Four pathways to training



Company-based training

This type of training usually refers to classic dual training. Trainees spend part of the week – mostly one or two days – at vocational college, where they learn general subjects, such as German, Maths and English. Attending a vocational college is compulsory for all trainees and the company must grant them leave for this purpose. They then work for three or four days in the company and combine what they have learned with practical experience. According to analysis by the German Federal Institute for Vocational Education, trainees were paid an average of EUR 854 per month in 2016. However, remuneration depends on the company and the specialisation. Each year, around 500,000 young people complete their company training, which usually lasts three years. Sometimes there is the option of including a period abroad in the training.

School-leaver training

School-leaver training is less known, but it offers plenty of opportunities and good prospects for school leavers with a school leaving certificate. This type of training has some of the hallmarks of ‘standard’ vocational training, as well as the dual course. This form of training is not governed by a standard set of rules. There are different models depending on the company and state in question. However, school-leaver training is – like classic dual training – essentially divided into theory and practice stages. After two to four years, trainees take up a recognised career with an additional qualification. For example, while training as a commercial specialist, a trainee qualifies as a retail salesperson and receives an additional qualification as a certified commercial specialist at the same time.

Technical colleges

These educational institutions provide further vocational training, offering courses with a strong practical element. Technical colleges essentially require relevant vocational training or practical activity. This form of training is particularly common for roles in healthcare, agriculture, education and design. So this can cover occupations like nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, nursery teacher, foreign language correspondent and graphic designer.

The trainee spends several weeks or months at a stretch in the college and then in practical training. Full-time technical college courses usually last at least one year and part-time courses are extended accordingly. In many cases, there is no remuneration, and the training may in fact cost money. In this case, there is the option of applying for a training grant or loan.

Public service

Anyone with an advanced technical college certificate or a school leaving certif­icate can apply for training in the ‘upper civil service’. Federal authorities train people in over 130 professions recognised by the government. You can train for a typical administrative career, such as a specialist media and information service role, but also many other careers, such as cook, gardener, animal keeper, car mechanic and IT specialist. In the hierarchy, the ‘upper civil service’ comes between the ‘senior service’, which requires a degree, and the ‘intermediate service’, which requires an intermediate school leaving certificate. The practical training takes place within organisations and authorities at the municipal, state and national level. These include the police, the German Federal Bank and libraries.

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Time out after school

Many students still don’t know exactly what they want to do by the time they leave school. Many find that taking time out after school to find yourself or to pursue your interests can be helpful. It’s also OK to shift gear after leaving school and to find out what really revs your engine. Here are a few options: