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Quality Assurance in the German dual vocational system

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Quality assurance in the German dual vocational training system takes place at many levels and is closely linked to the long tradition of the system. The following outline focuses on the 11 main quality assurance elements illustrated in the BIBB publication “Quality assurance of company-based training in the dual system in Germany”.

  1. The consensus principle is based on the cooperation of government, business community and social partners who develop and implement VET standards. The system works succesfully as it is embedded within German society.
  2. A detailed reporting system is based on institutionalised research and advice. The Federal Institute of Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) is the institution that is in charge of completing these tasks. The most important products in this context are the BIBB VET Data Report, the VET standards, data and statistics.
  3. Continuous improvement of the system is achieved through modernisation mechanisms, research and development programmes and pilot projects
  4. Organisation of the system according to “Ausbildungsberuf (training occupation/skills areas)”:  „Ausbildungsberuf“ is a German term which usually is translated by the term "training occupation". It means a scientific, social and labour market-based construct and a category of order agreed by consensus between the social partners and the state. With the help of "Ausbildungsberufe" the selection and bundling of activities and the associated necessary qualifications is carried out. Mastery of the work tasks combined in a "Ausbildungsberuf" is the objective of the respective vocational training ("professional competence to act")"1.

VET Glossary

VET Data Report Germany

The Data Report is issued by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) and supplements the Report on Vocational Education and Training published by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) by providing a wealth of information and analysis relating to various aspects of the development of vocational education and training. The Data Report to accompany the Report on Vocational Education and Training is published annually.

Source: BIBB, Germany

VET Glossary

Training occupation

„Ausbildungsberuf“ is a German term which usually is translated by the term "training occupation". It means a scientific, social and labour market-based construct and a category of order agreed by consensus between the social partners and the state. With the help of "Ausbildungsberufe" the selection and bundling of activities and the associated necessary qualifications is carried out. Mastery of the work tasks combined in a "Ausbildungsberuf" is the objective of the respective vocational training ("professional competence to act")

Source: IAB

Source: “Quality assurance of company-based training in the dual system in Germany - An overview for practitioners and VET experts”, published by BIBB, 2017, p. 12.
  1. Work-based learning (practical orientation) guarantees that apprentices acquire skills that are relevant for the world of work. The phase of in-company training amounts to 70% of the apprenticeship. The curriculum for work-based learning (training regulations) are monitored and updated on a regular basis by a defined process under the lead management of the BIBB
  2. Career guidance (vocational orientation) helps young people to find their way within the vocational education system and the world of work.
  3. The system attaches great importance to the qualification of VET staff, i.e. the trainers in the companies and the VET teachers in schools.
  4. The suitability of the training venue is initiated as soon as a company registers a training contract with the chamber.
  5. The rights and obligations of the training contract between the company and the apprentice are regulated.
  6. The neutrality of examiners is an essential characteristic of quality assurance in the examination system. The principle is that those who provide training must not participate in the examination. For this reason, organisation of examinations is transferred to the chambers and is not carried out by the companies or vocational schools.
  7. Companies and vocational schools collaborate in the implementation of vocational education and training.

VET Glossary

Training regulation

There are currently around 330 training occupations in Germany that enjoy national state recognition. For all training occupations, there are training regulations that stipulate in a binding fashion what must be learned within the respective occupation. This provides trainers with an overview of all contents that they need to impart to their trainees during training. Company owners obtain the relevant training regulations from the chamber responsible for their company.

The aim of the training regulations is to ensure that all trainees receive good professional training with comparable contents, regardless of the company in which such training takes place. This enables them to apply for jobs anywhere at a later date, and company owners also know precisely what applicants have learned. The regulations provide state-recognised occupations with a structure. The aim wherever possible is for each trainee to learn the fundamental principles of an occupation before going on to acquire the respective technical knowledge and gather initial professional experience.
The training regulations include the

  • title of the training occupation,
  • duration of training (two, three, or three and a half years),
  • the minimum skills, competencies and knowledge that trainees should acquire (training profile),
  • the content and time structure of training (general training plan) and
  • the examination requirements.

The general training plan forms the basis for the company training plan, which parties providing training are required to draw up for their trainees and submit to the chamber responsible together with the training contract.

The learning contents stipulated by the training regulations constitute minimum requirements. It may be in the company’s interests to teach their trainees more, such as company-specific knowledge or special skills. In addition, the company providing training may amend its plan during training for operational reasons.
After all, it is not always possible to plan three years in advance.

Source: Jobstarter

VET Glossary


During training, trainees are required to take part in an intermediate examination if this is stipulated in the training regulations. The intermediate examination is conducted by the chamber responsible, which also issues examination invitations. The company and the vocational school use the intermediate examination to identify the status of trainee knowledge. The result of the intermediate examination should be taken into account during the course of ongoing training.

Training concludes with the final examination, which is also conducted by the relevant chamber.

Trainees are entitled to take the final examination if:

  • they have completed the period of training;
  • they have taken part in any intermediate examination prescribed;
  • they have properly maintained their report book.

It is frequently the case that the company will automatically receive a registration from the chamber responsible, which in all cases is required to make public announcement of examination dates. The party providing training and the trainee merely need to sign and return the form.

The examination normally comprises a written part, a practical part and/or an oral component. More detailed provisions are contained within the training regulations governing the respective occupation.

The aim of the examination is to ascertain whether candidates are in possession of the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies, and whether they are familiar with the learning contents imparted at the vocational school and are therefore in a position to exercise in practice the occupation in which training has taken place. Candidates who have passed the examination receive a final certificate from the chamber (this is referred to as a “journeyman certificate” in the craft trades). The examination can be repeated on two occasions by candidates who do not pass. In such circumstances, training time is extended at the request of the trainee until the next possible examination date but may not be extended for more than one year.

Trainees who display very good levels of performance during training may be granted early admission to the examination. A relevant application must be submitted to the chamber.

Source: Jobstarter

VET Glossary

Training contract

A legally binding agreement between an apprentice or trainee and an employer which defines the rights and responsibilities of each party. These include the employer guaranteeing to train the apprentice or trainee in the agreed occupation or training area, and to allow time off work to attend any required off-the-job training; and the apprentice or trainee agreeing to learn all aspects of the occupation or training area, and to work for the employer for a specified period. It supersedes the indenture system.

Source: NCVER 2013, Australia

Training contract in the context of the German VET System:
Prior to commencement of training, the parties providing training and the future trainees conclude a contract. If a trainee is aged under 18, the consent of the parents must be obtained in order to conclude the contract. The company training contract is concluded for a fixed term. It ends following completion of the contractually agreed duration of training or when the final examination is passed.
The contract states

  • the precise title of the training occupation,
  • the name and address of the company and of the trainee, the name of the trainer,
  • the point in time when training begins,
  • the duration of training,
  • how many hours the trainee will work,
  • the length of the probationary period (maximum permissible period of four months),
    the leave entitlement of the Trainee
  • and the amount of the training allowance, i.e. how much the trainee will receive per month.

The amount of remuneration paid must be appropriate. The primary point of reference is the collective wage agreement that applies to the occupation and region. Training advisors at the chambers frequently have so-called tariff lists for this purpose. The employers’ associations and specialist trade unions are also able to provide information on collective wage agreements.
The training allowance must be increased for each new year of training.

In addition to the training contract, companies are required to draw up a company training plan. This records what trainees should learn during which periods of time. It enables company owners, trainers and trainees to plan which stages of learning need to be integrated into the company work process at which times.

The company submits the training plan to the relevant chamber of commerce and industry or chamber of crafts and trades together with the training contract. The chamber supports and monitors training to ensure that conditions are fulfilled. It also conducts examinations.

Source: Jobstarter

VET Glossary

VET staff

VET Glossary

Work-based learning

Programs for both secondary and postsecondary students which provide opportunities to achieve employment-related competencies in the workplace. Work-based learning is often undertaken in conjunction with classroom or related learning, and may take the form of work placements, work experience, workplace mentoring, instruction in general workplace competencies, and broad instruction in all aspects of industry.

Source: NCVER 2013, Australia

VET Glossary

Quality assurance

Processes and procedures for ensuring that qualifications, assessment and programme delivery meet certain standards.

Source: ILO (SED) 2007, Global