Germany’s dual system of vocational education and training (VET) is a very simple, cost-effective and inclusive model. The practical training (approx. 70-80 percent of training duration) takes place in companies, in the real processes of business and production. This training is based on a compulsory curriculum, which is adapted to the conditions of the training company and is monitored and controlled by the respective Chambers, who also arrange for the interim and final examinations (comparable to Sectoral Skill Councils). This in-house training is guided and imparted by certified corporate trainers. The ‘apprentices’ undergoing training sign a vocational training contract with the company (legally equivalent to a labour contract under labour laws) and are paid a training salary by them.
The theoretical part of the training (approx. 20-30 percent of training duration) is taught in vocational schools, run by the state governments. The system proves advantageous for all stakeholders.
Neither the government has to equip the vocational schools with expensive machinery necessary for practical training suited to industrial needs nor does it has to pay the highly skilled in-company trainers (certified foreman). It has to only guarantee a fitting theoretical training in vocational schools with well-trained teachers 1-2 days a week. This saves the cost of investing into equipment and machinery as well as into trainers just for training purposes.
Companies train students in the real working processes, within the actual production cycle. The competitive business scenario makes it essential that companies be well equipped with state-of-the-art machinery. They also need to redevelop procedures of production at all times. Therefore the companies already have the equipment, which would be too expensive for vocational schools only for training purposes. Companies also have to train and employ certified corporate trainers within the company. All costs incurred by companies engaged in VET are considered as an investment. While the students are trained, they also become more productive and contribute to the creation of wealth; and the company can look to getting an early return on investment. Additionally, after the examinations, companies who take in their apprentices have well-trained and educated workers who know the company and are skilled according to its needs.
The companies engaged in VET are constantly involved with the vocational training departments of the Chambers for upgrading and modernisation of curricula.
Young Germans receive a state-of-the-art, market-oriented and demand-driven vocational education, irrespective of their social background. Their employability is high and their prospects at the labour market as well.
The unions also play their part in the field of vocational training. They take part in developing and redeveloping professions and curricula, they negotiate the training salaries as part of collective contracts for an industry, and the elected works councils also keep an eye on the practical training within the company.