During its EU Council Presidency in the second half of 2020, Germany intends to step up efforts towards a social Europe. One major challenge facing the European Union in this context is youth unemployment. That is why Germany wants to work with its partner countries to improve the prospects for young people, thereby helping to increase both employment and prosperity. It will be especially important here for the European partner countries to learn from each other and to exchange experiences.
The dual system of vocational training – a model for success
Cooperation between Germany and Spain on vocational training is particularly successful. Germany’s dual system of vocational training is greatly respected in Spain. “The dual system of vocational training is the German antidote to unemployment”: this headline appeared in a Spanish newspaper in spring 2018. Madrid’s regional government, for instance, aims to promote the dual system of vocational training in Madrid, particularly in growth sectors (such as digital occupations) and to train young people in line with the demands of the job market.
The fact that this system has met with such interest in Spain is due to a large extent to the German Vocational School FEDA, one of some 140 German Schools abroad. FEDA has been offering dual vocational training courses for more than 40 years, working with the Chamber of Commerce Abroad and over 50 member companies to train, among others, industrial clerks and haulage and logistics clerks. The school has received several awards and is expanding into other parts of Spain, including Valencia and Seville. It is also enhancing the competitiveness of the participating companies, because future skilled workers are attracted from the outset by the prospect of excellent training and so develop ties to their company very early on. Alfonso Rojas, who has completed his first year of training at FEDA in Tenerife, says: “We have all benefited. We were brave and even got over the general fear that grips you when you have to learn German.” During his visit to Spain in November 2018, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met trainees at FEDA and praised the importance of practical vocational training in combating youth unemployment.
Working with Spain to seek European solutions
“Europe needs more Spain,” said Maas in Madrid. With the prospect of Brexit on the horizon, pro-Europe Spain’s engagement is more important than ever. Spain will have a greater responsibility to help shape Europe. The pro-Europe governments will have to work more closely together. In Spain approval ratings for the EU are very high, at 78%. In his speech to the Ambassadors Conference, Foreign Minister Maas said Spain was one of the countries that had to get more closely involved in order to hold Europe’s middle ground together. For the same reason, Maas and his Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell agreed to approach the German-Spanish dialogue even more systematically and to expand it. The two ministers also agreed to coordinate more closely on foreign and European policy. On the subject of migration, too, exchange between the two countries is more intensive than ever before: as part of the regular dialogue on migration, Germany and Spain discuss, among other things, their engagement in countries of origin and transit in North and West Africa. Having Spain on board is crucial for European solutions, not least as regards migration.