Initial vocational education and training in Germany

Figure 3:	IVET in Germany. Source: BIBB/Pütz 2003: 8.

The dual apprenticeship system is the core of Germany’s initial vocational education and training structure (IVET). It is called “dual system” since education and training is provided by both vocational schools and companies. Most of the approx. 350 training programmes take 3 years, however there are some exceptions taking 2 or 3.5 years. Apprentices who are trained under an approved training contract receive remuneration for the whole training period. Successful completion of a programme entitles the trainee to practise an occupation as qualified skilled workers in their recognised training occupations.

(Full-time) vocational schools include full-time vocational schools, a wide range of specialised VET schools (e.g. vocational/trade and technical grammar schools, vocational secondary schools, health care schools, schools for midwifery), and country-specific vocational schools. Full-time vocational schools provide both full and part vocational qualifications. Most schools offer double degree training programmes which provide a vocational qualification and specific school leaving exams. However, receiving both qualifications prerequisites additional requirements (e.g. additional language courses).

Basic vocational education can be completed either in a one-year full-time vocational school or in a one-year training programme that combines in-company training and school-based training called basic vocational training year or foundation vocational training year (Berufsgrundbildungsjahr, BGJ). The BGJ provides basic education in a particular occupational field (e.g. metalworking techniques, business and administration). Successful completion of the BGJ can be credited as first year of vocational training in the training occupations assigned to the relevant occupational field.


The pre-vocational training year (Berufsgrundbildungsjahr, BVJ) is a one-year full-time training programme to prepare young people for vocational training. Additionally, trainees may complete lower secondary general education since most of the BVJ trainees do not have any school leaving certificate.