The German VET System

In this section you find information on the German VET system – on its success factors, its structure and components as well as on challenges and future topics for the further development of the system.

Internationally, Germany’s VET (vocational education and training) system is recognized as a successful model, largely because of the dual system, which leads to high-quality vocational qualifications and enables smooth education-to-work transitions. Although it is definitely at the heart of the German VET system the dual system does not cover all aspects of the German VET system. There have been 490.267 students in the dual system but also 225.590 students who study in so called full-time vocational schools in 2017 (cf. VET Data Report Germany 2017, p. 90). The complete German VET system consists of the elements described below.

Vocational orientation

Vocational orientation takes place on the level of compulsory education within the German education system. Early vocational orientation and the fostering of cross-cutting core skills help ensure a seamless transition from school to the working world.

read more

The dual system

The dual system, the central element of the German VET system, is called “dual” because training takes place at two learning venues: in the company and at the vocational school. Apprentices are employed during the apprenticeship by the company.

read more

School-based initial training

Apart from the dual systems, school-based initial training is the main form of training in some sectors like the health sector. This school-based approach is supplemented by several internships and practical stages in companies. However, apprentices are not employed by a company.

read more

Dual study programmes

Dual study programmes were created as a form of educational provision offering both an academic and a practical vocational qualification. This system is aimed at supporting learning transfer and hence achieving a benefit over purely academic or purely hands-on forms of initial vocational training.

read more

Higher education study programmes

Higher education programmes are mostly academic programmes but some of them offer vocational elements that link them to the vocational education system and the world of work.

read more

Continuing education

Continuing 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.

read more


This section exclusively informs about the German VET system. For information about apprenticeship training places or recognition of foreign qualifications, please see www.make-it-in-germany.com/en and www.recognition-in-germany.de.