Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund

Vocational training in Germany

Germany’s vocational training model is the only one of its kind in the world. Two aspects particularly differentiate it from many training systems in other countries.

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The dual education system

What sets it apart initially is the fact that training is conducted both in the workplace and vocational schools. Students thus receive practical training in the workplace while simultaneously studying at the vocational school. There, they are taught theoretical content relevant to the subject of their training profession as well as more general subjects such as foreign languages or politics. Trainees are officially excused from workplace training during the hours they spend at the vocational school. The benefit of the dual education system: the vocational school provides tuition in areas that not every workplace may be able to adequately teach itself. At the same time, practical training based on set curricula is given in the workplace. There are also sometimes practical elements of training that every trainee should learn but not every workplace is in a position to teach. In these cases, what is known as “out-of-house training” is available, particularly in trade-related training professions. The aim is to ensure that every trainee has acquired the same skills by the end of their courses – irrespective of what their training workplace is itself in a position to teach.

Social partners shape the training professions

The second unique feature of the German training system: the social partners (i.e. trade unions and employer associations) have a say in deciding which training professions are offered and what content is provided. At the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), committees made up of employer and union representatives create and develop training professions and content. There is therefore no training profession in Germany to which the trade unions have not contributed.