In Germany, Calls For A 'Blue-Collar' Bachelor's Degree
Concerned that skilled tradespeople don’t get the respect they deserve, some in Germany are promoting the idea of a “Professional Bachelor’s” degree. For now, universities and their government allies dismiss the idea as “confusing.”
Registrations at German universities are skyrocketing as more and more families choose higher education over trade school training for their offspring. The problem, say trade lobbyists, isn't just that the country will end up with fewer trained craftspeople. There are also questions of status at stake. Increasingly, Germans see non-academic avenues as having less "value" than the university route.
That's why some trades representatives are promoting the idea of a Bachelor degree for people pursuing non-academic training. The proposed "Professional Bachelor's' degree would be a way, at least as far as status is concerned, to even the proverbial playing field.
Roofer Willy Hesse, president of an association of skilled craftsmen, believes that many young people who are pointed down the academic route would be better off doing apprenticeships. He also insists that well-trained craftspersons have no reason to feel inferior to people with university bachelor degrees. But given that so many in Germany feel otherwise, Hesse and other heads of sectors in the trades and crafts support the "Professional Bachelor's' degree plan.
The academic community is against the proposal, as are government-level education officials. Bavaria's minister for education, Ludwig Spaenle, likes to joke that surely things won't get to the point where there is a "Bachelor of Hairdressing."
Like many in the academic community, the federal Ministry of Education believes the "Professional Bachelor" could too easily be confused with an academic degree. Matthias Lung, director of the Bavarian Advertising and Marketing Academy, agrees. A student in Munich took a poll, he said, to find out what a "Professional Bachelor" degree suggested to the public at large, and no one had a clue what it might represent.
Presently, it looks as if the tradespeople are going to have a tough time obtaining a "Professional Bachelor's' degree. Still, all is not lost in their effort to protect the prestige of skilled trades. Politicians, social partners and representatives of the universities are presently working on a "German qualifications framework" that ranks all different types of certificates and degrees into eight levels.
The point of the project is to establish equivalent standards at the European level. In this framework, those with doctorates would be ranked No. 8 – the highest. Master craftspersons and technicians are presently slotted in at level six, the same level as college graduates who have earned a Bachelor degree.
Read the full article in German by Tanjev Schultz
Photo - roger4336
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