Dual VET – Vocational Education and Training in Germany


Germany has had a strong economy and business landscape for many years now. This is the case for both big corporations
and SMEs, including skilled craft trade businesses. One of the most important foundations for this success is the continual training of skilled workers in the German dual VET system. The system is so-called because young people
are trained in a two-track system after they have finished school. Around 70% of their training time is spent
in a company in the sector in which they later want to work, and 30% at the vocational school. The company and school-based parts of the
training are coordinated in terms of content and regulated by vocational education and
training policy. Everyone gains from this:
The trainees are able to orient themselves with clearly-defined training standards. They learn occupations both in theory and
by simulation, and parallel to the workplace in real operational practice. Training and training qualifications are recognised
by the state, economy and society throughout the country. The foundation for professional and economic
success is thus laid. Since they are training, the employers themselves
are able to ensure that they always have enough skilled workers at hand. They are also able to partially adapt the
training content to the needs of their company. Last but not least, dual vocational education
and training is advantageous for the German state and society as a whole. In short: There are many winners in dual vocational
education and training “made in Germany”. But how exactly does dual vocational education
and training work? It enjoys a secure position in the German
VET system between general education and the labour market, and is an alternative to university-level
education and training. Before it begins, the adolescents decide on
one of approximately 330 recognised training occupations. Not all occupations enjoy the same demand,
however. Those who inform themselves in advance avoid
learning what “everybody else” learns and may therefore also discover the occupation
that really speaks to them. The companies advertise their open training
places, and the trainees acquaint themselves with potential companies and the training
they provide. They apply to the company that they find the
most appealing and, if their application is successful, conclude a training contract. The training contract defines the most crucial
details of the training: – duration
– the learning content schedule – the training remuneration, i.e. the trainee’s
“wage” – and holiday entitlements. The majority of this context is regulated
by law. Training can now begin. The trainee will learn on set weekdays at
the vocational school and at the company. While primarily general and basic specialist
knowledge is taught at the vocational school, specific work steps are learnt under real
working conditions at the company. Their work is usually already integrated in
“real” operational processes. After the training period stipulated for the
respective occupational profile, a final examination follows, in which the trainees must prove
their skills. Organised by the respective chamber, representatives
of the employer and employee, as well as state vocational school teachers, are involved in
the examination as members of the examination board. The training certificate is awarded if the
examination is passed. Many doors are now open to the fully trained. They can work in the occupation in which they
trained; two thirds even remain at their training company. Some add to their skills with a continuing
education programme, while others change to another profession. At present, almost half of all adolescents
of school-leaving age—more than 500,000 in total—complete dual vocational education
and training. Almost all of them work in the occupation
they trained in. Only very few are without a position after
training. More than 400,000 German companies actively
provide training and around two thirds of them take on “their” trainees at the end. The dual vocational education and training
system has a long-standing history in Germany and is being continuously improved. Each occupational profile has been and is
being continually adapted to meet changing societal and professional demands. A well-attuned and reliable system such as
this is based on the cooperation between reliable partners in a binding, legal framework. This framework is defined by German legislature:
It finances, oversees and inspects the public vocational school system. The Vocational Training Act regulates all
aspects that are not already covered by other laws. The legislature consults in detail with social
partners and the chambers for this reason. Within the dual vocational education and training
it has specific tasks and functions: The social partners, i.e. employer associations
and unions, develop the standards for company-based training in cooperation with the state, and
also negotiate the respective pay, for example. In addition, they oversee the progress of
the training and, as a member of the examination board, the results too. Besides the state as legislator and the social
partners, the chambers also play a crucial role. As the competent authorities, they advise,
test and qualify the companies providing training and their training personnel. They also organise the final examinations
for individual occupations. All of them are working on the further development
of standards in order to equip the training system for the future. They additionally provide diverse information
for young people who want to orient themselves before deciding on a training programme. Achieving sustainable economic and societal
success thanks to qualified skilled workers is not exclusive to Germany. In an adapted form, other countries can use
the principles of the German dual vocational and educational training system as a foundation
for a sustainable training system. Cooperation between politics, economy and
social partners Learning within the work process Adoption of national standards Qualified training personnel Institutionalised VET-research and -advice Together with the German Office for International Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training,
and in order to provide target-oriented advice to foreign institutions regarding dual vocational
training, the German Federal Government has created a competent contact, whose name is
also a call to action: GO…VET!

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