership organizations, Helmut Schoenleber.