Inter-company vocational training centres were originally set up to provide complementary vocational education and training (VET) targeted at apprentices in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The increasing specialisation of SMEs required the provision of this additional training to guarantee full coverage of all VET elements, allowing SMEs to focus on work-based training. In the meantime, inter-company vocational training centres have been further developed into multifunctional centres of education, offering also advanced training and continuing education (including master craftsman programmes), as well as occupational guidance and preparation. The German Federal Institute for VET is involved in the planning, establishment and development of the ÜBS, as well as in their further development into competence centres.
With this special programme of digitisation in vocational training centres, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting education institutions in acquiring digital devices, machines, systems and software. Funding is provided for pilot projects in eight competence centresand their networks, where the newest digital technology is applied. The project teams are investigating the effects of digitisation on inter-company education in various occupations. They develop innovative education concepts and disseminate them as multipliers. These projects focus on:
- crafts: trainees learn about applications of digital technologies in their profession, such as smart home technologies in plumbing, heating and air conditioning;
- digital security: trainees get familiar with specialisations in building management, locking and safety technology, digital processes and the latest technological developments;
- automation technology and electrical engineering: efficient tools for collecting and disseminating data are used; training examples include quick response codes (QR codes), chips for identification by means of electromagnetic waves (RFID chips) and touch devices;
- digital qualification offensive in inter-company vocational training centres: trainees learn about 3D printers in carpentry, mobile work with customers and on construction sites, and online marketing;
- inter-company teaching/learning arrangements for digitised business fields of e-crafts with integrative trainer qualification: energy turnaround and technological change in smart buildings lead to major changes in building services engineering, creating new fields of action in craft businesses, which in turn create new demands on the training of skilled workers;
- dental techniques: in the near future, more and more ‘printable’ materials will be certified according to the Medical Devices Act. To achieve successful results in the digital work process, technical knowledge and skills are still a prerequisite, but dental technicians must also be able to process complex data sets;
- carpentry: the evaluation of individual wooden components (for example for roofs or carports) is usually no longer done by traditional methods alone; industry software is used. The building physics requirements for heat, moisture, sound and fire protection have also become considerably more stringent, requiring the ability to process appropriate electronic data;
- construction information modelling: this refers to a method of optimised planning, execution and management of buildings using software. The basic element is a multidimensional construction model; relevant data are digitally modelled, linked and captured.