There is a set of measures and programmes to support young people with difficulties to enter a regular apprenticeship. The Vocational Training Act regulates support measures for disabled apprentices, and there are several Government initiatives to integrate specific target groups in the apprenticeship system.

Pre-vocational training

For young people that cannot find a training place and for young people with learning difficulties, handicaps, social disadvantages or language problems there are two types of pre-vocational training available: 

  • The pre-vocational training year offers participants preparatory education in full-time schools to be able to comply with the demands of vocational training. It is part of the compulsory school attendance and the participants can obtain the secondary education leaving certificate.
  • The basic vocational training year provides the participants with basic vocational knowledge in a certain field either in a full-time school or in cooperation with a company. It can be credited as the first year of vocational training in related training occupations and equals the general certificate of secondary education.

Disabled young people

Training in a recognized training occupation should be open to disabled persons. The Vocational Training Act as well as the Trade and Crafts Code provide that their special situation has to be considered by the competent bodies, e.g. through adjusting the structure of the apprenticeship, the duration of examinations and through permitting auxiliary means in examinations. Part-time training is also possible. If an apprenticeship is not suitable for a disabled person, the competent body can upon request issue special training regulations based on recognized training occupations. The regulations have to be designed according to the recommendations of the Board of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training. For some occupations the special regulations are elaborated in the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training in a similar process as the regular training regulations. 

Disadvantaged young people

For disadvantaged young people that did not obtain a placement in a regular apprenticeship there is an opportunity to get a placement in extra-company training. Extra-company training is delivered by a training provider that acts as substitute for a regular training company. Those training providers usually cooperate with companies. Additionally, the apprentice visits the regular vocational part-time school. The objective is always to integrate the participants into regular in-company training. If that is not possible, they can complete the whole apprenticeship at the training provider.

Provisions for other target groups

The amended vocational training act from 2005 opens the option of part-time apprenticeship. There has to be a legitimate interest, usually a handicap or the responsibility for a child or family members in need of care.

A variety of government initiatives and programmes aim at the integration of special groups in the dual apprenticeship system, e.g. migrants, long-term unemployed, senior apprentices and university dropouts. The Federal Government runs with ESF-funding for instance the initiative ‘Strengthening the youth’ to support the transition between school and profession by offering a financial support to local communities and municipalities.