The debate on inclusion in vocational education and training has been pushed at the latest since the ratification of the UNCRPD. Article 24 (education) and Article 27 (work and employment) of the Convention explicitly refer to the context of vocational training (Enggruber & Rützel, 2014). With Article 24, States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. They commit to ensuring an “inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning” (UN CRPD, 2017, p. 20). Article 27 focuses on the “equal right of persons with disabilities to work” (UN CRPD, 2017, p. 24). Accompanying this, action plans, resolutions, recommendations, initiatives and statements for the training and employment sector emerged (Enggruber & Rützel, 2014). For dual vocational training, the Vocational Training Act (BBiG) and the Crafts Code (HwO) provide the legal framework for the inclusion of people with disabilities (Bylinski & Vollmer, 2015). The BBiG and HwO stipulate that people with disabilities should be trained in recognized apprenticeship occupations (Bylinski & Vollmer, 2015). “Inclusive vocational training could be further described as the right of people with disabilities to vocational training in a recognized training occupation, which is to be designed together with people without disabilities in the learning venues.” (Euler & Severing, 2016, p. 29).
The federal project “IKKE – Educational and Accessibility through Digitization Tools in Vocational Training” (FKZ 01PE18007) was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) for the period 01.08.2018 to 31.12.2021 as part of the program “Digital Media in Vocational Training”.
In the exchange about own experiences on participation in vocational training and the rigid structures of the education system, which is characterized by separate learning up to the clear separation of people with disabilities, the urgent desire for change arose. So far, the training and learning of the target groups takes place separately at the project partners, in workshops for people with disabilities and in separate training systems. Companies do not have the necessary capacity for assistance and individual support for people with impairments or disabilities. In addition, disability-related workplace requirements and growing complexity, digitalization and mobility present barriers. Currently, there are few choices and few suitable training and work opportunities for people with impairments or disabilities. Workshops for people with disabilities often do not offer the chance to obtain a certified vocational qualification. By participating in rehabilitation training or working in workshops for disabled people, the participants are socially and professionally restricted.
The core objective of the project “IKKE – Educational and Accessibility through Digitization Tools in Vocational Training” is to develop and research an innovative, digital teaching and learning environment for vocational training. Through functional, modularized digital teaching and learning tools for the vocational field of kitchen, young people with and without disabilities or impairments (PWD) should be enabled to learn together in a self-determined and self-controlled manner at all locations of vocational education in a flexible, location- and time-independent, systematized way with and from each other.
The project took place as a cooperation between the partners BBZ Berufsbildungszentrum Prignitz GmbH, Oberstufenzentrum Prignitz des Landkreises Prignitz (OSZ), Lebenshilfe Prignitz e.V. and the Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal. The alliance enables the active involvement of the relevant target groups – trainees as cooks, trainees as kitchen specialists, and people with disabilities or impairments from the work area and the vocational training area of the sheltered workshop for the disabled (WfbM). At Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences, the two departments of Applied Human Sciences and Economics were involved in the project and were responsible for the conception, testing, implementation and evaluation of the inclusive, digital learning support.
Ten central conditions for success for further projects and corresponding goals can be derived from the project results. These conditions can be disruptive factors if they are not observed, and supportive factors if they are observed and implemented. They represent overarching results derived from the IKKE project (NN refers to the respective occupational profile; in the IKKE project, it was that of the cook). For the corresponding project work, these central results should be addressed by all network partners and, in the best case, implemented.
1. intensive involvement of the staff of the network partners in project planning and implementation (participatory approach).
2. intensive involvement of all target groups (NN trainees, specialist trainees and people with disabilities) in project planning and implementation (participatory approach).
3. education and discussion rounds for the staff of all partners.
4. involvement of potential companies in the project through discussions and visits.
5. recognized modularization of training and recognized partial qualifications (Quali-Bausteine).
6. adaptation and optimization of structural aspects such as technology, premises and WLAN expansion.
7. inclusive teaching adapted to individual skills and abilities through the use of special materials (accessibility) and personnel support.
8. inclusion of all those involved in education (including all teachers) through appropriate training, especially on the topics of inclusion, technology and didactics.
9. reduction of prejudices and fears among the staff and also among the trainees and employees by getting to know each other, workshops and mutual visits.
10. project work according to the motto “try and adapt if necessary” in order not to exclude certain methods or possibilities in advance.
The following relevant recommendations for action can be derived from the central conditions for success:
Promote motivation through:
Taking prior knowledge into account, providing different levels of difficulty
Support digitization by:
informing participants about the dangers of the digital world
Training all participants on technology and programs
Establishing digital infrastructure (e.g., project partners, such as workshops, could also be equipped with tablets; tablets that participants can take home → for more location- and time-independent learning)
Strengthen inclusive togetherness by:
Creating a feedback culture → learning how to deal with criticism
Strengthening sense of community through NN workshops (or other workshops where cooperative learning is used), as positive interdependence that takes place in cooperative learning has a socially integrative effect (Borsch, 2018)
Train and use tutors/mentors as independent contact persons in case of experiences of exclusion.
01.08.2018 – 31.12.2021
- BBZ Vocational Training Center Prignitz
- University Madeburg – Stendal
- Lebenshilfe Prignitz e.V.
- Secondary school center Prignitz
- Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
- European Social Fund (ESF)
- German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Prof. Dr. Michael A. Herzog
Prof. Dr. Matthias Morfeld
Victoria Batz, M.A.
Inga Lipowski, M.A.