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Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training in the Crafts Sector (FBH)


In skilled crafts and trades, entrepreneurship and vocational education mutually depend on each other. Master craftsmen are engaged in training and education of apprentices – some of these former apprentices become master craftsmen themselves and build up their own business or take over an existing enterprise. This approach is good practice with a long tradition and a sustainable prospect at the same time. Over 20.000 skilled women and men obtain their master craftsmen-certificate – most of them completed their initial vocational education and training in German enterprises in the skilled crafts sector.

‘Job orientation’, training within the ‘German Dual (vocational education and training) System’ in regulated professions, and Continuous Vocational Education and Training (CVET), provided by competence centers of chambers and confederations, form a characteristical process that shapes vocational education and training in the skilled crafts sector. We, the Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training in the Crafts Sector at the University of Cologne (FBH) are the center for research in vocational education and training within the Deutsches Handwerksinstitut (DHI, Berlin), a network of craft-sector-related research institutes.

The FBH is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the State Ministries for Economic Affairs and the German Association of Chambers of Crafts (DHKT).

Fields of Competence

Research in vocational education and training with its influence on the economic structure in the skilled crafts sector requires an understanding of craftsmen-people. Our research is therefore dominated by qualitative approaches that facilitate a deep understanding of interrelationships.These methods are highly applicable for our research in the fields of early identification of qualification needs, securing professional personnel or the management of digitally supported learning processes.

In order to obtain findings about career-developments into, within and out of the skilled crafts sector, we additionally make use of quantitative approaches. For a couple of years, we have been questioning master craftsmen concerning personal vocational and economical effects connected to their master craftsmanship. Further exemplary research fields based on quantitative methods deal with job orientation or the evaluation of the sector-wide apprentice instruction from both the entrepreneurs’ and the apprentices’ perspective.

Within our role as leading research center for vocational education and training in the skilled crafts sector, especially regarding master craftsmanship-related curricular development, we acquired a special expertise in developing curricula considering sector-related particularities and interdependencies.

Cooperation and Network

The FBH cooperates with all relevant institutions, dealing with vocational education and training in the skilled crafts sector – a network which we refer to as research-practice-communication:

  • In the field of curricular development, for instance, with federal ministries and the social partners (trade unions and sector confederations), which are responsible for the regulations on the master craftsman examination regulations,
  • in the field of education policy with chambers, confederations and their top organizations,
  • in the field of implementation of learning processes and competence assessment with competence centers and their instructors, exam committees and schools,
  • in the field of specific research projects with a multitude of research institutes in the field of vocational and economical pedagogics – mostly in German universities

Today’s ideas. Tomorrow’s impacts.

Digitalization, artificial intelligence, sustainability of the transition in the energy policy and regional networks in a globalized economy are topics carried by people who need to be qualified and enabled to face these challenges. This is connected with a multitude of research questions in the field of vocational pedagogics. We, the FBH, take care of these questions.

Thus, we will participate in several projects within the initiative of the federal ministry of education and research (BMBF) aiming at the development of sustainable excellent vocational education in order to improve continuous vocational education and training within different levels of higher education considering the future challenges.