This paper examines the transitions made by lower secondary school leavers and intermediate secondary school leavers into vocational education and training in Germany. With the basis that boys have long been underperforming girls in school, the paper investigates the question of whether male adolescents continue to be similarly disadvantaged when transitioning into vocational education and training. A distinction must be drawn between the more male-orientated dual system of vocational education and training, which represents the most significant sector in terms of size, and the more female-orientated school-based occupational system, which is much less significant in terms of size.
The analyses reveal that male adolescents have better opportunities when entering company-based or dual education and training, while female adolescents enjoy advantages when entering school-based vocational education and training. When considering the wider picture—i.e., overall placement into vocational training that leads to full vocational qualification—male adolescents are not identified as more disadvantaged than female adolescents in terms of opportunities. However, while there is little difference in the placement opportunities between male and female adolescents with an intermediate school-leaving qualification, female adolescents with a maximum of a lower secondary school-leaving certificate face significantly worse prospects than comparable male adolescents.
Female adolescents leaving school with no more than a lower secondary school-leaving certificate can be regarded as the “losers” when transitioning into vocational education and training. It is our view that the disadvantage this group faces indicates a clear need for action in vocational education and training policy. Changes would appear to be appropriate in both dual and school-based education and training.
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