Ludger Deitmer had his premiere with VETNET at the ECER 2003 in Hamburg. Whilst his institute – ITB, University of Bremen – had a long track record in VETNET activities and European projects, Ludger had not been directly involved so far. However, this was compensated by a rapid start. To the VETNET colleagues Ludger was already known as an organiser, so he was the natural choice as the ‘local’ VETNET program chair for that conference. This task was not unimportant because VETNET had a visitor from the European Commission, DG Research, and there were negotiations going on about the role of vocational education and training (VET) in the EU 6th Framework Program for Research and Development. Ludger managed his program chair duties well and was elected as a new member to the VETNET board – and directly as the VETNET convenor.
In ECER 2003 the VETNET opening was arranged as a panel discussion on the role of VET in European research cooperation (involving VET researchers and the Commission representative). In the following conferences during his period Ludger worked closely with the local program chairs to develop the opening sessions - and other joint VETNET sessions – as highlights of the VETNET program. As such we remember the following:
- At ECER 2004 in Crete the opening panel on the prospect of VET-PISA with Nikitas Patiniotis, Rainer Bremer and Jenny Hughes;
- At ECER 2005 in Dublin the opening keynote of James Wickham on the new European gospel of labour market policies and the panel of the Maastricht study on attainment of educational goals of the Lisbon summit involving Tom Leney, Anneke Westerhuis, Annie Bouder and Felix Rauner;
- At ECER 2006 in Geneve the keynote of Rolf Dubs on the Swiss developments in VET and VET research and the subsequent debate on European qualification framework (EQF) involving Jörg Markowitsch and Georg Spöttl;
- At ECER 2007 in Ghent the keynote of Ides Nicaise on European and Belgian policy developments in education and training and the joint panel to reflect the 10 years presence of VETNET network at ECER (involving several colleagues).
- At ECER 2008 in Göteborg the keynote of Per-Erik Ellström on institutionalisation of interactive innovation research in education (with response from Bernd Hofmaier) and the special VETNET event presenting journals in the field of VET.
- At ECER 2009 in Wien the symposium on the role of European and National Qualification Frameworks involving Lorenz Lassnigg, Jordi Planas, Michael Young and David Raffe.
- At ECER 2010 in Helsinki the keynote of Johanna Lasonen and Marianne Teräs on the role of VET in integrating migrants into working life and opening alternative career prospects.
- At ECER 2011 in Berlin the transformation of the VETNET opening event into a participative workshop moderated by the new VETNET convenor Michael Gessler.
During Ludger’s period as the VETNET Convenor the engagement of VETNET members in the peer review process was opened to broader participation (beyond the board). Also, the board worked several times with the description of VETNET and the main areas of research to be covered by the network. In this context there was a debate, whether the name of the network should be changed, but the conclusion was to keep the network grounded on the field of VET. However, the interface areas with neighbouring disciplines were highlighted in the updates of the research areas.
Also, Ludger’s period was characterised by several cooperation initiatives to promote the visibility of European VET research. The key initiative during those years was to launch a new journal for the field of VET research with a prominent publishing house. The first attempt had been made already before Ludger’s time. Now, a working group was set up to prepare the plans and to negotiate with publishers. Due to intervening factors this initiative was delayed and then decoupled from the VETNET network. Yet, the network had got its initial training for taking action at a later phase.
In a similar way during Ludger’s period VETNET got involved into cooperation with affiliated networks as co-organiser of joint events (e.g. the TVET teacher education workshop with UNESCO-Unevoc Centre in Hamburg 2004 and with INAP network on innovative apprenticeships on different occasions). Also, within ECER at that time had some joint events with neighbouring networks (e.g. with the Teacher Education network in Ghent 2007 and with the Quality of Education network in Berlin 2011).
Further initiatives that have been implemented during Ludger’s period have been the creation and reshaping of the VETNET website(s). The initial website (supported by a Wales-based software-house) was prepared for the ECER 2004 in Crete. It provided a platform for presenting the VETNET program (at the time when EERA website was not yet developed so far). For the ECER 2005 in Dublin the website was also equipped by VETNET conference blog (which was used for conference documentation in Dublin 2005 and Geneve 2006). For ECER 2009 in Wien the VETNET website was reshaped as a Mixxt-hosted network site (supported by Graham Attwell). This new site was lighter to maintain and provided more functionality for network members to set up their profiles and participate (e.g. via blogging). Parallel to the development of these sites VETNET continued its cooperation with WIFO Research Forum and Sabine Manning to publish the annual VETNET proceedings on WIFO site.
All this gives a picture of Ludger as a teamworker and promoter of joint community-building initiatives. With different teams, working groups and cooperation relations Ludger has mobilised his colleagues in vicinity and afar to work together. In a similar way when Ludger had served his terms of office he paved the way to his successors to join in as a team member to support further initiatives – the newly established VETNET journal “International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET)” and the global network “Internationalisation of VET research” under the auspices of World Educational Research Association (WERA).