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Facts and figures
High proportion of adults with a vocational training qualification or a higher education entrance qualification
The highly developed system of education and training in Germany means that the proportion of the population with at least an upper secondary qualification (84%) is very high compared to the OECD average of 70%. The highest proportions in this regard are achieved by the Czech Republic (91%), Estonia (89%), the Russian Federation and the USA (88% respectively). One of the strengths of the German educational system is the dual system of vocational education and training. 60% of the working-age population have at least an upper secondary level qualification, whereas 24% hold a tertiary level qualification (institute of higher education, University of Applied Sciences and master craftsman qualifications). This is precisely in line with the European average, the overall OECD average being 27%. The rate achieved in the secondary sector in Europe is only 47% and as low as 43% across the OECD. Germany also displays high rates at ISCED 4 auf, i.e. in double qualifications at secondary level (e.g. upper secondary school leaving certificate plus a vocational qualification or two vocational qualifications). Accordingly, the proportion of persons without a vocational or upper secondary qualification, particularly problematic in terms of labour market policy, was only 16% in Germany, about half the level of the OECD and European averages of 30% and 29% respectively.
The aim is to continue to decrease this proportion, in particular by opening up the opportunity to obtain a vocational qualification to all young people, particularly those of lower ability. For this reason, at a Training Summit held in October 2008, the Federal Government and the federal states agreed to halve the proportion of school and training dropouts by 2015 and to put a range of measures in place for this purpose.
The federal states have decided to develop a support strategy for lower-ability pupils. With regard to the transition to vocational education and training, the federal states are seeking to enter into cooperation with companies and the employment agencies as early as during lower secondary education. A particular aim is to support young people from a migrant background and the socially disadvantaged. The action taken by the Federal Government includes using vocational preparation measures developed by the Federal Employment Agency to fund more detailed vocational orientation at schools and inter-company vocational training centres and structural measures aimed at improving the transition from school to work.
Action is still required in the case of higher education qualifications, an area in which Germany’s proportion of 16% of the 25 to 64 age group remains below the international comparative values of the OECD (20%) and the EU (18%). The highest proportions are achieved by Norway (32%), the USA (31%) and the Netherlands (29%). The expectation is that an increasing switch to a staged structure of higher education study, including in Germany, will lead to the earlier successful completion of higher education study courses by young people and will mean that the number of higher education dropouts will continue to fall.
A rise in qualifications in the tertiary sector, a leading position in doctoratesIn Germany there has been a pleasing development in the number of people obtaining a higher education qualification. Whereas in 1995 only 14% of an age cohort achieved a qualification in Tertiary Sector A (university or University of Applied Sciences degree), the figure had risen to 18% in 2000 and to 23% by the year 2007.
The OECD average increased from 20% to 39% during the same period. Only Austria (22%) and Turkey (18%) recorded lower levels than Germany. The countries with the highest rates in this regard are Finland, Poland and Iceland, all of which have proportions higher than 50%. Notwithstanding this, consideration needs to be accorded to the fact that the current rise in the number of higher education entrants in Germany will not be reflected in a corresponding increase in qualifications for some years to come. Account also needs to be taken of the circumstance that many higher level qualifications obtained at institutes of higher education (ISCED 5A) in other countries are in Germany traditionally acquired at ISCED 5B within the vocational training system (trade and technical schools, master craftsman training). Vocational training at companies and vocational schools is a major pillar of the German educational system.
The fostering up-and-coming academic talent is of great significance in terms of securing the rising requirement for highly qualified skilled workers and future innovative capability. This is an area in which Germany is well positioned. The country occupies a leading ranking for the numbers of students completing further research programmes (usually doctorates). 2.3% of each age cohort achieve such a qualification, a figure bettered only by Portugal (3.7%), Sweden and Switzerland (each 3.3%) and Finland (2.9%). The OECD average is 1.5%. This result shows that research and teaching at the highest level is taking place in Germany. The Federal Government is using a series of measures to support young academic talent as part of its ongoing programme and project funding and is also providing considerable assistance via the institutional financing of academic research and placement organisations. The Federal Report on the Funding of Young Academic Research Talent (BuWiN) provides a summary of the support given in Germany in this regard and information on reform measures undertaken to ensure further improvement.
(Extracts from: OECD-Veröffentlichung “Bildung auf einen Blick” - Wesentliche Aussagen in der Ausgabe 2009 (OECD publication "Education at a glance" – main statements made in the 2009 edition). Federal Ministry of Education and Research/KMK, 2010) (in German)
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