1. What is business training?
Business Training (VT) is a 2-year scheme for young people looking to gain qualifications for entry into the job market. Developed in Germany and based on the German “Dual System”, the students divide their work into practical training within a company (3.5 days per week) and attending theoretical classes (1.5 days per week). The theoretical classes are taught by specifically trained teachers at the German Swiss International School (GSIS) Hong Kong.
It this “Dual System”: the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GIC) and the schoolwork together in close cooperation with the training companies. They jointly discuss and decide on the curriculum. The chamber conducts the whole traineeship and the final examination as well.
The basic curriculum for the traineeship – the “KMK-Rahmenlehrplan” – is issued in Germany and each Bundesland decides independently on its own “Lehrplan”.
2. Where is the Business College and does it have its own dedicated buildings?
The Business College is one department of GSIS. Classes are held in the Kaiser Commercial Centre, 1F, 18 Centre Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong.
3. How long has this scheme been in operation in Hong Kong, and what are its similarities/differences to what happens in Germany?
The department was established in the Mid-Eighties; in the first years the course was conducted by a local teacher and concentrated on the syllabus for “Bürokaufmann” training. Later the focus of the traineeship was shifted to “Groß- und Außenhandelskaufmann” or “Wholesale and Foreign Trade” (with emphasis on “Wholesale Business”).
Since 1994, the Head of the Vocational Training Department has been sent by the German government.
Until 2002 the curriculum and the written examinations in Hong Kong were exactly the same as it is in Nordrhein-Westfalen. There were only some minor deviations in the oral exams and in the “Prüfungsordnung”.
In the school year 2002/2003 we decided to shift the focus of the traineeship to “Foreign Trade” and the business environment in Hong Kong and in China. We introduced “Chinese Studies” as a new subject and established “Logistics and Transport Management” as a second stream.
The German “KMK-Rahmenlehrplan” is still the basis of the curriculum in Hong Kong, but it has been adjusted to meet the needs of the companies involved.
4. How does the Business College fit into the German Swiss International School structure?
The Business College is an integral part of GSIS and is an independent department within the German Stream.
5. Who is the principal, and how is it administered?
Annette Brandt-Dammann is principal of GSIS. He is a non-voting member of the BCC and gives any support needed.
6. Who delivers the training? What is his/her connection with the GSIS/German Industry and Commerce Hong Kong?
The Head of Business College is responsible for the theoretical training and he teaches most of the business-oriented subjects. In this school year, Business Administration, Accounting, English, Mandarin, Politics and Chinese Studies are all being taught by regular teachers from GSIS.
7. Who finances the scheme?
Remuneration to trainees from the training company:
HK$ 6,500.00 per month (Lower Level) since school year 2012/2013
HK$ 7,500.00 per month (Upper Level) since school year 2012/2013
School Fees: HK$ 35,340 per year (paid by the trainees – school year 2012/2013)
Contribution to GIC: HK$ 8,400 per year (paid by the companies)
8. What qualification is given at the end of the training? Is this qualification recognised in Hong Kong?
The certificate or “Diplom” is recognised and approved in Germany, Switzerland and the European Union.
The certificate is currently not recognised in Hong Kong but the GIC is in contact with various universities in Hong Kong and facilitates the trainees to find agreements with universities to study further in Hong Kong. With their certificate, students are able to get one year of a 3 years Bachelor course waived.
9. What is the time ratio between work and school?
The students’ week usually starts on Monday and ends on Friday. They have to attend school on 1.5 days, which means on the remaining 3.5 days they will have to work in their respective training companies. During school holidays the trainees work 5 days at their respective training company.
10. What language is the course conducted in, and what level of understanding of that language is required?
The lessons are taught in German, written test papers of the final examination as well as written tests within the classroom are in German, however trainees have the choice to answer in English.
The minimum German language proficiency for the trainees is to be able to read German and to follow a German discussion.
11. What kind of match is there between the schooling and the work experience?
Theoretical lessons include practical experience, and the training within the company is based on a training plan, which has to be sent to GIC for approval at the beginning of the apprenticeship.
12. What is the average profile/background of a trainee?
Most of the trainees come from Germany with the German Abitur, some with Mittlere Reife. For many it is their first time to living and working in East Asia.
A few of the trainees join from GSIS in Hong Kong or other German schools in the region. Some move to Hong Kong with their parents, and we also have Hong Kong Chinese students who come from one of the Hong Kong Universities with a bachelor degree.
The average student is aged 20 to 22.
13. Where do trainees live?
Most of the trainees live on their own in a small apartment or in a shared flat: on Lamma Island, in Kowloon, in Wan Chai, in the Mid-Levels, in Yuen Long, in the Western District or other places where accommodation is cheap and there is reliable transportation. Some trainees live with their parents.
Rental is not subsidised by the companies, so students need to be financially supported by the family. The GIC can assist in finding suitable accommodation.
14. What level of salary are trainees on, and how does that equate with the cost of living?
Monthly remuneration amounts to HK$ 6,500 in the first year, and HK$ 7,500 for the second year respectively. The salary does not equate with the cost of living, thus additional financial support (e.g. by the parents) is necessary. The trainees have to pay 5 % to the MPF.