After having been a rather neglected field of intervention in international development cooperation over the last decades, vocational education is currently experiencing a revival. Reasons for this are the high levels of youth unemployment, the realisation that primary education qualifications are not sufficient to enable people to break out of the cycle of poverty and, lastly, the focus of international development cooperation on economic development.
However, vocational education is seen as inefficient and an educational disadvantage in most developing countries, making any upward social mobility impossible. Discussions thus focus on how vocational training could be improved to meet both the needs of the economy as well as higher quality standards and how such improvements could help with escaping the "dead-end vocational training". There has been considerable interest in the German model of dual vocational training (in the workplace and in vocational school) in many developing countries, which is considered to be the main reason for the low levels of youth unemployment in German speaking countries.
ÖFSE analyses vocational training as part of education systems in developing countries both in the light of different colonial traditions and new global developments as well as with regard to current strategies of economic development. With respect to possible transfers of the dual system, questions to be investigated are the specific interests of old and new key players in international development (e.g. the corporate sector of donor countries) and the strategies needed to make vocational training an effective method of poverty reduction and of overcoming social disparities, thus generating inclusive economic growth.