The German government uses laws and regulations to set the legal framework for the in-company part of the dual apprenticeship training. The centrepiece is the German Vocational Training Act. Through this act the State declares the entire field of non-school vocational education and training to be a public task.

Vocational Training Act

The 1969 Vocational Training Act (BBiG) was amended in 2005. It regulates the vocational training preparation, vocational training within the dual apprenticeship system, continuing vocational training and vocational retraining. In particular it contains

  • regulations on the apprenticeships,
  • requirements in terms of personal and technical skills, knowledge and qualifications for in-company training staff,
  • requirements defining the suitability of in-company training premises as well as
  • regulations on the examination system.

Other topics are the organisation of vocational training, VET research and regulations regarding the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB).

The Vocational Training Act defines the requirements that must be met by a training occupation. It stipulates that initial vocational education and training has to provide the capabilities, knowledge and skills (vocational capacity) necessary for the exercise of a qualified vocational activity in a changing working environment in a well-regulated course of training.

For the uniform application of the Vocational Training Act the Board of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, also informally called “Parliament of German VET”, issues recommendations which specify the regulations of the act.

In 2016 the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) consulted main VET stakeholders on possible need to amend the Vocational Training Act. The consultation did not identify fundamental or systemic changes but some options for legislative actions, e.g. regarding electronic training certificates. Currently the German Vocational Training Act is under revision (for more details see the chapter on recent developments).

Other relevant laws, regulations and practices

  • The Crafts Statute is the legal base for the German skilled crafts and their self-government. The part regulating the vocational training is adjusted to the Vocational Training Act.
  • For each recognised training occupation the training regulation sets the objectives, content and examination requirements for training in enterprises. Training regulations apply nationwide and have the force of law.
  • The school laws of the Federal States regulate the school-part of the dual apprenticeship.
  • A training company has to prove that at least one staff member has passed the trainer aptitude test conducted by a competent body. The Ordinance On Trainer Aptitude regulates the structure and the content of the examination for the pedagogic aptitude of the trainers in the companies.
  • For apprentices under 18 the Youth Labour Protection Law regulates the working time, the paid vacation time guaranteed by law and the leave in order to attend the vocational school.
  • Apprentices in the German dual apprenticeship system have the legal status as students in the vocational school and they are employees with a special legal status at the training company. The training is based on a training contract under private law between a training company and the apprentice. The specifications of the contract are regulated in the Vocational Training Act.