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Internationally, Germany’s VET (vocational education and training) system is recognized as a successful model, largely because of the dual system, which leads to high-quality vocational qualifications and enables smooth education-to-work transitions. Although it is definitely at the heart of the German VET system the dual system does not cover all aspects of the German VET system. There have been 490.267 students in the dual system but also 225.590 students who study in so called full-time vocational schools in 2017 (cf. VET Data Report Germany 2017, p. 90). The complete German VET system consists of the elements described below.
In school-based (vocational and technical) programmes, instruction takes place (either partly or exclusively) in educational institutions. This includes special training centres for vocational education run by public or private authorities or enterprise-based special training centres if these qualify as education institutions. These programmes can have an on-the-job training component, i.e., a component of some practical experience in the workplace.
Education or training combining periods in an educational institution or training centre and in the workplace. The alternance scheme can take place on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Depending on the country and applicable status, participants may be contractually linked to the employer and/or receive a remuneration. (Also referred to as Alternance training).
Vocational orientation takes place on the level of compulsory education within the German education system. Early vocational orientation and the fostering of cross-cutting core skills help ensure a seamless transition from school to the working world.
The dual system, the central element of the German VET system, is called “dual” because training takes place at two learning venues: in the company and at the vocational school. Apprentices are employed during the apprenticeship by the Company.
Apart from the dual systems, school-based initial training is the main form of training in some sectors like the health sector. This school-based approach is supplemented by several internships and practical stages in companies. However, apprentices are not employed by a company.
Dual study programmes were created as a form of educational provision offering both an academic and a practical vocational qualification. This system is aimed at supporting learning transfer and hence achieving a benefit over purely academic or purely hands-on forms of initial vocational training.
Continuing vocational education and training takes lifelong learning into account and is the classical field for courses to deepen and supplement vocational knowledge, competencies and skills. In practice, a distinction is made between retraining, advanced training and adaptation training.
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