Basic Information

Objectives of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education

Apart from broad general education the technical and vocational education sector provides students with initial technical and vocational training. Technical and vocational schools and colleges may be attended after completion of the 8th year of compulsory schooling.

The main objectives of these schools and colleges are: to develop the individual student's personality, to reach a higher level of occupational mobility and flexibility, to develop the individual student's creativity, to foster critical thinking, teamwork, communication skills and social consciousness.

Moreover and in compliance with the Vocational Training Act and Trade Regulations, the curricula of these schools are designed to provide students with appropriate vocational knowledge, skills and qualifications thereby giving access to legally recognized and non-legally recognized occupations.

The accrediting of vocational qualifications rests with the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and is based on the following legal foundations:

  • Vocational Training Act [Berufsausbildungsgesetz] and
  • Trade Regulations.

Vocational Training Act and Trade Regulations

The Vocational Training Act constitutes the legal framework for company-based training of apprentices and does also affect certain areas of technical and vocational schools and colleges as well as special types and pilot schools thereof.

This also means that the school-leaving exam provides graduates of technical and vocational schools

  • with access to occupations which require an Apprenticeship Leave Exam in the respective occupation;
  • with documentation on the qualifications necessary for certain jobs in the public services sector;
  • with the right to adequate minimum wages and salaries.

Students who drop out of a technical and vocational school or college may continue vocational training within the framework of apprenticeship training. Upon request qualifications acquired in the respective technical and vocational school or college have to be accredited.

The extent to which qualifications may be accredited is legally defined and depends on the respective apprenticeship trade as well as other things.

Successful completion of apprenticeship training (dual system) or a technical and vocational school or college provides access to various legally protected crafts and trades. Apart from meeting the general requirements, the exercise of a trade is also conditional upon the submission of specific documentation proving work experience in the respective field and/or qualification tests.

Entrepreneurs Exam Regulations

The self-employed exercise of a craft or a legally protected trade is conditional upon the submission of documentation proving the necessary business and legal qualifications. This is done by means of passing the Entrepreneurs Exam. The contents of this examination are laid down in the Entrepreneurs Exam Regulations. There are a number of technical and vocational schools and colleges which impart the knowledge and skills tested in this exam. Thus, graduates of these schools and colleges are exempted from the requirement to do the Entrepreneurs Exam. The schools and colleges in question are mainly those with a focus on business education.

Structure and Organization of Initial Vocational Training:

Technical and vocational schools comprise part-time vocational schools for apprentices, which provide apprentices with general knowledge and theoretical know-how, and technical and vocational schools and colleges.

The dual system: Company-based training complemented by education in part-time vocational schools for apprentices

Occupational fields within the dual system

The legally recognized apprenticeship trades comprise the following areas:

  • the building trade and related trades
  • the clothing and upholsterer trade and the leather-processing trades
  • chemistry
  • gardening and forestry
  • electrical engineering and electronics
  • catering/foods
  • glass finishing ceramics
  • graphic design
  • commerce and transport
  • woodworking and plastics processing
  • painter, lacquerer and sign painter
  • metal and sheet metal processing/plumbing/casting/mechanics/
  • metal refining and goldsmithery/
  • locksmith's trade/blacksmith's trade
  • manufacturing of musical instruments
  • optics/photography
  • paper manufacturing and processing
  • beauty care
  • textile industry
  • dental prosthetics and orthopedics

School-based training in secondary technical and vocational schools and colleges

There are technical and vocational schools and colleges for the following areas:

  • schools and colleges for engineering
  • schools and colleges for occupations in the business sector
  • schools and colleges for tourism
  • schools and colleges for fashion and clothing
  • schools and colleges for occupations in the social services sector
  • schools and colleges for agriculture and forestry
  • and other special school types and pilot projects

Co-operation with the Industry

The industry has always been an important partner for technical and vocational schools – thus, curricula are drawn up and priorities are set in line with the requirements of the industry, apprentices receive high-quality training in companies and students of technical and vocational schools and colleges have to serve compulsory work placements. Moreover, schools and the industry co-operate in various joint projects where the findings of research and development find practical use.

Thus, practice-oriented education and training, which meet the needs and requirements of industry, is a must. The quality of training and further education facilities for initial training (provided by schools just as by the dual system) and regulated further education is measured against its practical value in the labour market.

Quality is also assured by constantly adapting the curricula to new standards.

Curricula are drawn up in close co-operation between experts of the school administration, industry and the business sector as well as the social partners (trade unions, Chamber of Labour, Economic Chamber). The social partners are also given a say in the examination of curricula and other regulations or laws, so that they may contribute with their experience and represent their interests.

High quality of training and education measures is ensured by the fact that curricula fall into the province of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture while access to legally recognized occupations is regulated by other ministries in co-operation with the social partners.

The TVE-Diploma

The introduction of the TVE-Examination (September 1997) has further contributed to the permeability of education systems. Upon passing this exam (which consists of four parts) graduates of the dual system, of at least three years lasting technical and vocational schools, of schools for auxiliary nursing and of schools for the training of para-medical staff gain access to university education.

Geändert am: 06.04.2018

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