IVET and CVET (initial and continuing vocational education and training)

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The skilled crafts sector recruits most of its employees among their own apprentices trained in over 130 trades. Germany has a so-called “dual” apprenticeship system, with apprentices learning both in the company they work for and at a VET. While the focus of company training is on practical aspects of the work, VET colleges focus on the theoretical aspects. According to the specific trade, an apprenticeship can last between two and three and a half years, ending with a journeyman’s examination (the so-called ‘Gesellenprüfung’) The company employing the apprentice pays for the training including a financial retribution for the apprentice.

On becoming a journeyman, the door is open for a craftsman to systematically continue his training, working his way up to the master level. The master qualification is equivalent to a bachelor degree (EQF Level 6). On passing the master examination, a master craftsman is qualified to set up his own business and to train apprentices.

There are many CVET courses open to journeymen and master craftsmen; examples include business administration for skilled craftsmen or an internationally acclaimed course for restoration specialists. In most German federal states, a master qualification qualifies holders to study at a technical college or university.

Key elements of Germany’s apprenticeship system

Key Elements Dual System
Key elements of Germany’s apprenticeship system – The so-called dual system

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