VET research and monitoring are regulated in the Vocational Training Act as a main task of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). Several university chairs for vocational education and training and independently operated institutions are conducting VET research and monitoring as well as research institutes linked with social partners organisations.

Research and Monitoring according to the vocational training act

The Vocational Training Act regulates VET research, planning and statistics. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has to submit a yearly report on vocational education and training to the Federal Government. The report monitors the developments in the dual apprenticeship system, identifies challenges and proposes solutions.

The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training was established in 1970 according to the Vocational Training Act as an institute for research, development and promotion regarding out-of-school vocational education and training. The act specifies the statistical data that have to be compiled for the planning and organisation of vocational training. The BIBB and the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) of the Federal Employment Agency support the Federal Statistical Office in the preparation of the statistics. The BIBB publishes a yearly data report supplementing the report on vocational education and training of the BMBF. The BIBB also sets its own research agenda; it launches about four self-financed research projects yearly and contributes to third-party funded research projects.

Besides those institutes the BMBF also supports major VET research initiatives such as the initiative for VET research (Berufsbildungsforschungsinitiative, BBFI), technology-based assessment of skills and competencies in VET (Technologie-orientierte Kompetenzmessung in der Berufsbildung, ASCOT) or more recently the interactive labour market data portal (QuBe).

Research at universities and research organisations

In addition to the VET research based on the vocational training act, several universities run chairs for vocational education and training in faculties mainly dedicated to vocational and business teaching education (Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik). They develop research in parallel to their respective teacher training programmes or have founded research groups. Organisations respectively foundations linked to social partners’ organisations or political parties are running research activities taking on-board relevant issues and formulating proposals for improvement of the German VET system. Private research institutes have also been founded to carry out research and counselling in the field of VET such as the Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (f-bb).

In recent years research institutes such as the Institute for the Study of Labour (IZA) as private organisation or the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) as public non-university research institute have increased their VET research activities, linking VET research to their own agenda of labour market and socio-economic development.

Research in networks

In 1991 the Vocational Education and Training Research Network (AG BFN) was founded. Members are the BIBB, the IAB, the pedagogical institutes of the Federal States, the section Vocational Studies and Economic Education of the German Society of Educational Science (DGfE) as well as private and public research institutions. The AG BFN organizes panels, workshops and conferences in cooperation with tertiary institutions and research institutes.