Business apprenticeships – providing business training in parallel to education at a vocational college or university of cooperative education – are one of the strengths of the German economy, mainly due to the way they marry theory with practice. Georgian winegrowers now hope to benefit from this German specialty. The Steinbeis Innovation Center of Wine Economy at Heilbronn University offers wine businesses a spectrum of transfer services, including consulting. Its recent project – aimed at providing vineyard owners with formal qualifications and setting up “dual” training within the Georgian wine industry – will introduce local winegrowers to this new concept of parallel education, and thus help modernize Georgian vocational training along the same lines as tried and trusted apprenticeships in Germany.
One of the main aims of the German-Georgian training scheme is to promote partnership between public educational bodies and private enterprise in the Georgian winegrowing business. This is similar to the approach in Germany and it is hoped this will improve vocational training in Georgia and the standard of the curriculum. The initiative ranges from the launch of dual education for vintners and heads of cellars, to staff training for managers and providing managers with official qualifications.
Georgia has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to providing managers at winemakers and wine processing companies with basic training and qualifications. After the old political system broke down, many training establishments were forced to close due to the lack of teaching staff and funding. To make up for these deficits in vocational training – in what for Georgia is a key sector of the economy – the experts at the Steinbeis Innovation Center have launched a two-year dual education scheme for winegrowers and vintners. It’s all part of a project at the center of vocational education in the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti. Theory is taught with German specialist literature which has been translated into Georgian and adapted to local needs. Vocational training takes place within the winegrowing companies in the region that signed on to the program. Potentially, when the young people doing the apprenticeships have completed their training, these firms will become their future employer. The winegrowers need the support of experts, especially in management, and it is hoped that much input will come from the apprentices.
The seminar and training sessions organized by the German experts – in Georgia and Germany – have already given teaching staff at the vocational colleges and managers of participating winegrowing companies plenty of new ideas. These new insights can now be handed on to the apprentices in Georgia – and knowledge transfer can start to accelerate.
Step by step, the German educational model will help enhance the long-term efficiency of Georgia’s most important sector of industry and become an indispensable prerequisite for the sustainable development of the winemaking industry. Synergies generated by the project will be transferred to other programs of vocational training in the country, and the dual system will also be adopted by other industries. Lessons learned during the project can thus be built upon and applied to other areas of the farming and agrifood sector – also in other countries in the Caucasus region.
Given the deficits in basic vocational training and management education in other countries in the Caucasus region, it would certainly be worth transferring the project and, with it, the process to those countries. For emerging economies, taking on the principles of dual vocational training is a golden opportunity to improve qualifications, enhance staff competitiveness and thus provide workers with new prospects for their future careers.