Project to internationally promote vocational training

The German Mittelstand (a socio-economic model comparable to the middle class) as well as craftsmanship in general, form the backbone of the German economy. For many emerging and developing nations, vocational training provides an opportunity for positive economic and consequently political development. At the same time, the apprenticeship system faces enormous challenges. Not only in Germany, but above all in emerging and developing nations, fewer and fewer school graduates are choosing vocational trainings over university degrees.

With this in mind, the Westerwelle Foundation launched a project to find innovative ways to internationally promote apprenticeships and vocational training. Together with Sinal do Vale and The DO School, the Westerwelle Foundation invited 17 fellows to Brazil and challenged them to come up with ideas and concepts to make vocational training more attractive in developing countries. The objective was to enable such nations to improve their vocational training systems without having to first meet the numerous preconditions and requirements that are typical for the German “Dual System of Vocational Training.”

To conclude the project, the fellows presented their final concept, the “UpNetwork”. This network’s goal is to bring together youth with enterprises and innovative solutions. As a global platform, the UpNetwork is supposed to identify training opportunities in skills relevant to innovative industries and to subsequently pass on these opportunities to local institutions, so-called “UpSites”. The latter will offer training programmes and connect youths with local enterprises.

The UpNetwork will promote a form of vocational training that strives to meet the necessities of potential employers. In this way, the UpNetwork seeks to contribute to the fight against global youth unemployment.


  • 17 young entrepreneurs from 14 different countries worked together for 10 weeks on the Sinal do Vale campus in Brazil. They devised concrete measures to internationally promote vocational training. Their mission was to find sustainable and scalable ideas that could be implemented in different national settings.
  • Afterwards, the fellows returned to their home countries to launch their own ventures. During a 10-month period they were supported by The DO School through skills and methods trainings, a mentorship programme, and advice from their peers within The DO School network.
  • Final concept: “Up Network” – a global network that brings together youth, enterprises, and innovative industries on a local level.