The close cooperation of public institutions and private companies and a practical training, which is embedded in everyday work processes, are two important features of the dual TVET system in Germany. The apprenticeship and upscaling training opportunities for qualified workers in a wide range of professions is a key success factor for the German economic competitiveness.
The institutionalised co-operation of public institutions, companies, the chambers and representatives of employers and employees brings about a TVET system with a strong focus on the current needs of the labour market, and a comparatively low youth unemployment rate. The international reputation of TVET "Made in Germany" is reason enough for many governments and institutions to search for a first-hand impression of the functioning of the German dual TVET system, and there has been increasing demand for further training of all TVET stakeholders in Germany or on the ground.
German dual TVET is a system of initial vocational training for the transition from general school to a professional career. Over a period of 2 to 3.5 years, apprentices are trained within a company, with one third of the time reserved for classroom training. Instructors in specialized public vocational schools impart technical and social skills to prepare the apprentices for their future career. The German dual TVET system has been formally established in 1969, when the Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz, BBiG) came into effect. It defines the prerequisites for professional training to be formally recognised as dual vocational training and lays the ground for the occupational standards, which are uniformly regulated and applied all over the country.
TVET partners and key players
The Vocational Training Act defines the responsibilities of the key TVET players.
Practical apprenticeship training is organised alongside the national occupational standards within the companies.
The regionally organised chambers are mandated to coordinate the training companies and to organise the examinations of initial apprenticeship and of upscaling training. The proficiency certificates issued by the local chambers are valid throughout Germany and are highly recognised worldwide. In Hamburg, depending on the affiliation of the companies, the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Crafts, the Chamber of Agriculture, the Medical Chamber, the Chamber of Dentists, the Veterinary Chamber, the Chamber of Lawyers or the Chamber of Notaries are responsible for the coordination of participating companies or cabinets and the organisation of final examinations.
Within the federal system of Germany, the responsibility for classroom teaching of apprentices lies with the federal states. In 2007, Hamburg was the first state to establish the Hamburg Institute for Vocational Education and Training (HIBB) with the unique responsibility of coordinating the vocational schools. The concentration of all vocational schools in one agency, the HIBB, is one result of a comprehensive organisational reform of dual TVET in Hamburg in the 2000s. Another consequence is a considerable improvement in the co-operation of vocational schools and training companies.
The so-called "learning location co-operations" (LOK) regularly summon in-company trainers and vocational school instructors for a continuous exchange on the progress of apprentices, including the identification of and possible solution for problems and weaknesses.
The Hamburg co-operation model
Hamburg has a unique position in Germany in some economic and scientific sectors, and a stand-alone in organising a strong co-operation of all TVET key players. Apprentices in Hamburg are trained in 240 professions across all economic sectors, out of 340 national occupational standards available in Germany. Nowhere else in-company trainers and vocational school instructors work as closely together as in the learning location co-operations (LOK) in Hamburg. Hamburg is therefore considered, even within Germany, a best practice for TVET key player coordination.
The city state of Hamburg with its 1.8 million inhabitants, some 5 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area and with its broad economic base is therefore an ideal location to gain further insights into the German dual TVET system. It is the perfect place to drill deeper down into the requirements for training companies, in-company trainers and examiners, and to learn about the teaching approach promoted in the 32 public vocational schools.