Continuing education and training in the German VET system

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.

Continuing education and training in the German VET system

Continuing training is playing an increasingly important role in improving employability. It is characterised by a wide variety of providers (a training market) and a comparatively low degree of regulation by the state. Only a small part of provisions lead to formal qualifications regulated by the Vocational Training Act, such as master craftsman/foreman/ certified supervisor, technical engineer, and certified senior clerk qualifications (Meister, Techniker, Fachwirt). Courses to prepare for these advanced level qualifications are offered by chambers or schools (Fachschulen, master craftsmen schools). Access to the respective assessment usually requires several years of practice in the related occupation.

Continuing education plays an important role in lifelong learning

Workers who are well-qualified within their occupation can make considerable progression as an expert within their particular specialist field, especially if they undergo relevant advanced training. In Germany, many senior jobs are held by persons with vocational qualifications.

In other countries, such positions would be filled by higher education graduates. Foremen manage construction sites, and master craftsmen can acquire or start up their own business. Almost 200,000 craft trade companies in Germany are seeking a successor to take over by the year 2020.

Dual training offers a wide range of development opportunities, both during the period of initial VET and in particular upon completion of the training programme.

These include the following.

  • Additional qualifications supplement initial VET by including extra contents and may be acquired during or after training, e.g. certificates in the commercial sector, IT qualifications, knowledge of foreign languages.
  • Updating training enables employability skills to be retrained and adapts them to meet new requirements in the workplace.
  • Upgrading training extends employability skills into new task areas and offers the chance to climb the career ladder by acquiring qualifications such as certified senior clerk, technician or master craftsman.
  • Retraining for a new work activity comes into effect when the occupation in which training has initially taken place can no longer be exercised.

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