The high number of young people joining the German apprenticeship system and of enterprises involved demonstrates its attractiveness. Apprenticeship contributes to build up a well-qualified skilled manpower and is traditionally highly viewed in the German civil society.
Win-win situation for companies and apprentices
Through training apprentices companies can ensure their supply with qualified and committed skilled staff. It is also attractive to companies since it signals responsibility and social prestige, it contributes to the reduction of the age of the staff, and it is cost efficient. The attractiveness of apprenticeship for young persons will depend upon the type of school they attend, the branch and occupation they train for, the apprenticeship salary, and the participation in guidance activities while being at school.
Statistical data show that the unemployment rate of apprenticeship graduates upon graduation remains low in compared to other choices of education and in comparison to statistics from other Member States. Advanced training occupations offer an attractive career path for apprenticeship graduates. Depending on the sector and the occupation advanced training graduates have comparable income and career chances to higher education graduates on Bachelor level.
The institutionalized involvement of social partners and the national standards on content and implementation secure the quality of the system and therefore also foster its attractiveness. The excellence of apprenticeship highly depends upon the content and long-term relevance of training regulations to labour market changes. They are designed so as to encompass future changes such for instance digitalisation or internationalisation of work processes.
To take up these challenges the Federal Ministry for Education and Research launch in 2019 the German initiative ‘Innovations for an excellent VET (InnoVET) to establish future oriented innovation clusters in VET. Excellence is indirectly defined as responding to labour market and companies’ needs, prompting interest of youth to enter VET and ensuring equivalence (Gleichwertigkeit) between dual and academic/school-based education. Quality in the initiative should be ensured by involving State or Federal level decision makers and the further stakeholders in the projects. The selection criteria include:
- Increasing the attractiveness, quality and equivalence of vocational education and training;
- Support for enterprises, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises in recruiting and training future professionals, managers and business successors;
- Development VET into an innovative, permeable and high-quality system;
- Development of innovative VET offers at further qualification level (in particular level five of the German Qualification Framework) which are geared to the needs of companies and provide incentives for young people to enter vocational training;
- Creation of innovative, high-quality cooperation between learning venues, for example for the transfer of knowledge and new developments from universities and research institutions via VET into company practice, especially in SMEs;
- Early adoption of new developments in VET, such as artificial intelligence and the development of corresponding qualification concepts for vocational education and training.
As of July 2019 thirty project proposals passed the first selection round. The conceptual frame for the German initiative emerges from the characteristics of dual apprenticeship. Considering them, an excellent VET consequently means excellence at the level of occupational standards and qualifications, at the level of learning venues and at the level of cooperation between stakeholders.
InnoVET initiative Wettbewerb InnoVET: Zukunft gestalten – Innovationen für eine exzellente berufliche Bildung: https://www.bmbf.de/de/innovet.html (in German)