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 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

Vocational education and training, abbreviated as VET, sometimes simply called vocational training, is the training in skills and teaching of knowledge related to a specific trade, occupation or vocation in which the student or employee wishes to participate.

Vocational education may be undertaken at an educational institution, as part of secondary or tertiary education, or may be part of initial training during employment, for example as an apprentice, or as a combination of formal education and workplace learning.

Source: EU Commission (Eurostat) 2016, Europe

The German dual VET System defines the term vocational orientation as follows:

Vocational orientation is a process that has two sides. On the one hand, we have the young people who are seeking to orient themselves towards their own interests, competences and objectives. The other side consists of the requirements of the world of work, to which the young people are guided. Both of these sides constantly need to be rebalanced. Vocational orientation provision supports young people in mastering this process.

Source: BIBB


To provide the knowledge and skills to enter the economy through a general, broad orientation in vocational areas, as well as general learning in essential areas such as Language and Mathematics.

Source: SAQA 2013, South Africa

In 2008 the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched a programme entitled "Supporting vocational orientation in inter-company vocational training centres and comparable VET centres" (BOP), initially in the form of a pilot phase. The high degree of acceptance of the programme on the part of the stakeholders involved led to its full-scale adoption ahead of schedule in June 2010.
The objective is to offer to school pupils all over Germany a vocational orientation process that will enable them to develop a realistic idea of their own abilities and interests and to gather practical experience in a variety of occupational fields.

Source: BOP

When training takes place within the dual system of vocational education and training, the vocational schools act as partners to the companies providing training. At the vocational school, trainees acquire occupationally-related employability skills which encompass professional, social and personal competencies. In addition to this, trainees receive cross-cutting teaching which provides an occupationally-related expansion of the prior general education previously acquired. This particularly includes the areas of German language, foreign languages, politics, the economy, religion (ethics) and sport. A vocational school may also support company-based learning by providing practical training in an apprentice workshop.

Vocational schools are public institutions at which part-time attendance is mandatory. Different regulations exist in the various federal states as to who is subject to compulsory vocational school attendance. Mandatory part-time education at a vocational school usually extends over a period of three school years or continues until the end of the school year in which young people reach their 18th birthday. Trainees are required to attend vocational school for the whole of the duration of their training. The company providing training is required to register its trainees with the relevant vocational school, release them from their work duties in order to enable them to attend classes, and encourage attendance at vocational school.

Trainees usually attend vocational school for an average of one to two days and for at least 12 hours per week. Some vocational schools offer scheduled blocks of teaching which concentrate the periods of teaching. Whilst attending vocational school, trainees are always required to complete homework outside their daily training periods and school time.

Specialist classes are formed for trainees within an occupation who attend a local vocational school. If this is not possible, pupils in related training occupations are taught together or cross-regional specialist classes are established. If an occupation has only a very small number of trainees, specialist classes are formed at a federal state, cross-federal state or even national level. In such cases, trainees are housed in boarding facilities during the weeks in which scheduled blocks of teaching take place.

Source: Jobstarter

The German Vocational Training Act (BBiG) regulates vocational training preparation, vocational education and training (the dual system), advanced vocational training and vocational retraining. It thus forms the basis for company-based training.

The BBiG entitles companies to take responsibility for conducting vocational education and training, i.e. they are permitted to recruit and train trainees. The law stipulates the prerequisites and conditions for training within the companies. The BBiG applies to training in trade and industry, in the public sector and in the liberal professions. It covers only a few aspects of training in the craft trades sector, which is largely governed by the Crafts and Trades Regulation Code. Nevertheless, the provisions contained within the Crafts and Trades Regulations Code largely equate to those of the BBiG. All areas of training that come under the auspices of the company providing training are governed via the BBiG.

Vocational school teaching is regulated by the educational laws of the federal states. Harmonisation between the Federal Government and federal states takes place in various committees in order to avoid conflicts in training caused by different laws.
The most important regulations contained within the Vocational Training Act relate to the following aspects.

  • Contents of the training contract
  • Requirements regarding the suitability of companies and Trainers
  • The duty of a company to pay a training allowance
  • The rights and responsibilities of parties providing training and of Trainees
  • The necessity of training regulations to enable training to take place as planned
  • The conducting of examinations
  • The right of the trainee to receive a company reference at the end of Training
  • The organisation and monitoring of company-based training by the Chambers
  • Each training occupation has training regulations which set out the contents of the respective training in detail.

Source: Jobstarter