Organisations active in international vocational training

The German system of dual vocational training is unique. State, business and social partners work in close cooperation to continually improve this training model, geared to the real needs of the economy. This enables it to make a significant contribution to guaranteeing that the need for skilled workers can be met and thus to securing Germany's high level of competitiveness and productivity. Work-based learning ensures that both vocational and social skills are developed from day one. The following prominent organisations are active in this field offer a broad range of specialised expertise and services.

The German Office for International Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training (GOVET)

Enlarge image The German Office for International Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training (GOVET) at the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB) acts on behalf of the Federal Government to coordinate the involvement of German stakeholders in vocational education and training cooperation abroad. For national and international stakeholders, this office is the central point of contact for VET cooperation. GOVET is an essential component of the Federal Government’s strategy on the establishment of a one-stop shop for international vocational education and training cooperation. Initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) this strategy was eventually adopted by the Federal Cabinet in July 2013. It provides specialist support on behalf of the Federal Government in international VET cooperation and creates transparency both within Germany and abroad by serving as a platform for the exchange of information. GOVET also acts as the administrative arm for the Round Table which pools the expertise of all German stakeholders in international vocational education and training.


  • Acts as the administrative arm of the Round Table for involved stakeholders
  • For national and international stakeholders, GOVET is the central point of contact for VET cooperation
  • Implements an internal and external knowledge management system
  • Undertakes the establishment, coordination, technical design and evaluation of the BMBF’s bilateral VET cooperation
  • Defines, designs and supports networking and cooperation projects

Structures and services

  • Governance of VET
  • Work-based learning
  • VET standards
  • Qualification of VET personnel
  • Institutionalised vocational education and training research

More about the GOVET


Enlarge image An initiative run at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB1) iMOVE (International Marketing of Vocational Education) was set up in 2001 by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). iMOVE’s central tasks are to promote international cooperation and to help set up collaborative projects and business relationships in initial and continuing VET. iMOVE monitors and analyses international markets in relation to vocational training and furthermore networks between German service providers and people abroad who are looking for training.


iMOVE’s goal is to make Germany’s providers of initial and continuing VET, and the services they offer, internationally competitive and to raise their profile in the international market for continuing education.

Structures and services

  • Conducting seminars on particular countries, workshops and networking events for German VET providers who wish to strategically plan their operations abroad and learn about attractive markets in a targeted manner
  • Organising trips to target countries for delegations and representation of the Training –Made in Germany label at trade fairs abroad
  • Running an internet portal in seven languages, where German service providers can find constantly up-dated information about exporting education and be included in a pool, and where international users have access to a matchmaking facility to help them find suitable service providers
  • Producing regular publications which cover data, strategies, market research, guidelines on exporting initial and continuing VET, trends in that export sector, studies into the economic significance of Germany’s exports in the field of education and training, brochures profiling successful examples of German service providers in the international markets, the iMOVE annual report etc.

iMOVE in South Africa

South Africa is struggling with the limited capacities of its water and waste water sector, which has a negative impact on the environment, public healt and economic progress.

To address the these challenges the South African government plans to invest at least three billion Euro fo the development of the water infrastructure until 2018. Additionally to this monetary investments South Africa also has an urgent need for 1.400 technical plant managers, 3.000 engineers and 4.000 technicians to put the investments to a good use.

In order to assist South Africa in improving its water capacities the “Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit” (GIZ) started a development partnership with the long term member of the iMove network Festo Didactic in 2011. They initiated a project to provide staff of water and waste water treatment plants with practical skills for professionally handling the water process.

To this end, Festo Didactic and the Institute for Sanitary Engineering, Water Quality and Solid Waste Management at the University of Stuttgart developed training material and a simulator for practical training in the water sector – the EDS (Environmental Discovery System) Water Management. Together with the University of Pretoria (UP) and the Water Academy in Knysna (TWA) the training modules were adapted to the requirements of the different target groups: University students, trainees and staff in water and waste water treatment plants. The TWA has adopted the EDS as part of a 50-day training programme for unemployed young people. 117 participants were trained for working in the water sector. The UP has integrated the practical training modules into the syllabus of academic studies.

More about iMOVE

The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB)

Enlarge image The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) is nationally and internationally recognised as a centre of excellence for research into and further development of initial and continuing training. In its research and development work and its advisory activities, the BIBB helps to provide individuals with qualifications of lasting value for their economic security and employability, and to guarantee the international competitiveness of German business and industry. Scientific research serves to help achieve this goal.


Its research, development and advisory work aims to identify future challenges in VET, stimulate innovation in national and international vocational systems and develop new, practice-oriented solutions for initial and continuing vocational training.

Structures and services

  • Studying structural developments in the training centre market and in continuing training
  • Using early recognition to anticipate future skills needs
  • Developing and modernising occupations that require qualifications acquired through further vocational training
  • Monitoring and examining on-the-job initial and continuing training
  • Supporting modern VET centres in order to expand in-company initial and continuing training
  • Implementing pilot projects in the field of initial and continuing training in cooperation with political, hands-on and academic VET stakeholders (supporting experimental models)
  • Supporting in-company VET methodology with modern training material
  • Devising curricula for training the trainer
  • Assessing the quality of distance learning for vocational courses
  • Supervising and assisting with national and international programmes to further develop vocational education and training
  • Carrying out international comparisons of vocational training for research purposes

BIBB to support South Africa in the establishment of a vocational education and training institute

At the WorldSkills 2013 in Leipzig, Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka and South African Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Mduduzi Manana signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing increased cooperation in vocational education and training. The MOU addresses development cooperation measures as well as setting new task focuses such as greater exchange of experts and private stakeholders and the further development of dual initial and continuing training in South Africa. The aim is to shape VET in South Africa in a more practically related way that is aligned to the German dual model.

A German-South African VET Working Group was constituted for this purpose and given the specific mission of shaping this task. Participants from the South African delegation from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the German delegation led by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research began by agreeing an expert exchange in order to support the establishment of a VET institute in South Africa, the South African Institute for Vocational and Continuing Education and Training (SAIVCET). The plan is for the thematic focuses of this exchange to include the fields of research, innovation and curriculum development.

The South African Task Team constituted for the formation of the new Department of Higher Education and Training institute had visited the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB) as long ago as September 2012 in order to gain information about the role and tasks of the institute and about the dual system of VET in Germany. South African Minister of Science and Technology Derek Hanekom subsequently decided to commission BIBB with providing support to the DHET in the establishment of the SAICVET. The first expert visit to BIBB by representatives of the DHET was scheduled for the end of 2013.

More about the BIBB

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Enlarge image GIZ is a public company which assists the Federal Government in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. GIZ supports developing, emerging and transition countries in the area of vocational education and training by offering demand-driven, tailor-made services to improve and expand labour market-oriented VET systems and to build functioning labour markets, having regard to economic and socio-political considerations.


GIZ’s activities in the field of vocational training focus on labour market-oriented VET systems, Centres for Advanced Technology Training and Services, skills development for secure livelihoods, as well as employment promotion and policy. GIZ projects are designed to make a quantifiable contribution to securing and increasing productive and broad-based employment in developing, emerging, industrialised and transition countries.

Subject areas addressed by our activities include vocational education and training for jobs in the formal and non-formal labour market, skills development following conflicts and natural disasters, balancing supply and demand on the labour market, mobility on international labour markets as well as skills development as a multidisciplinary topic in other sectors such as renewable energies and water. Gender issues are also an important multidisciplinary theme.

Structures and services

  • Advising on and providing support for VET reform processes
  • Advising institutions entrusted with VET and labour market issues at all political levels
  • Advising on and supporting the development of needs-driven initial and continuing training measures
  • Developing sustainable implementation concepts and reforms of financing models
  • Developing demand-based concepts for inhouse continuing training and the integration of unemployed people
  • Planning and implementing pilot projects, assessing them and scaling them up
  • Analysing labour market conditions and developing suitable structures and instruments
  • Initial and continuing training and other forms of capacity development for teachers, management staff, advisers, other multipliers and decision-makers
  • Initiating and supporting dialogue processes and creating networks at national, regional and sectoral level
  • Further services in the fields of vocational training and the labour market

GIZ in South Africa

As one of the many different developing projects of the GIZ in South Africa the GIZ has been helping South Africa to restructure and redirect its fragmented, apartheid-era vocational education system since 1995. Using a multi-layered approach, the Employment and Skills Development Services Programme (ESDS) has promoted the competence, potential and skills of local partner organisations and designed and rolled-out a new vocational education system that provides better training for more young people since 2007. At the same time, GIZ has advised and assisted the South African government in setting up Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA), which are designed to increase the competence and performance of organisations in the field of vocational education.

In 2012 the ‘Basic Entrepreneurial Skills Development (BESD)’ programme started to consolidate the results of previous programmes and implement them nationwide. BESD advises the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Small Enterprise Development Agency on how to develop and implement strategies and concepts, thereby promoting the informal sector's access to good basic vocational education. GIZ supports the development of resources and expertise for quality assurance and advises vocational education institutions on the efficient and effective implementation of training courses for small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs.

More about the GIZ

Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK)

The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) is the umbrella organization of the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHKs) and as such represents the interests of a broad swathe of German companies vis-à-vis German policy-makers and European institutions, on behalf of and in coordination with the individual IHKs. It adopts binding rules and assumes a range of sovereign tasks with which the state has entrusted the business community. The DIHK also contributes to shared knowledge management and the membership-oriented further development of the Chambers’ services.

The Chambers (IHKs) are independent institutions incorporated under public law that represent the overall interests of the businesses comprising their membership vis-à-vis local authorities, regional governments, as well as policy-makers and the public in general. One of the Chambers’ key areas of responsibility is the dual system of vocational training. This responsibility is anchored in the Vocational Training Act, which transfers important sovereign tasks to the IHKs, such as the organisation and conduct of public examinations and the issuing of nationally recognised certificates. In this way the IHKs assure the quality of vocational education and training (VET).

The DIHK also coordinates and nurtures the network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs), which currently work from 120 locations in 85 countries around the world. The AHKs are official German institutions for the promotion of foreign trade and investment and also foster bilateral economic relations with the countries in which they are based. They receive part of their funding from the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. AHKs are the official representations of German business wherever they are based, and as a rule are governed by their membership. They are also service providers for businesses seeking access to new markets and improving their position in existing ones.


Vocational education and training has long been an area that fell within the remit of the AHKs, but it is only recently that demand for their services has soared. This is because of the increasing difficulties encountered by German businesses abroad in finding workers with the precise skills they need on the local labour market. The AHKs’ response was to create VET programmes for German companies active abroad which were comparable to those available in Germany. The DIHK-IHK-AHK group aims, through its international collaboration on vocational training, to promote foreign trade and investment by creating skilled workers, to provide international political consultancy services on vocational education and training, to win skilled workers for German businesses abroad and to ensure there are enough skilled workers in Germany by creating a pool of potential skilled immigrants.

Structures and services

  • Coordinating the international training work of the IHK/AHK organisation
  • Representing the IHKs and AHKs as the first point of contact for institutions involved with education in Germany and abroad
  • Advising IHKs and coordinating their activities on all issues of vocational education and training in Germany and abroad
  • Providing political and systemic consultancy services in Germany and abroad
  • Preparing materials, texts and information for instructors and examiners
  • Participating in the development of training regulations
  • Providing information on placements abroad for trainees
  • Advising AHKs on the organisation worldwide of business skills and foreign language acquisition under the dual system of education and training
  • Certifying the equivalence of AHK VET courses

The German Chamber of Commerce Abroad (AHK) in South Africa

Southern African - German Chamber of Commerce and Industry Enlarge image Southern African - German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (© Deutsche Industrie- und Handelskammer für das südliche Afrika) The German Chamber of Commerce Abroad (AHK) in South Africa tries to promote education that teaches employees the skills that are required by German companies in South Africa. The programme was adapted from the German Dual System, and it integrates theoretical learning with practical experience within the workplace.

The Commercial Advancement Training Scheme C.A.T.S has close links with both the Southern African and German companies nationwide and has formulated training programmes collaborated with the current Sector Education Training Authority SETA curriculum to offer unique training methods informed by the specific training needs of the member companies and sponsors.

All businesses have a unique skill set requirement and this is catered for by the Commercial Advancement Training Scheme C.A.T.S founded by the Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry as a section 21 company, and has been operating in South Africa since 1985.

This 2 year vocational training program leads to a certification of competency in Business Administration that is accepted and recognised by the European Union. A second Certificate in “Office Administration” (learnership) is issued by FASSET is quality assured by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers ICB and is imbedded in the C.A.T.S qualification.

More about the DIHK

More about the AHK South Africa

Task Force “Vocational Education and Training” at the German Foreign Office

Around the globe the Dual System of German Vocational Education and Training has generated great interest. Requests often reach first the German diplomatic missions abroad. For this reason a cross-departmental Task Force “Vocational Education and Training” (AS -BB) was set up at the German Foreign Office. It coordinates all tasks related to international VET as well as the position of the Federal Foreign Office within the Federal Government and is the first contact point for diplomatic missions. At the Task Force, information from developing and emerging countries as well as industrialized countries are analysed and evaluated. These reports and project proposals are directed to the competent ministries and institutions, especially to GOVET (German Office for International Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training). In addition, an official of the German Foreign Office has been seconded to GOVET. The Foreign Service brings a well-functioning network of 230 foreign representations in the collaboration. The diplomatic missions support the implementation of projects - often at the specific request of their partners.


The Task Force “Vocational training” sees itself as catalyst and engine for different aspects related to international VET. The treatment of the subject is an example of a network-oriented foreign policy that is continually developed with all relevant organizations, intermediaries, associations, ministries and interested States. Our Objectives are:

  • Giving foreign-policy impetus for different contexts. Developing and emerging countries as well as industrialized countries recognize the importance of well-trained specialists for sustainable growth and employment and estimate the German Dual System as a successful approach. Vocational training is also a key factor for the increase of (youth) employment.
  • Vocational training projects in fragile contexts are (together with employment promotion) a foreign-policy contribution to stabilization, development and growth.
  • Promotion of Foreign Trade: German enterprises at home and abroad have a growing demand for well-trained professionals.
  • Active participation at the Round Table “International VET” as a central steering committee of the activities of the Federal Government, with the aim of mutual information, generating synergies in joint projects and coherence in external appearance.
  • Intensification of the discussion to facilitate the training of third-country nationals in Germany (“Circular VET”) as a contribution to allow for stronger immigration of future professionals.

Structures and services

  • Contact point for inquiries concerning VET issues from abroad and domestic inquiries with international aspects (especially for foreign missions).
  • Accepting, analysing and forwarding requests to GOVET and other partners.
  • Controlling of vocational training measures with foreign policy objectives.
  • Dialogue with all relevant organizations, intermediaries, associations, ministries and interested States.
  • Dialogue with the economy regarding the implementation of vocational education and training solutions abroad.

More about Task Force ''Vocational Education and Training'' at the German Foreign Office


Organisations active in international vocational training

An apprentice workshop in Germany