Young people with the lower secondary school leaving certificate – chances of progression to dual vocational education and training
Stephan Kroll, Alexandra Uhly
Particularly for young people with the lower secondary school leaving certificate, dual vocational education and training continues to be “the route” to a vocational qualification1. This makes it all the more significant to investigate how many such school leavers succeed in progressing to dual vocational education and training and how their chances of progression develop over the course of time2.
It is frequently the case in this regard that so-called arithmetical progression rates are calculated by using statistics as a basis for relating the number of those commencing training to the number of those completing general schooling. Nevertheless, there are a number of pitfalls in calculating such seemingly simple indicators. The issues that need to be borne in mind are explained below.
Table: School leavers and entrants to dual vocational education and training with a lower secondary school leaving certificate (2007–2012)
On the choice of an adequate progression figure
In order to determine the progression rate of school leavers, we initially need the figure of those who progress to a course of dual vocational education and training, i.e. commence dual VET (in accordance with the Vocational Training Act, BBiG, or the Crafts and Trades Regulation Code, HwO,) for the first time.
The number of newly concluded training contracts, often designated the training entrant figure, is frequently incorrectly used for this purpose. Training contracts are, however, also concluded if trainees change occupation or company, in the case of so-called “follow-up contracts” or in the event of multiple training courses. Analyses conducted on the basis of the Vocational Education and Training Statistics show that at least 13 percent of newly concluded contracts were not the commencement of a course of dual vocational education and training (cf. UHLY 2014). Of the contracts newly concluded by young people in possession of the lower secondary school leaving certificate, as many as 17 percent do not represent initial entry to the dual system. Using the figure for all newly concluded training contracts would significantly overstate the proportion of progressions made by school leavers. For this reason, the progression rates below are calculated on the basis of the training entrant figure given in line e) of the Table. This represents 83 percent of the extrapolated figure of newly concluded contracts (cf. line d) of the Table).
On the choice of an adequate school leaver figure
With which school leaver figure should these progression figures be compared? Because general school leaving qualifications are not only acquired at general schools, alongside those who have formally completed such schools (KMK-statistic), account should also be taken of those who have obtained a lower secondary school leaving certificate within the so-called transitional sector (account “Integration into training” Integrated Training Reporting System).
Annual progression rates are misleading
If a progression rate per year is calculated in this way, we arrive at a rate of 67.2 percent for 2007 and a rate of 82.3 percent for 2012. Does this indicate that the chances of progression of school leavers with the lower secondary school leaving certificate are rising significantly? The strong rise in the arithmetical annual progression rates is mainly the result of a decrease in the annual numbers of school leavers and does not mean that chances of progression are increasing accordingly because those commencing training in a given year do not only originate from the school leaver cohort of this year. The BIBB Transition Survey shows that only 35 percent of young people who have achieved no qualification higher than the lower secondary school leaving certificate succeed in making the progression to company-based vocational education and training within the first five months of leaving general schooling (cf. EBERHARD et al. 2013). Even in the fifth year following acquisition of the school leaving qualification, 26 percent have still not progressed (cf. Figure). Each year, therefore, there is demand for training places both from current school leavers and from those who have not succeeded in making the progression in previous years3.
For this reason, such progression rates should not be calculated on the basis of annual data. In order nevertheless to calculate a rough estimation of the extent of progressions, the only progression rate used should be one that is based on average values from several years . The minimum period over which an average should be taken is five years. Because the training entrant figure has only been known for a relatively small number of years up until now, we merely calculate an overall average for the years 2007 to 2012. The average progression rate is 76 percent, i.e. about three quarters of school leavers with a lower secondary school qualification progress to dual VET.
Figure: Duration of progression to company-based vocational education and training for young people with no qualification higher than the lower secondary school certificate
Making better use of existing areas of potential
As presented above, such rates can only arrive at an approximate determination of how many of the school leavers progress to dual vocational education and training at some point. Transitional problems, which emerge when progression extends over a longer period of time, cannot be mapped in this way. Consideration also needs to be accorded to the fact that not all progressions result in successful completion of VET going forwards. Of the young adults aged between 20 and 34 and in possession of a lower secondary school leaving certificate, about 32 percent failed to achieve a formal vocational qualification (cf. BRAUN/SHANDOCK/ WELLER 2014, p. 288). The improvement of chances of progression and a reduction in the proportion of those who do not achieve a vocational qualification after entering training thus offer considerable potential in terms of countering the feared shortage of skilled workers whilst at the same time enhancing the employment and life chances of individuals.
This is revealed in their occupational preferences as well as also being contingent on the fact that few alternative training pathways are open to them (cf. ENGGRUBER/ULRICH 2014, p. 12).
The usual indicators for training market analysis are not used for this purpose (see here indicators for progression to dual vocational education and training: www.bibb.de/de/2041.php), because the school leaving qualification of trainees concluding a new training contract is not included within the scope of the BIBB survey as of 30 September.
Because the Vocational Education and Training Statistics do not survey the year in which the school leaving qualification was acquired, the precise reference parameter cannot be determined.
BRAUN, U.; SCHANDOCK, M.; WELLER, S. I.: Junge Erwachsene ohne abgeschlossene Berufsausbildung [Young adults who have not completed vocational education and training]. In: BIBB (Ed.): Data Report to accompany the 2014 Report on Vocational Education and Training. Bonn 2014, pp. 285-290
EBERHARD, V. et al.: Perspektiven beim Übergang Schule – Berufsausbildung [Perspectives at the transition from school to vocational education and training]. Wissenschaftliche Diskussionspapiere [Academic Research Discussion Papers] Issue 142. Bonn 2013
ENGGRUBER, R.; ULRICH, J. G.: Schwacher Schulabschluss – und dennoch rascher Übergang in Berufsausbildung? [Making a rapid transition to vocational education and training despite a poor school leaving qualification?] Wissenschaftliche Diskussionspapiere [Academic Research Discussion Papers] Issue 154. Bonn 2014
STATISTISCHES BUNDESAMT [Federal Statistical Office]: Integrierte Ausbildungsberichterstattung. Anfänger, Teilnehmer und Absolventen im Ausbildungsgeschehen nach Sektoren/Konten und Ländern [Integrated Training Reporting System. Training entrants, training participants and those completing training within the training system by sectors/accounts and federal states]. Wiesbaden 2014
UHLY, A.: Neuabschlüsse in der Berufsbildungsstatistik (Erhebung zum 31.) [Newly concluded contracts in the Vocational Education and Training Statistics (survey as of 31 December)] In: BIBB (Ed.): Data Report to accompany the 2014 Report on Vocational Education and Training. Bonn 2014, pp. 115-126
Research Associate in the “Vocational Training Supply and Demand/Training Participation” Section at BIBB
Dr., Research Associate in the “Vocational Training Supply and Demand/Training Participation” Section at BIBB
Translation from the German original (published in BWP 1/2015): Martin Stuart Kelsey, Global Sprachteam Berlin