In Stuttgart, the capital of southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state which is famous as a manufacturing hub, representatives of Palestinian private sector companies, Al Quds University and the Ministry of Higher Education gathered to take part in a study tour organised by GIZ/GFA during the period 08 to 16 June 2019
The study tour aimed at providing the participants with the opportunity to gain deep understanding of the German experience in the Dual education system, the relation and cooperation between private sector and higher education institutions as well as to learn more about the future trends in industries (e.g. industry 4.0 ) and their impact on the future of education.
During the one-week tour, the participants had the chance to visit several renowned German companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Bosch, Kärcher, IBM and ABB, where the Dual Study system is implemented in partnership with the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Stuttgart. During the bilateral meetings with the visited firms and the university, the participants had the chance to exchange with German professionals, Dual Study undergraduates and training supervisors. They learnt more about the history of the dual system in Germany, its mechanisms of application, the students’ selection and evaluation process, its accomplishments, as well as the structure of the partnership and the harmonising relationship between the German private sector and university.
Rami Afaneh, who works as Human Resource Manager at National Beverage Company (NBC), expressed his admiration for the German dual system saying that “if such system was offered during my time at university, I would have certainly joined it” adding that “during the tour, we touched the perfect combination between the higher education institutions and the industries in Germany. The development and launching of new dual studies courses that commensurate with the needs of the labour market and industries are perfectly done within this system. This is exactly what we need in Palestine, we have to work together to help to reduce the unemployment rate in Palestine while securing the needed skilled workforce.”
At the end of the tour, the visiting group stated their appreciation for the German experience and the achievements of such model of labour market-oriented higher education. “I’d like to express my gratitude for such a unique opportunity that allowed me, and the group, to get to know thoroughly about one of the significant pillars of the German education system. I observed the main part played by the dual educational system in the economy on the one hand, and in building the capacity of young people and creating a future workforce on the other hand” said Imad Shamasneh, Technical Supervisor at Mada, a Palestinian company that provides internet services and one of the partners of the Dual Studies at Al Quds University.
The participants also emphasised the importance of promoting what has been identified during this visit in order to further develop the Dual system in Palestine and to strengthen the partnership between the higher education institutions and the private sector. They recommended the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education to endorse and encourage more programmes that follow such a model of interactive and labour market-oriented higher education.
Hania Salama, one of the participants in the study tour and the CSR executive at the Palestinian Arab Investment Company (APIC), where about 15 dual study students of AQU are being trained, stated that “It is essential to have such a system in Palestine thanks to Al Quds University. For me, it will be on my priority list when I return home to work on strengthening the partnership with the university, and hopefully to increase the number of students at APIC.”
Currently, around 240 Palestinian students are enrolled in the Dual Studies Programme at Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem. The faculty of the Dual Studies Programme offers four selected subject areas that respond to a high labour market demand. The four current specialisations are Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Business Administration and Information Technology. The first cohort of the Dual Studies is expected to graduate in 2019, with a high probability that students of this cohort will be employable immediately after graduation.
It is worth mentioning that the study tour is organized for the fourth year in a row by the Dual Studies Programme at Al Quds University in East Jerusalem with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through GIZ Programme “More Job Opportunities for Palestinian Youth” in cooperation with GFA-consulting group and the Steinbeis Institute in Stuttgart.
GIZ and KFW are currently implementing, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), the programme “More Job Opportunities for Palestinian Youth” (MJO) as part of the BMZ Special Initiative to stabilise and promote development in North Africa and the Middle East with focus on employment promotion. Through the support of MJO Programme, the Dual Study Programme is implemented at Al-Quds University (AQU) in East Jerusalem.