Foreign Policy: Learning from Germany's Dual System of Vocational Training

Jul 13, 2017

Mechatronics trainees Enlarge image Mechatronics trainees at Audi's training center in Ingolstadt, Bavaria (© picture alliance / Andreas Geber) Can the German vocational training model be implemented in the United States? A recent article in Foreign Policy looks at Germany's dual system, or vocational education and training system (VET), and efforts to promote German-style apprenticeship models in the United States.

The German model allows trainees to enroll in a formalized program of on-the-job training and classroom education, all with a monthly salary from the employer. Trainees who complete the program earn VET certification in their field and are highly likey to find a job.

Germany's training system is deeply embedded in the culture and the economy, journalist Paul Hockenos points out. "The modern VET was designed and honed through close cooperation among state, industry, and the trade unions."

Ninety percent of large businesses, as well as thousands of smaller and medium-sized enterprises, host 1.4 million apprentices every year, he writes.

White House roundtable

US President Donald Trump has taken note of Germany's success in training and employing its young people especially. When Chancellor Angela Merkel met with President Trump at the White House in March, the two leaders took part in a roundtable discussion on vocational training with CEOs of German companies and their trainees here in the United States.

Skills Initiative

With its Skills Initiative, the German Embassy is seeking cooperation with states and convening groups of German companies and bringing them together with local training providers so that they can work on the best fit for training programs in their area.

Ambassador Peter Wittig wrote about dual education as a competitor to college for young people in a an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in May.

"As high-wage countries, Germany and the U.S. face similar challenges in protecting existing production facilities and creating new manufacturing jobs. One of the most decisive factors for companies is whether they can find skilled and motivated workers, which is what apprenticeship programs provide."

Today, more American companies are choosing the path similar to the German-style skills training schemes. The German Embassy's Skills Initiative helps to facilitate these efforts.

Foreign Policy article

Donald Trump Finally Found a German Thing He Likes
The president wants to transfer Germany’s vaunted job training model to the United States. Will it get lost in translation?

Skills Initiative

Skills Initiative

The Skills Initiative works to introduce the German style dual training system in the US.