An apprenticeship is a modern means of providing vocational training. It is a dual system which combines practical training with periods of school-based education to acquire key competences and knowledge of the theoretical aspects of a given trade. It is open to all young people who have completed nine years of compulsory education.
Apprentices receive practical on-the-job training within companies. In addition, they receive special theoretical instruction at vocational schools, with classes being held either on one or two days per week or within a block of classes over several weeks. (“dual system”). Depending on the chosen trade, an apprenticeship can last two, two and a half, three, three and a half or four years, and will always be concluded with a final examination.
On-the-job training within an enterprise provides the kind of knowledge and skills that is needed in order to become a skilled worker and become employed in the trade learned. Apprenticeship training produces excellent skilled labour no company can do without.
The Vocational Training Act (Berufsausbildungsgesetz – BAG, only available in German) includes the related statutory rules.
The major advantage of the dual system is its flexibility in accommodating a gradual re-design of training rules and developing new apprenticeship trades. This approach makes it possible for the system to respond to the requirements of business and labour markets and deliver training that is adjusted to changing needs.