Kornelia Haugg (below) presented the Roundtable with a tour de force description of the vocational education system. She described a vocational education technical (VET) system that was part of a dual path to employment. One path leads through the general education system of 13 years of schooling into higher education as a route to the labor market. The second route has two paths — traditional vocational education schools into work or the “Dual VET” which is comprised of a complex ecosystem involving schools, employers, and government to provide occupational qualifications in 326 recognized occupations.
Haugg reported that nearly 52% of young people enter the workforce through the dual VET program, with 90% of those entering VET graduating from the program. Currently 1.32 million trainees and apprentices are participating and 5.2% of all employees in the country are trainees. The program provides essentially guarantees of employment security — about 96% of VET graduates find work.
Confirming much of what we had heard at Siemens, Haugg reported that nearly half a million employers (426,375 to be precise) participate in the VET program (out of a total of 1.7 million companies). They offer training to 500,000 potential employees annually. Unfortunately, she said, despite what appears to American observers to be a massive scale of VET participation, only 20% of companies participate. Very small companies find it difficult to be part of the program.
The VET program offers two coordinated learning opportunities, with 70% of VET training offered on site at the company and the remaining 30% in a vocational school that provides theory as well as instruction in languages and what we in the United States would consider social studies – lessons on how democracy is supposed to work.