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Market Conditions of International VET Providers: German Providers in Comparison to Market Leaders

Peters, Susanne; Meyne, Lisa

Nägele, Christof; Stalder, Barbara E.; Weich, Miriam

Context: Vocational education and training (VET) is a highly complex phenomenon world-wide, being multidimensional and having diverse structures. Additionally, very different actors define the functions of a national (or even regional) VET system. The paper contributes to a better understanding of approaches and strategies of one selected actor: VET providers on international markets.

Approach: We wonder which conditions and characteristics can be determined regarding the markets of VET-related services, with a special regard to Anglo-Saxon countries in comparison to Germany. A qualitative approach is useful here as there seem to be structural causes but only little research in this field exists. We interviewed 9 VET providers and analysed literature about VET systems of the countries of interest.

Findings: In Anglo-Saxon countries, more and more full-fee-paying learners and organisations are available and the VET providers’ self-perception regarding their businesses can be de-scribed as trade and commerce. This goes along with the observation that the education system does not play a role – as long as you think in terms of skills. This is the case in liberal market-driven VET approaches, but in Germany, it is not. Here, rather, a holistic and integrated development of knowledge and transferable skills for work and life make up vocational education.

Conclusions: Offering niche products, in the sense of the product focus rather than differenti-ation, seems to be a working strategy. Furthermore, we state that markets for VET-related services are successfully developing where state provision is rather weak, e.g. when the state provides a rather limited supply (the privatisation of the education system), or when the VET-related service is not covered by public educational offers (e.g. in highly specialised IT). English, as the native language of the USA, the UK and Australia, is a decisive competitive advantage.

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