From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A dual education system is practised in several countries, notably Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but also Denmark, the Netherlands and France, and for some years now in China and other countries in Asia . It combines apprenticeships in a company and vocational education at a vocational school in one course.
In the duale Ausbildungssystem young German people can learn one of 356 (2005) apprenticeship occupations (Ausbildungsberufe), such as Doctor's Assistant, Dispensing Optician or Oven Builder. The precise skills and theory taught are strictly regulated: an Industriekaufmann (someone trained to work in an industrial company as a personnel assistant or accountant, etc) has always learned the same skills and taken the same courses.
In 2003, the top five most popular dual education courses taken in Germany were:
- Retailer (Kaufmann/Kauffrau im Einzelhandel) — 28,773 people took up this course in 2003.
- Clerical worker / office administrator (Bürokaufmann/Bürokauffrau) — 24,389
- Mechatronics technologist for the automobile industry (Kraftfahrzeugmechatroniker/in mit Vorgängerberufen) — 23,218
- Office worker in an industrial company (Industriekaufmann/-kauffrau) — 18,583
- Cook (Koch/Köchin) — 16,434
- Specially in southern Germany this model is also used for a special college system called Berufsakademie.
(Source: Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung )
In France, dual education (formation en alternance) has undergone a boom since the 1990s, with information technology being the greatest draw.
As one part of the dual education course, students are trained in a company for three to five days a week. The company is responsible for ensuring that students get the standard quantity and quality of training set down in the training descriptions for each trade.
In Germany, this practical training may be complemented by more practical lessons at workshops run by the guilds and chamber of commerce, in order to compensate for the bias caused by training at only one company. These extra courses usually take three or four weeks a year.
In France, the same amount of time is spent in practical training and theory, with the following possible systems:
- 2.5 days in a company, 2.5 days at school,
- one week in a company, one week at school,
- six months in a company, six months at school.
French companies must provide a tutor or other person responsible for the students, or a human resources officer to deal with them. Their duties may involve daily tutoring and/or targeted training. French apprentices on the dual education course are paid a certain percentage of the minimum wage for the job they are learning.
The other part of the dual education course involves lessons at a vocational school (German: Berufsschule). The responsibility for this part of the course lies with the school authorities in every German state or Swiss canton. Both general lessons (German, politics, economics, religion, sport) and trade-specific theory are taught.
Lessons may be taught part-time (one or two days a week) or in blocks of several weeks. The latter is preferred for trades learned by only a small number of students, where students may have to travel long distances to get to the nearest vocational school which teaches their subject.
In Germany, for most trades, the first examination takes place about half-way through the vocational training and is only to test how well the student is doing so far: the marks do not go towards the final exam. Both exams are organised by the small business trade group and chamber of commerce and industry. Examinations for trained artisans are traditionally known as journeyman's tests (Gesellenprüfung).
Examinations for trades which have been recognised more recently are organised slightly differently. Here, the first examination counts as 40% of the total result, with the final examination making up the other 60%.
Those who fail the exam can apply to have their training extended until the following year when they can retake it. Only one extension is allowed.
Problems with dual education
Although the dual education system is generally considered to be exemplary, an increasing number of young people are taking vocational education and training (VET) courses at training sites and schools rather than in real companies, as for various reasons, companies are becoming less willing to take on apprentices. To counter this, the government considered making it compulsory for firms to take on apprentices. This idea, however, was dropped when the trade associations agreed to a voluntary training pact.
The reasons behind the lack of places on dual education courses include:
- companies which take on apprentices have to follow a large number of regulations
- the training itself is very expensive
- many school leavers have only a low level of education and are not able to keep up with the course
- firms are often highly specialised and unable to train apprentices in all the required areas
Recently some attempts have been made to overcome these difficulties, but as yet with no success. Two solutions put forward so far are "contractual education" (Auftragsausbildung) and state-run courses. The former would involve companies training apprentices which they do not plan to employ; the contract would also not be an employment contract. The latter solution would involve training outside of companies, in schools and colleges.
In Switzerland too, more and more young people are finding it hard to get a place in a company of their choice. In 2004, a conference took place on this subject, attended by all the parties in the Swiss Federal Council; as no agreement could be reached on which measures to take, the only result was a call for all companies to take on apprentices.
The lack of places has changed the conditions in which apprentices are taken on. In 2004, one newly-founded company even advertised apprenticeships in IT where the apprentices had to pay for the training themselves. The uproar was so great, however, that the company was not able to start up. Today, most apprentices have to take aptitude tests before they are accepted, and there are usually several candidates for a company to choose from.
- Much of this information was taken from the German and French language versions of this article.
- Quick facts about the German education system from www.germany-info.org
- 2005 Reform of Vocational Education and Training (Federal Ministry of Education and Research)
Categories: Education in Germany | Education in Austria | Education in Switzerland