VET Glossary

Terms of the German VET system

The glossary is a source for terms and definitions which are used in the field of vocational education and training. Emphasis is placed on its usage in the context of the German dual system. The VET Glossary is a work in progress and updated and expanded on an ongoing basis.

The German system of continuing vocational education and training can be defined as follows: Vocational further training generally requires a completed apprenticeship and/or appropriate relevant professional experience. The vocational training should open up the possibility for people to maintain their professional capacity in their current position/occupation (further training) (Anpassungsfortbildung) or to expand their professional capacity for professional advancement (advanced training) (Austiegsfortbildung).
There are thus two forms of continuing vocational training in the German system: further continuing training (receiving and adapting) and advanced continuing training (expanding and career advancement).

Advanced training is regulated by so called advanced training regulations which are similar to the training regulations in initial vocational education on a higher level. Learners who undergo official advanced trainings obtain certifciates which are recognized by the state.

Source: BIBB (German)


Education or training combining period 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.

Source: CEDEFOP 2014, Europe

Vocational assessment is the process of determining an individual’s interests, abilities and aptitudes and skills to identify vocational strengths, needs and career potential. Vocational assessment may use a variety of standardized techniques (e.g., tests) or nonstandardized approaches (e.g., interviews, observing people). Vocational assessment is part of the vocational guidance process and usually results in recommendations for training or employment.

Source: ILO

The Vocational Orientation Programme focusses on pupils attending schools of general education. Funding is provided for an analysis of potential (Potenzialanalyse), which usually takes place during the second half of Year 7, and for workshops in Year 8. The analysis of potential enables pupils to arrive at an initial assessment of their own predispositions and competences. Following this, the two-week workshops (Werkstatttage) provide them with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with at least three occupational fields.

Source: BOP

Apprentices/Trainees (Auszubildende) are persons who are undergoing training in a training occupation. In Germany in the past, young people in training were generally referred to as “Lehrlinge”, and this term continues to be used in the craft trades sector. Young people normally apply to enter training during their final year of general schooling, mostly from the beginning of the school year. At this point in time, applicants are predominantly aged between 16 and 19. 

Source: Jobstarter

A person undergoing training for an approved enterprise-based training occupation within an established period covered by an enterprise-based training agreement.

Source: TESDA 2010, Philippines

Systematic, long-term training alternating periods at the workplace and in an educational institution or training centre. The apprentice is contractually linked to the employer and receives remuneration (wage or allowance). The employer assumes responsibility for providing the trainee with training leading to a specific occupation.

Source: CEDEFOP 2014, Europe

A contract wherein a prospective employer binds himself to train the apprentice who, in turn, accepts the terms/conditions of training for a recognized apprenticeable occupation emphasizing the rights, duties and responsibilities of each party.

Source: TESDA 2010, Philippines

Within the German dual VET system an apprenticeship contract is defined as follows:

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


Verbal or written agreement binding a would-be apprentice and the prospective employer.

Source: UNEVOC/NCVER 2009, Global

Within the German dual VET system it is possible to do an apprenticeship on a part-time basis.

Upon a joint application by trainees and training employers, the competent body shall reduce the period of initial training if it is likely that the purpose of training will be achieved in the shorter period. In the event of legitimate interest, the application may also seek a reduction of the daily or weekly hours of training (part-time initial training).

Source: BBiG 2005, Germany