Is There a Place for Vocational Education in the 21st Century?
Summary of the meeting with the delegation from Germany

On November 27, 2013, a delegation of educators from Germany paid a brief visit to The MOFET Institute. The delegation was hosted by the Ministry of the Economy, and the objective of its visit to Israel was to establish cooperative ventures linked to the issue of vocational education. The members of the delegation consisted of representatives of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), representatives of the Federal Institution of Vocational Education in Germany (BIBB), and representatives of the German Embassy in Israel. The delegation visited The MOFET Institute for the purposes of becoming acquainted with the unique model of a center for the professional development of teacher educators, and examining options of joint learning and future cooperation.

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Mr. Shmuel Pur from the Ministry of the Economy, who initiated the visit, opened the meeting between the MOFET representatives and the guests with greetings and an explanation of the cooperative ventures between his ministry and institutions in Germany. The head of The MOFET Institute, Dr. Michal Golan, went on to present the Institute’s frame of action, its missions, and the directions of its development. The head of the Institute’s International Channel, Dr. Sara Ziv, described the infrastructures of the channel as a basis upon which cooperative ventures with additional institutions can be established.

The main part of the meeting was devoted to a discussion moderated by Prof. Ya’akov Kedem, who began by describing the status of training for vocational education in Israel, and stressed that the country suffers from a shortage of teacher educators in this field. While most of the individuals involved in this type of training are experienced in the vocational field, they lack knowledge in the area of teaching in general and teaching adults in particular. He further pointed out that in his view, improving the image of vocational education depends to a large extent on the teacher educators; however, in general, the professionals who are involved in vocational training today are not prepared to devote any time to teacher training. The question, then, is how to train them for their roles.

Dr. Berthold Hubers, a member of the German delegation, stated that in Germany, too, there is a lack of teacher education knowledge as well as of teacher educators in the field of vocational education. He mentioned that the challenges facing them were similar to those facing us, namely, how to attract high-quality individuals to teaching, and how to get them to remain in the system. Nevertheless, the vocational education offered to youngsters in Germany includes several components that we might well take into consideration, for instance: German youngsters not only choose a vocation in which they would like to specialize, but they also choose the company for which they would like to work. The company selects suitable applicants and is responsible for their vocational training. Simultaneously, the company serves both as a work environment and as a learning environment for the youngsters. Two-thirds of the training process occurs in the company (in the plant), and an expert in vocational training is in charge of that process. The other third occurs in the vocational school. The curriculum is built on the basis of agreement and coordination among the training institutions, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Industry, and the companies that employ the youngsters.

Due to constraints of time, the meeting concluded without a detailed work plan being drafted, but with both sides expressing hopes for continued ties and collaborative learning. An Israeli delegation will already be departing for Germany in September 2014, and we hope that The MOFET Institute will play a significant part in the continuation of the process.

Needless to say, the meeting also helped reinforce the existing fruitful and professional relationship between the Israeli Ministry of the Economy and The MOFET Institute’s International Channel.