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Supercharging Australia's Vocational Education and Training system

Germany is regarded as having one of the best Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems in the world. NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills John Barilaro talks to with Ross Greenwood from 2gb about Germany’s Dual Education System otherwise known as the “german duale ausbildung”.

Vocational Schools

In the German schooling system when students reach year 10, they can choose pathways into vocational education and training rather than taking an academic route. This does not stop them from being able to attend university post-school, however additional requirements may apply.

For students who choose the VET path, they attend a vocational school and study a curriculum designed around vocational education. They will typically spend 2 days at school and 3 days with an employer each week.

This is similar to our own VET system and Australian School-based Apprenticeships, where a student will attend school while undertaking their vocational qualification and employment towards their Australian Apprenticeship. However, in Germany students start their vocational education in year 10 and often finish by Year 12!

This means by the time they are 18, they can be a qualified trades person with the technical skills and work experience.

Aspirational Statuses

In Australia and Germany there are different cultural attitudes towards apprenticeships and traineeships.

What we call tradies or trades people in Australia are referred to as craftspeople in Germany; these occupations have a similar status to “doctors or engineers”.

In the German schooling system, the strongest industries are identified and exposed to young people early on in their educational path. This allows students to make informed decisions about their education and employment pathways when they need to.

Involved Employers, Businesses & Industries

Big German businesses such as Volkswagen have their own training schools within their manufacturing plants. This makes them the training provider and the employer, allowing them to adapt the education and training to suit the employment the young person is undertaking.

They are trained at an industry standard set out by the Chamber of Commerce & Industry and not the Department of Education.

It is a more communal approach when it comes to taking on apprentices and some companies have apprentice quotas.

BMW Germany has a flowchart to help you visualise and understand a dual apprenticeship: this is where you gain both a vocational education and the entrance qualification to a university. Many companies operate their apprenticeships this way in Germany.

There are many similarities between the Australian and German systems of education, but it is the differences that are highlighted by the NSW Deputy Premier in this podcast. For more information about the two models of education, also take a look at this piece from Harald Pfeifer, published by NCVER.