Speech by Minister of State Maria Böhmer at the business event hosted by the Latin America Initiative of German Business as part of the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Germany and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at the House of German Business in Berlin on 2 March 2015

02.03.2015 - Speech

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Foreign Minister Rodrigues-Birkett,
Secretary General LaRoque,
Dr Festge,
Ladies and gentlemen!

A very warm welcome to you all, here in the House of German Business!

As important partners to Germany in a glbalised world, you are our guests to intensify cooperation between our countries.

The world is changing fast. Germany and the European Union are facing major challenges.

Events in Ukraine and the position Russia has been taking are calling into question our European post-war order. And our understanding of self-determination and Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

This makes it all the more important for the European Union to act together in the interest and to the benefit of the people in Ukraine.

The current financial situation in Greece is another cause for concern and the source of many open questions. I am confident, however, that we will find a solution here in the European Union by working together.

The need to respond to the changing world order means Germany’s foreign policy is called upon to play its part. Especially in crisis prevention, crisis management and reconstruction. To do so, we need strong and reliable partners on the global stage.

In this globalised world, we work particularly closely and successfully with partners who commit themselves to respecting human rights and the rule of law. The rule of law, of course, is also a pre-condition of investment security.

Business plays an important role in our countries’ competitiveness, capacity for innovation and future economic strength.

Germany and the Caribbean countries have enjoyed trust-based and successful cooperation for a long time.

For many different reasons, the dual system of vocational training has worked particularly well in Germany. It has grown into a vital factor in our competitiveness.

Other countries around the world are increasingly interested in Germany’s dual system, especially after the economic crisis in Europe. Our vocational training system proved to be an important factor in our economic stability.

The German model is based on linking school and the workplace. It combines study at a vocational college with an apprenticeship in a business.

Part of the arrangement is each trainee’s link to a company and, often, the prospect of a job.

This is most significant because one of the problems we are seeing in Europe is high unemployment among young people. Germany has the lowest rate in the EU. At around 7 percent, this is far below the European average. The dual system has played its part in this.

In the run-up to this conference, many of you said you would like to learn more about Germany’s dual system of vocational training.

The panel discussions with experts this evening should serve that purpose!

It is important to me to support young people in their education and training, especially women and girls. We need to do even more for them, both in business and in the context of development cooperation.

In embassies, chambers of commerce and German business, you will find partners in developing the dual system.

A few weeks ago, I went with the Latin American and Caribbean ambassadors to visit the Siemens training centre in Berlin. Young people from all over the world are trained there, within the company. The ambassadors’ response to the dual system was very positive.

Our vocational training system can’t be exported one-to-one to other countries. But the basic principle can be applied with just a few targeted measures, and that will mean a lasting improvement in the way a skilled workforce is ensured.

We also need to create an awareness that training is a major advantage in the pursuit of a career.

At the same time, it is important to dispel the prejudice that status and a good income are only possible with an academic degree. We are convinced that this system can make sense and be helpful in non-European countries too.

Employers have a major interest too, given the shortages of skilled labour. Here in the House of German Business, you will find the right partners who are ready to work with you and keen to provide support!

I hope tonight inspires you with plenty of interesting ideas for vocational training that you can take home to your own countries.

Thank you.

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