DEQA-VET: National VET Policy

National VET Policy

In Germany, vocational education and training (VET) is traditionally the educational pathway chosen by the great majority of young people. The VET system is based on a number of fundamental societal decisions:
  • By broad consensus, all school leavers should have access to initial vocational training;
  • In order to achieve this goal, a strategic concept was agreed with business owners to implement a cooperative system of initial vocational training (the “dual system”);
  • Within this cooperative model of VET, the public sector (government, schools) accepts the private sector as a partner on equal terms; the legal framework for this cooperative system is the foundational Vocational Training Act, which regulates the roles of the different actors.

Initial vocational education and training (IVET) in Germany takes place within state-recognised occupations requiring formal training (“training occupations”) governed by uniform nationwide standards. It teaches the occupational proficiency required for subsequent transition into the labour market. Continuing vocational education and training (CVET) plays a growing role as part of lifelong learning, enabling individuals to improve their occupational proficiency on a continuous basis. The state assumes a relatively minor regulatory and policymaking function.

The further development of vocational schools is aimed above all at improving training quality, although it is increasingly realized that schools need greater autonomy. One element of these efforts at reform is an increase in the financial autonomy of vocational schools via budgeting, i.e. global allocation of budgetary resources (ongoing non-monetary resources, but also increasingly staff funding and funding for investment) to the individual schools. This path is being followed with widely varying degrees of intensity in the individual Länder, depending not only on the issues to which the school administration attaches importance and the Land’s VET policy, but also not least on particular regional features and the demands made on vocational schools.

In the area of in-company training, against the background of the difficult situation on the market for training places in recent years, the burden has increasingly shifted from enterprise to public-sector financing. Here, how the situation develops will be crucially dependent on the extent to which in future the gap between supply and demand in this market is successfully closed.
Proposals for a radical reform of funding of vocational training have been drawn up by an expert commission “Funding Lifelong Learning” convened by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research which submitted its report in July 2004.

The report recommends a standard law on the promotion of learning which covers all the provisions for adult learners, with the exception of those covered by the Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB III). Another proposal by the committee of experts provides for adding the possibility of educational savings to the state assistance in the Wealth Creation Act. The aim is to give groups of people with low incomes who have hitherto stayed away from education special incentives to invest part of their income in lifelong learning.

(Source: U. Hippach-Schneider, M. Krause, Chr.Woll, Vocational Education and training in German -short description, ed. Cedefop (European Centre for the Development of Vocational training), Luxembourg 2007 (Panorama Series 138))


  • Country Report 2011
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  • Movie: Vocational Education and Training in Germany
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