Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Last updated: Feb 2023
TL;DR: Students who prefer to learn-by-doing should opt for the Dual Vocational Training (DVT) programme. 50% of German students choose to be trained via this pathway over a university education as the former is highly regarded by the industry and prepares trainees to be the perfect fit for the company and industry they’re trained in.
Many students have the opinion that a vocational school is an option for weaker students. The vocational schools are for students who do not perform well in exams. However, is a university education sufficient to help you join the workforce?
4 out of 10 graduates are working in jobs that typically do not require a college degree
A smarter way to select which institution you will receive your further education is to first think about your career pathway.
What do you aspire to be?
What are the specific knowledge which is required by your dream job?
Do you need to join a professional body to practise?
How much does it cost in total?
Are there scholarships or financial assistance available?
What are the different options available to achieve your dream?
Do you learn better in an exam setting or hands on learning?
For occupations such as accountancy, architecture, medicine, law, engineering or in the research fields, studying in a university will better prepare you. You have to enjoy studying and will need to do well in your exams.
However, a university education will have a higher barrier of entry. Students will often need to first complete a pre-university study and do well in their exams, face tough competitions from other students to enroll in the programs of their choice, pay a high tuition fee and potentially take loans to cover the expenses incurred.
For other occupations which are skill-based or technical in nature, a vocational education might be a better pathway instead. Students who prefer to learn-by-doing, and need to understand how to apply what they are learning will appreciate the vocational pathway.
Vocational schools have a lower barrier of entry, and it’s usually sufficient for a secondary school leaver to join a vocational program. The training duration is shorter, and it can take as short as two years to complete the training and start working. Not only is the tuition fee a lot lower, graduates are sought after in the industry and it won’t take long for them to land their first job.
Between 2008-2014, the proportion of bachelor degree graduates in full-time employment fell from 86% to 68%.
Comparatively, 78% of VET graduates are employed after training and 82% of graduates who participated in VET as a part of an apprenticeship or traineeship are employed after training.
The graduate employment rate of VET students who train as part of a trade apprenticeship is as high as 92%.
Note: VET stands for Vocational Education & Training in Australia
In Germany, there is a form of vocational training which is highly regarded by the industry. As many as 50% of German students will choose this program over studying at a university. This program is called the Dual Vocational Training, and students will have to apply to companies offering the Dual Vocational Training and receive on-the-job training for a specific role within the company. You can think of it as getting hired first, and then training for the job. The result? Best fit of skill set for both the student and employer.
The Vocational Training Act of 1969 introduced this close alliance between the Federal Government, the federal states and companies to provide young people with high quality training
Source: The German Vocational Training System
Small and medium sized companies collaborate with government funded vocational schools to offer the Dual Vocational Training. The program last between two to three and a half years, and trainees alternate between training at their company and at the vocational school. Instead of paying tuition fees to further their education, trainees receive an allowance which comfortably covers their living expenses.
Training, testing and certificates are standardized in all industries
This means that when a trainee is trained and certified by a company, his skills are also relevant in other companies in Germany. Many companies consider the Dual Vocational Training as the best way to recruit talent as they get to properly prepare students for their future roles in the company. It is therefore no surprise that graduates from this program are retained by the companies. This model of education is so successful, it is now a model for many other countries around the world.
The dual system of vocational training has proved an effective means of combating youth unemployment and skills shortages. Germany is already collaborating with over 100 countries that have an interest in the German system.