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Delegation of Latin American RIFA-partners visited Bavaria (2013)

As the RIFA partner in Bavaria, bfz, the professional training centers of the Bavarian employers’ associations have contributed to the project their contacts to professional training centers and business associations in Central America.

The interregional studies developed during the RIFA project have shown that Central American training institutions face very similar problems in vocational training as their counterparts in the RIFA target countries in West Africa. Therefore, it was considered fruitful to invite a group of representatives from the Latin American RIFA partners to visit Bavaria for a one-week study tour. In April 2013, six staff from IPC Honduras, Intecap Guatemala and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in El Salvador have visited with bfz different institutions of the German vocational training system.

In the north Bavarian city of Hof, they visited a public vocational school. An expert on the dual system introduced them to the German standard dual vocational training system, which is known worldwide to be very effective in providing young people the right combination of both theoretical and practical training in cooperation with vocational schools and companies. In Fürth, a visit to the state labor agency and its professional orientation agency showed the participants how the government gets actively involved in orienting the youth on possible career paths.

After a visit to the technology center at bfz in Nuremberg, one highlight of the visit was a tour of the training facilities of MAN. This world-famous company is a longtime partner of bfz in training young people.

Another part of the program was the support that Germany provides to its disadvantaged groups and their inclusion into the labor market. This topic is still comparatively new in Latin America.

In total, the participants took home valuable experiences and a lot of new insights into the efficiencies of the German vocational training system. Thanks to their participation in the RIFA-project, the know-how they received during the project conferences and studies was complemented by their experiences in Bavaria.


Study Tour and Conference in Frankfurt/Germany (2012)

They come from around the world to Frankfurt to meet, discuss and exchange views and ideas on vocational and professional education - the international experts of the project RIFA.

RIFA (Interregional Réseau pour l'adaptation de la formation professionnelle et technique de l'Artisanat aux besoins) represents an international network for the adaptation of vocational training to the needs of companies, with special focus on small and medium enterprises in the crafts sector.

The project, co-funded by the European Union, aims at the improvement of technical and vocational training with elements of the dual system in Morocco, Benin and the Ivory Coast. At the same time, there are exchanges on regional, national and international levels in which experts and practitioners from Latin America included.

Participating since the beginning is Mohamed Abdellaoui, CEO of the Chamber of Crafts in Fez / Morocco which is in a partnership with the Chamber of Crafts Frankfurt since 1987. "This exchange is very important for us and especially for our instructors, because it brings us new ideas and helps us in the implementation of new concepts in training."

One week in October 2012, a study tour to Germany took place, during which the partners got learned about the German dual system and discussed in detail about "training the trainers" and "professional orientation and job placement".

"We see that Germany is very successful in the dual system training, and we would like to learn how this is being conducted in training centers in Germany," says Michelle Chichiraky from Honduras. For the first time, Honduran vocational training center IPC offers courses this summer with elements of the dual system. People already wait for findings of this trip, to make the offer even better adjusted to the actual work life.

Frankfurt Chamber of Crafts CEO Dr. Christof Riess and Mr. Axel Henkel, Head in the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Transport and Regional Development, welcomed the guests and introduced them to the German economic system. Henkel sensitively described German SMEs (Mittelstand) and their importance as the basis of economic success in Germany. Of central importance are mainly small, often family-run businesses. Small and medium business in Germany, but also in other parts of the world, have always had in common that they are borne by the family. Traditionally they have a far-reaching vision that goes beyond those of big corporations, to the children and next generation.

The week in Frankfurt was structured by workshops, lectures and visits to training centers and enterprises, not only in the Chamber of Crafts Frankfurt in Weiterstadt, but also in the crafts training center in Bergstrasse, as well as in the centers of the partners in Nuremberg and Saarbrucken, all presenting their work and their ideas.

In Weiterstadt, participants visited a variety of workshops and had the opportunity to discuss with students at their auto painting training center.

Duration of training, professional status, remunerations, future plans: at a visit to a car repair shop in Darmstadt the auto painter’s apprentices were ready to answer the questions of the participants.

Education consultant Carolin Schweinzer and the coordinator of the school of crafts, Fredy Dorr explained how they advise businesses and future craftsmen regarding career choices and training planning. The participants were amazed at the diversity of regulated occupations and the control mechanisms that ensure the quality of training.

Special offers for students with learning difficulties were presented in the crafts training center Bergstrasse. In Nuremberg, the group visited the bf training center, equipped with high-end CNC machinery. Also, f-bb vocational training expert Michael Kohl presented on the cooperation of private and public sectors in vocational training in Germany.

In Saarbrucken, after a tour of the new metal processing center at the Chamber of Crafts Saarland, there was a visit at a carpenter’s business where the manager explained on his strategy to prepare young people for the profession.

Only a few hundred meters away, the group had an experience of its own kind: the border with France which has no barrier and is recognizable only by a signboard by the road side.

Nowadays, for us Europeans, the united Europe is so normal that we need to look back through the eyes of non-Europeans in order to be reminded that in many parts of the world today dividing boundaries are still quite normal.

What visits and findings of this week were particularly impressive for the participants?

Participants from Morocco agreed: the list of job descriptions with the legal training framework was most impressive. "In Morocco, only the term crafts is defined in itself, but not each occupation. A comprehensive job description would also help our trainers to focus the young people even closer to their profession."

Nathalie Roy, the project coordinator, is happy to hear that, saying: "This suggestion will be taken up in November, as we will send experts from the chamber Frankfurt to Fez to educate the educators there."

So that the new knowledge can be applied on the spot into practice.

Also the participants from Latin America brought home many new ideas. Whereas the Brazilians found many of the aspects of the own system of vocational education very similar to the German way, the partners from Central America all contributed valuable ideas to the discussions.


RIFA Conference in Morocco (September 2011)

This year’s RIFA Conference was held in Fez, Morocco from 26 to 30 September 2011. For one week, participants from Morocco, Benin, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and Germany met and visited various institutions of vocational education and training in the cities of Fez and Rabat. Besides making themselves acquainted with the system of vocational training in Morocco, the participants discussed issues around the two selected themes of 2011 in participatory workshops.

The conference and the program were organized by the Chamber of Crafts (Handwerkskammer) Frankfurt Rhein-Main in cooperation with the Chamber of Crafts of Fez which also hosted the event. The program focused on two key topics selected for 2011: vocational training in the informal sector and the role of environmental protection in vocational training. Two workshops were held on these topics during which the participants presented the situation in their respective countries. In the discussions, problems were identified and best practices brought together. In addition, Moroccan and German experts were invited to speak on these two issues.

Numerous visits to vocational training institutions in Fez and Rabat were included in the program. In Fez, the participants visited the Centre for Training and Qualification for Handicraft in Batha that teaches traditional crafts and that is famous all over Morocco. Participants also visited the training center for artisans in Fez and a ceramic pottery business.

During a visit in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, participants were informed about the activities of the GIZ (German international cooperation agency) in Morocco. In Rabat, the participants visited the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Education, a university for vocational training.


Morocco: Exchange of staff in June 2011

For one week, the Chamber of Crafts, Fez, Morocco and the Handwerkskammer Rhein-Main, exchanged personnel to target the needs of Moroccan colleagues. Generally, there were two issues to be targeted, as Ms. Schweinzer from HwK Rhein-Main reports:

Foto 1 Professional training
We presented the system of vocational training in Germany. Participants discovered the role and responsibilities of chambers in this system (i.e. examinations and certification of apprentices and master craftsmen, or the system of registration of new apprenticeship contracts, advice and formal teaching, etc.). The rules and rights established by the Ministry and the federation of chambers play an important role in the system. Companies that open an apprenticeship are controlled by the chamber regularly with regard to the trainers and devices available. Consequently, a company that fails a standard can no longer provide training to young people.

Foto 2 The chamber services in Germany and Italy
We introduced the system of Chambers in Germany, its departments, services and newly established initiatives. Then, the director described the financing of the chamber’s infrastructure and how previous years prove that the chamber is needed. Today the chambers in Germany are moving towards services tailored to the needs of business. It starts with the need for guidance for the export in a globalized world, the regulations of the European Union, etc. The positive outcomes for craft businesses have a tendency to increase. In the afternoon, we had an expert from Vicenza, Italy with us at the Frankfurt Chamber. Andrea Rossi, Director of International Affairs, explained the system and the financing of chambers and associations in Italy. Only by giving excellent services it is appropriate to business needs.

Brazil - a good example of Best Practice

The conference and study tour to Curitiba, Brazil,, from 29 November to 3 December 2010 was a great success. The participants were not only impressed by the system of vocational education in Brazil, but also by the hospitality and professionalism of the Brazilian partners and hosts.

The conference and study tour began with an opening ceremony including a welcome address by Paraná State Senator Flávio Arns, as well as speeches by representatives of private sector organizations like CACB (Confederation of Business Associations of Brazil) and FACIAB (Association of Industry and Trade Associations of Paraná) and organizations such as Sequa, bfz as well as representatives of professional education in Brazil (e.g. Senar).

After a short presentation about Brazil and the State of Paraná by the director of SEBRAE, Allan Marcelo Costa and Mr. Virgilio Moreira, Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the State of Paraná, Mr. Ronaldo M. Casagrande, director of the Centro Tecnológico - Universidade Positivo introduced the system of vocational education in Brazil with its advantages, but also its challenges.

The next few days were filled with visits and meetings with a variety of institutions in the Brazilian professional education system. Also, in two workshops, the participants discussed two main themes of the conference: the financing of vocational education and safety at work within the framework of vocational training.

To get a complete picture of vocational education in Brazil, visits were focused on the individual elements of the system of vocational education at the state and federal level and at the Brazilian S-system, managed by the private sector in close collaboration with institutions such as SENAI (industrial training) and SENAR (agricultural training) and SEBRAE (development of micro and small enterprises) and corporate and business associations (e.g. FIEPE, FAEP). They also focused on topics such as employability of people trained and retraining of the unemployed. Here, the cooperation among different institutions in vocational education, especially with the private sector, was emphasized.

The two workshops on "Financing of Vocational Education” and “Work Safety in Vocational Education" were very informative. In the groups, that used the method of meta-plan cards, representatives of the participating countries presented the situation in their home countries with their strengths and weaknesses. This led to interesting group discussions. During the presentations by a representative from each country the group gave notes and asked questions. At the end of the workshops, each delegation identified three innovations and solutions from another country that could possibly be transferred to their own country.

Kick-off Conference and Participatory Workshop in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

The opening conference and participatory workshop was held in Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire from 23 to 26 March 2010. It was attended by representatives of the Project partners and representatives of the target countries: Morocco, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Brazil, Guatemala and El Salvador (Honduras was not present).

The participants visit  a center for professional training in Abidjan to learn about the professional education in the car mechanic sector.For the opening ceremony of the conference and the signing of the cooperation agreements the print and broadcast media were invited. Mr. Sidiki Konate, Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts, and Mr. Yapo Ase, Minister of Technical Education, as well as His Excellency the German Ambassador in Côte d'Ivoire, Dr. Keller, were guests of honor. Each of them gave an opening speech and attended the signing of cooperation agreements between the project partners.

The objectives of the participatory workshop were to establish contacts between the partner organizations to develop their commitment vis-à-vis the project and the trust and mutual understanding between partners and stakeholders, and also to ensure a common understanding of the project, its objectives and expected results and to clarify the functions and responsibilities of partners and stakeholders.

Each delegation presented its organization and the vocational training system established in their country.

The workshop participants identified the business sectors in which exchanges of information on certain key issues will be conducted - as analytical studies presented at interregional conferences: carpentry, auto mechanics, baking, hairdressing / beauty and textile sector. Participants identified the themes of the studies: the financing of TVET, safety, protection of the environment, the problem of the informal sector and its integration into the formal sector, qualification of trainers and instructors and the attractiveness of vocational training.

To better know the system of vocational education in Cote d'Ivoire, our host, the CNMCI, organized visits to two vocational training centers in Abidjan, to the Centre for Advanced Training of Mechanics and Electricity (CPMME) and Development Center for Automotive Trades (CPM-A). These two centers offer alternate training courses.