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VET in Germany – A successful model

Vocational education and training (VET) in Germany is based on close cooperation between the State, companies and social partners.

Germany’s VET is a successful model, largely based on the dual system (apprenticeship) leading to high-quality vocational qualifications, valued on the labour market. Apprenticeship enables smooth education-to-work transitions, resulting in low youth unemployment: in 2019, 5.8% of those aged 15 to 24 versus 15.1% in the EU-27.

Vocational education and training (VET) in Germany is based on close cooperation between the State, companies and social partners. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is responsible for general VET policy issues and has a coordinating role for all training occupations.

The BMBF works closely with the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). BIBB conducts research, moderates the process of developing the training regulations and plays
a crucial advisory role for VET policy. The federal states (Länder) are in charge of the school-based part of VET. Social partners’ contribution is important at different levels.

Upper secondary VET

The apprenticeship programme (dual system) is the main pillar of upper secondary VET.

It is mostly offered at EQF level 4 (about 50 programmes at EQF level 3) and covers about 330 occupations in various economic sectors. Programmes usually last three years (two years for EQF level 3 programmes) and combine two learning venues, companies and vocational schools (work-based learning share is approximately 75%). There are no basic access requirements, but an apprenticeship contract must be concluded between a learner and a company. Enterprises bear the costs of company-based training and pay learners remuneration. Those passing the final examination carried out by the chambers are qualified as certified skilled professionals.

Parallel to apprenticeships, upper secondary VET programmes are offered in vocational schools at EQF levels 2 to 4. These include:
• school-based VET programmes, duration
one to three years, leading, for example, to
a qualification in the health sector such as
a nurse. The minimum entrance requirement is the lower secondary school leaving certificate;
• general education programmes with vocational orientation, duration two to three years, leading to the general higher education entrance qualification. The minimum entrance requirement is the intermediate school leaving certificate.

Young people with learning difficulties, handicap or insufficient German language skills have the possibility to attend different transition programmes: the prevocational training (lower secondary school leaving certificate can be acquired) or basic vocational training year.

At post-secondary level, specialised programmes are offered at EQF levels 4 to 5, lasting one to three years. They build on the intermediate school leaving certificate or initial VET and lead to entrance qualifications for universities or provide direct access to the labour market.

Tertiary VET

At tertiary level, persons with vocational qualifications can acquire advanced vocational qualifications at EQF levels 5 to 7, contributing greatly to the attractiveness of the VET pathway. Those at EQF level 6 (bachelor professional, e.g. Meister) entitle graduates to exercise a trade independently, to hire and train apprentices, and to enrol in subject-related academic bachelor programmes. Graduates of the bachelor professional can continue at EQF level 7 (master professional). These qualifications also support the acquisition of middle and top management positions in companies. Preparation courses are offered by chambers or schools. Access to the respective assessment generally requires several years of practice in the related occupation.

Advanced vocational programmes are offered at EQF 6, lasting one and a half to four years. Entrance requirements include specific vocational qualification and work experience. They lead
to an advanced vocational qualification (such
as technician, educator) and give access to the relevant field of study.

Dual study programmes are offered at EQF levels 6 to 7 by different higher education institutions. They provide a blend of academic and vocational training, in which in-company training is an important element (share of at least 40 to 50%). Some of them lead to double qualifications (vocational qualification and bachelor or master degree). Enterprises bear the costs of company-based training and pay learners a wage based on the contract.

Continuing VET

Continuing training is playing an increasingly important role in improving employability by upskilling and reskilling in line with the digital and ecological transition. It is characterised by a wide variety of training providers and a low degree of State regulation. State incentives are in place to increase participation in CVET.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Spotlight on VET Germany | Cedefop

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