The German vocational education and training system, known as the dual training scheme, is highly recognized worldwide due to its combination of theory and training embedded in a real-life work environment.
The dual system is firmly established in the German education system. The main characteristic of the dual system is cooperation between for the most part small and medium sized companies, on the one hand, and public vocational schools, on the other. This cooperation is regulated by law.
The Vocational Training Act of 1969, which was amended in 2005, introduced this tight-knit alliance between the Federal Government, the federal states (Länder) and companies with a view to providing young people with training in occupations that are recognized nation-wide and documented accordingly through certificates issued by a competent body, i.e. chamber of industry and commerce or chamber of crafts and trades respectively.
The German dual system offers an excellent approach to skill development, covering initial vocational education and training, further vocational education and training, careers, employability, occupational competence and identity. Thanks to the dual system, Germany enjoys low youth unemployment and high level skills.
In Germany, about 50 percent of all school-leavers undergo vocational training provided by companies which consider the dual system the best way to acquire skilled staff.
There are currently around 330 officially recognized training occupations. Employer organizations and trade unions are the drivers when it comes to updating and creating new training regulations and occupational profiles or modernizing further training regulations.
As a result, training, testing and certificates are standardized in all industries throughout the country. This assures that all apprentices receive the same training regardless of region and company. Moreover, employers trust in these certificates as they express what an individual knows and is able to do.
Businesses that take part in the dual training scheme consider vocational training to be the best form of personnel recruitment. Training companies do not only save on recruitment costs but also avoid the latent risk of hiring the wrong employee for the job. Investments in first-class training are a key factor for success in an increasingly competitive world.
The main benefit for apprentices, in turn, is that they receive market-relevant training that improves their chances on the labour market as it responds to the challenge of constantly updating and upgrading skills due to innovations in the digital age while simultaneously broadening their social and democratic participation.
There is a growing awareness across Europe and all over the world that excellent work-based vocational education and training is vital for competitiveness and social participation. Demand from other countries for cooperation with Germany in this area remains high. To this end, the BMBF supports, among others, the European Alliance for Apprenticeships initiative launched by the European Commission.
Together with the group of countries with a dual system (Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark), Germany provides instruments and consultation services to help implement dual training principles in interested countries. The development of high quality vocational education and training is also the guiding principle of bilateral cooperation under the Berlin Memorandum of December 2013 with Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Slovakia and Latvia.
The BMBF is also closely cooperating with the OECD in the context of work-based learning.