In the constantly changing world of work, continuing education and professional training are incredibly important. The option to pursue additional qualifications helps secure a company’s competitiveness and jobs, as well as ensuring the employability of its staff.
Having anticipated the growing importance of career-long training, IG Metall (union) and Südwestmetall (employer’s association) entered into a joint agreement on qualifications back in 2001 for employees in the metal and electrical industry in Baden-Württemberg.
In 2015, IG Metall and Südwestmetall renewed this joint agreement…
… which includes the following regulations:
- Employees have a right to hold regular conversations with their employer discussing whether or not they need to complete additional training or qualifications.
- The employer must inform the works council about the qualifications required, and agree on qualification programmes. The employer and the works council must discuss the implementation of these programmes at least once a year, taking the company’s business priorities into account.
- Full-time employees who have been at the company for five years are entitled to an one-off, fixed-term, part-time contract or a fixed-term sabbatical, which they can use to pursue additional qualifications within the framework of personal, professional further education.
- The companies and works councils will receive support from the joint agency for the promotion of continuing professional education in the metal and electronics industry, known as AgenturQ.
What AgenturQ offers
AgenturQ’s work is unique in Germany. By establishing AgenturQ, a joint, equally financed institution, the two social partners, IG Metall and Südwestmetall, have shown their mutual interest in strengthening the culture of continuing professional development for companies in the metal and electrical industry in Baden-Württemberg.
Within these companies and in works councils AgenturQ wants to strengthen awareness of the fact that continuing professional development is a necessary part of an ever-changing work environment and that they should be looking to make the most of their employees’ qualification potential. What AgenturQ offers companies and works councils can be summed up in four main points:
AgenturQ provides works councils and companies with information about opportunities for internal continuing training programmes, the use of subsidies to support professional development, or appropriate qualification programmes offered by external providers such as chambers of industry and educational institutions. Additionally, it offers information on practice-oriented findings from research into continuing training programmes, new learning and teaching methods, and examples of best practice from real business experiences.
AgenturQ offers works councils and companies tailored advice on how to implement the requirements of the joint agreement on qualification into their company, whether this is discussing qualification options with employees, for example, or assessing qualification needs. It also provides consulting on the range of qualification programmes on offer, how they can be implemented and just what is involved. Representatives are very happy to consult companies on site.
AgenturQ supports works councils and companies in determining which qualification programmes are needed. It also provides support in drawing up company agreements about qualifications or with questions about continuing professional development for new working methods and production processes. It is also able to mediate between the works council and the employer in cases where they are unable to reach an agreement about which qualifications are needed and which programmes are most appropriate.
AgenturQ develops new continuing training concepts so that works councils and companies can meet the ever-changing need for new qualifications in the metal and electrical industry in good time. One focus of its work is developing new continuing training programmes for unskilled and semi-skilled employees, older employees and employees coming back after a break from work.
5. Practical tools for company-based continuing training
Across its projects, AgenturQ has developed a series of practical tools together with companies and works councils, which can be used directly in internal continuing training programmes:
- Sector and job-specific continuing training concepts for Industry 4.0
- Tools for recognising and documenting skills gained outside of official programmes (AiKomPass)
- Framework conditions for implementing innovative and work-related continuing training concepts
- Tools for analysing educational and learning requirements, and for systematically designing work-oriented learning initiatives