Vocational Training in the Skilled Crafts sector in Germany

Since May 1, 2011 the free movement of workers in Germany for all European citizens came fully into force. As a consequence nationals from 25 EU-countries can start a vocational training in Germany. (Exception: To Bulgaria and Romania applies a transitional arrangement until the end of 2013.)

Vocational training in Germany takes place predominantly through dual education. The major part of training within the dual system is done in companies. The young person is trainee/apprentice in a company and is part-time released to attend vocational school. Whereas the in-company vocational training concentrates on teaching specialized practical skills and providing the necessary occupational experience, the vocational school focuses on providing the specialized theoretical knowledge for the relevant occupation and on consolidating and improving the level of general education.

This means that young people learn in the workplace as well as in a vocational school. In doing this, it is above all practical skills which are developed in the workplace while theoretical subject matter is taught at school. Training lasts between two and three and a half years, depending on the profession. 
The company bears  training costs  and  the  trainee receives apprenticeship  pay. The level of apprenticeship pay depends on which trade the apprenticeship training is leading to. An overview of apprenticeship pay levels can be found here: BIBB . Vocational training colleges are state funded.


Getting started on vocational training

  1. First you need to narrow down your choice of crafts. You are expected to know what demands will be made on you and what marks and skills are important. The following institutions offer detailed vocational information: www.handwerk.de  www.planet-beruf.de www.handwerksberufe.de www.handfest-online.de www.handwerks-power.de
  2. Almost all skilled craft chambers in Germany have an online apprenticeship market-place showing where there are available training places in the desired craft or similar crafts. This link takes you to the craft apprenticeships’ online market-place. Next you should make initial contact with the company. It can also be useful to contact in person the apprenticeship advisers in the craft chambers.
  3. The next step is to prepare the candidate portfolio. This consists of three parts: a covering letter, a curriculum vitae, then reports and evidence of further qualifications or practical training periods. To see what an application should look like, go to the young people’s pages of the national agency with responsibility for employment, the Bundesagentur für Arbeit website.
  4. Application papers must be addressed to the company in question. Before doing this, you should clarify by telephone or by email whether the apprenticeship place is still available. You will also find out from the company whether you can at this stage have a first conversation with the person in charge. The chance of obtaining an apprenticeship place increases if a practical work placement can be arranged beforehand.
  5. If the company and the applicant agree that the apprenticeship can begin, then articles of apprenticeship must be signed. Sample articles and information about rights and responsibilities for both parties can be found here.