In view of the high youth unemployment rates in many states of the European Union it is assumed that “apprenticeship” is a key to providing young people with direct access to the labour market. Furthermore, apprenticeship is viewed as a sustainable model for an education system which takes the needs of the labour market into consideration and uses them for comprehensive competence development based on an occupational standard. This is profitable for the enterprises: Graduates of apprenticeships are broadly qualified and “vocationally proficient” when they take up their jobs. There are no break-in costs and no need for “training on the job” by induction at recruitment time. This applies to Germany to the same extent as to Denmark. In many cases the German and Danish VET systems are presented as prototypes of dual apprenticeship systems which are worth copying. This paper addresses policy makers, researchers and practitioners by providing insights in different dual apprenticeship systems and by highlighting alternatives as far as the main features of dual apprenticeship systems are concerned.The paper is aimed to give a general overview of the basic aspects of an apprenticeship system and describes some trends as to the establishment and development of apprenticeship systems. The paper provides a number of examples from EU countries but also makes relevant detours to other countries to illustrate the wide range of apprenticeship systems. Focus is placed on countries where apprenticeship constitutes an important part of the formal VET system.
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