JITE v35n3 - A Comparative Study of Two Delivery Mechanisms of Dual Vocational Training in Germany: Implications for Vocational Training in the United States

Volume 35, Number 3
Spring 1998

A Comparative Study of Two Delivery Mechanisms of Dual Vocational Training in Germany: Implications for Vocational Training in the United States

Klaus Schmidt,
University of Missouri-Columbia

Recent developments in Germany have created not only political change, but also an array of problems for the country’s economic and educational systems. One of the biggest challenges after the reunification of democratic western Germany and communist eastern Germany in 1990 was the need to develop a well-trained workforce in the region of the former East Germany. The local educational system lacked enough quality programs to prepare students for the world of work in a western society. More specifically, a large proportion of the eastern German workforce was unprepared to address the challenges of a changing economy. Restructuring rendered many jobs and many qualifications obsolete. In the east, prior to reunification, state-owned companies employed large numbers of people, regardless of their training or productivity. These changes in the employment structure resulted from the communist idea of providing each individual with the right to work.

German reunification spawned more problems than had been anticipated by economists, politicians, and educators. First, economists had not expected the former East German economy and manufacturing infrastructure to lag so far behind the level of productivity of western economies. The magnitude of the gap in productivity between east and west was much greater than predicted. Latka-Joehring ( 1991 ) suggested that considerable support was needed to reorganize the economy, including training for workers and managers.

Second, politicians were overwhelmed by the challenges associated with developing a "new" Germany. Economic differences between the two former Germanys posed a serious threat to political stability. For example, in regions with the highest youth unemployment rates, right-wing extremist groups gained substantial support ( Voland, 1993 ).

Third, educators faced unprecedented challenges. Latka-Joehrring ( 1991 ) observed that the vocational system should be drastically reformed to bring the former communist region of the reunified country up to the productivity levels of the rest of the country. While the former East German workforce needed to be retrained, significant numbers of young people were unable to secure apprenticeship positions due to a shortage of companies participating in such programs.

As a result of these problems, the Federal Government of the unified Germany developed and implemented non-company-based vocational training programs in the region of the former East Germany designed to provide additional vocational training options for the youth ( Ulrich & Tuschke, 1995 ). Thus, two delivery mechanisms of dual vocational training existed in Germany: (a) traditional dual vocational training programs (TVP) and (b) non-company based dual vocational programs (NCP). The predominant delivery mechanism in TVPs, for practical aspects, are company-based and financed by industry, while NCPs deliver those aspects through publicly financed training institutes. However, in both types of training programs participants attended the same part-time vocational schools, receiving the same instruction for the theoretical aspects of their programs. Due to the two learning environments (school and work), TVPs and NCPs were considered to be "dual" training programs in this study.

Purpose of the Study

This study consisted of an examination of the German vocational training system. Two types of programs were investigated: (a) traditional vocational training programs (TVPs), in which apprentices spend three to four days in a company and the remainder of the week in a vocational school (or a similar schedule in which students alternate between blocks of school and work), and (b) non-company based vocational training programs (NCPs), in which the role of the company is replaced by either a simulation company or a private training company. This study focused on describing and comparing these two types of training programs as perceived by graduates from either TVPs or NCPs in terms of their (a) training satisfaction, (b) economic outcomes, and (c) job satisfaction. In addition, the article discusses examples where aspects of either TVPs or NCPs have been implemented successfully in American vocational education programs.

Relevant Literature

Available literature contains an array of indicators that describe training satisfaction. Fowler ( 1994 ) applied how students felt their programs had prepared them for their current jobs as an indicator of job satisfaction. Holt and Lucas ( 1994 ) added the extent to which students were satisfied with their professional education and satisfaction with their chosen profession as indicators of training satisfaction. Riesenberg and Stenberg ( 1990 ) developed two items: "if you [student] had it to do over, what type of curriculum would you choose today" and "how satisfied were you [student] with your high school curriculum" ( p. 6 ).

Furthermore, indicators of economic outcomes were identified. Hollenbeck and Anderson ( 1993 ) focused on labor market characteristics as indicators of the impact of education on the economy. These characteristics were labor force participation, periods of employment and unemployment, current employment status, and wage rates. Catterall ( 1984 ) suggested that the level of income, ease of locating a job, and employment in a training-related field were primary economic outcome indicators. McCaslin and Bragg ( 1992 ) also discussed employment in a training-related field. Pierret ( 1990 ) added stability of employment as a major factor of the economic vocational education outcomes.

In the 1994 National Assessment of Vocational Education/Interim Report to Congress, two more important variables were added to the list of economic outcome indicators. These variables included duration of job seeking and length of stay in a particular job. In this report, Deich ( 1984 ) discussed the match between training and employment. In order to demonstrate that beneficial employment outcomes occur when students find jobs related to their field of study, an index called the course utilization rate was developed. This index measures "the share of all vocational courses taken by high school students that are related to jobs they eventually obtain" ( Deich, 1994, p. 391 ). One additional indicator defined by Hoachlander, Kaufman & Wilen ( 1991 ), was employee receipt of company training. Hoachlander et al.’s research showed that employers tended not only to pay higher wages to the better educated employees, but they also provided additional training to their better educated employees.

Indicators of job satisfaction were discussed by an array of researchers. Riesenberg and Stenberg ( 1992 ) identified 11 indicators relating to graduates’ satisfaction with current job characteristics. Salary, fringe benefits, potential for advancement, and job security were identified as relating to economic and socio-economic aspects of job satisfaction while others related to the work itself. These indicators included pace of work, working and safety conditions, and variety of job tasks. Holt and Lucas ( 1994 ) also emphasized fringe benefits and the potential for advancement (i.e., professional development) as major indicators of job satisfaction. Yet another set of indicators of job satisfaction referred to the quality of the interpersonal work environment ( Riesenberg & Stenberg, 1992 ). These indicators focused on how well individuals get along with their co-workers and supervisors. In addition, company policies and practices were considered to have a major impact on job satisfaction. Additionally, Tanner and Warr ( 1993 ) identified satisfaction with the work itself, satisfaction with pay, satisfaction with promotion, satisfaction with supervision, and satisfaction with co-workers as key indicators.

A study conducted by the Office of Institutional Research ( 1994 ) focused on working conditions, level of responsibility, the job in general, advancement potential, and salary as indicators of job satisfaction. Another indicator was career stability. Fowler ( 1994 ) stated that employees who are satisfied with their jobs "are likely to continue working within the same career field, while those dissatisfied will probably change not only jobs but careers as well" ( p. 10 ).

Germany’s Dual Vocational Training System

Dual vocational training has a long tradition in Germany. In medieval times, guilds developed training systems and determined who, how, and what needed to be taught. This training system, developed in the 12th and 13th centuries, may be considered the forerunner of the work-based part of the dual vocational training system ( Federal Ministry of Education and Science, 1994 ).

In this century, practical training has been provided by companies and is designed to enable trainees to begin working in their occupations upon completion of their training ( Heidemann, 1993 ). However, the company-based component of training does not necessarily take place in manufacturing companies. There are non-company-based training centers that offer practical technical training. Many of these training centers were created in regions lacking TVPs ( Ulrich, 1995a ).

The school-based section of the dual system emerged in the 16th and 17th centuries, when religious and artisanal Sunday Schools were established. These schools gradually evolved into general and commercial schools of continuing education and, at the beginning of the 20th century, were structured according to occupations ( Federal Ministry of Education and Science, 1994 ). Vocational schools were one pillar of the dual training system in Germany. These vocational schools provided mostly theoretical knowledge relating to the profession to be learned.

Traditional Dual Training Programs (TVP)

In the traditional dual training system, a typical apprenticeship program requires an individual to apply for an apprenticeship program within a company (e.g., as a bank clerk). After acceptance into the program, students sign contracts committing the company to provide training in a recognized training occupation ( Schenkel, 1988 ). Depending on entry-level skills and knowledge, these programs last between two and three and one-half years. During their training, apprentices are required to attend a vocational school for one or two days per week or in blocks of time lasting several weeks. A typical school day includes general subjects like civics, German, physical training, and religious instruction. Bank clerks for example, are also required to take courses in economics, accounting, business mathematics, business administration, and organizational theory ( Schmidt & Foster, 1997 ).

Non-company-based Dual Training Programs (NCP)

While TVPs are primarily financed by the company, NCPs are exclusively financed by either the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesanstalt für Arbeit) or by other federal and state funds. NCPs have been developed in future-oriented professions in order to control regional training imbalances ( Ulrich, 1995a ). In NCPs, the company-based component has been replaced by training institutes operated by chambers of commerce and trade, labor unions, or municipalities. These training institutes are designed to "simulate" a company environment. In addition, industry internships are included to support learning on the job. Ulrich ( 1995b ) has identified some educational and socio-political advantages of NCPs. These programs assure that a diverse group of youth receive professional skills. For example, increasing percentages of young women have been attracted into programs that have historically been attended by men. Youth unemployment has also been reduced (See Figure 1).

Dual Vocational Training Programs in the United States.

The success of dual vocational training in various European countries has influenced educators and industries in the United States. A review of the models used in the United States reveals some practices that are very similar to German NCPs, while others more closely align with TVPs.

The "Maine Career Advantage Program" is a dual training program that is similar to NCPs. This three-year program is sponsored jointly by the School to Work Act (50%), the state of Maine (25%), and local companies (25%). The program provides a combination of academic and career skills to non-college bound youth. A rigorous course of study beginning in the 11th grade is combined with 30 weeks of on-the-job experience, where students are instructed by their employers who assume the role of teachers ( German American Chamber of Commerce, 1997 ). The second year of the program (12th grade), is split into 20 weeks of in-class sessions followed by 30 weeks of on-the-job training. After successfully completing this program, students are awarded a high school diploma. During the third year, students receive a total of 16 weeks of training at a technical college. The remaining 34 weeks are spent working for their employers. Throughout this year, students are taught more advanced technical skills and are assigned a growing number of workplace responsibilities. After students successfully complete the college classes and have met the skills standards set for on-the-job training, they receive a certificate of skill mastery ( German American Chamber of Commerce, 1997 ).

American models similar to TVPs have been developed in conjunction with various companies. For example, Siemens Stromberg-Carlson and the Robert Bosch Corporation, (two multi-national corporations) established dual vocational training programs in their American locations. Siemens Stromberg-Carlson developed a two and one-half-year apprenticeship program with areas of specialization in equipment engineering (test-technician), and telecommunications technology (installation technician). During the initial year of this program (after graduation from high school), students spend approximately 20 hours per week in college and 20 hours per week in instruction conducted in a factory site classroom where they receive instruction in metals and electronics. In the second year and throughout the final six months of training, students continue to receive instruction in the factory site classroom and are assigned to the factory floor for on-the-job training. This on-the-job experience allows students to apply their skills and knowledge in an authentic work environment. Upon graduation, participants receive an Associate Degree in Science and Engineering Technology ( Szabo, 1993 ).

The Robert Bosch Corporation introduced an apprentice training program based on the training system at their German-based headquarters. This new program prepares professional toolmakers over a two and one-half-year time frame and is designed to ensure a smooth transition from school to the workforce. During the first year of this training program apprentices are assembled in teams to learn to work together. Apprentices spend 32 hours per week at the company in a dedicated training area. During the first year they are assigned a work bench and basic hand tools in order to complete a sequence of projects including a team project. Apprentices are subsequently introduced to basic and advanced machining skills. During the remaining one and one-half years of the program, apprentices are assigned to various departments throughout the facility to assure that they receive hands-on experience in components of manufacturing, assembly, engineering, tooling, maintenance, and support capabilities. In addition to practical experience, apprentices spend eight hours per week at the local technical college for formal classroom instruction and additional classes at the Bosch facilities ( German American Chamber of Commerce, 1997 ).

Research Questions

The study was designed to address the following research questions:

  1. Do responses to indicators of training satisfaction differ between students who participated in traditional dual vocational programs and those who participated in non-company-based dual vocational programs?
  2. Do responses on indicators of economic outcomes differ between students who graduated from traditional vs. non-company-based dual vocational programs?
  3. Do responses on indicators of job satisfaction differ between students who graduated from traditional vs. non-company-based dual vocational programs?


This study involved the analyzing of an existing data set. The German Federal Institute for Vocational Education Research (BIBB)1 collected two sets of data in the former East Germany after reunification. The first set of data was collected in September 1993 and the second set was obtained in the fall of 1995. The purposes of the BIBB study were to report on (a) students’ transitions from secondary school into the dual vocational training system, (b) their perception of their vocational training program, and (c) their employment outlook.

In the BIBB study, 63 (15%) vocational schools from the 419 vocational schools available were randomly selected. All of the selected schools indicated a willingness to participate in the study. In 1993, the BIBB mailed questionnaires to the schools’ administrators, who subsequently distributed them to all 15,386 students who were enrolled in dual vocational training programs in the 63 schools (out of a total population of 80,165 third year students in 419 schools in the area under investigation). The BIBB received a total of 9,247 completed questionnaires (a return rate of 60.1%). The questionnaire contained one item in which students could indicate if they were willing to participate in a follow-up study. Of the 9,247 returned questionnaires, 2,627 (28%) students responded positively to the question and provided their addresses.

In November 1995, the BIBB conducted a follow-up study. A second questionnaire was mailed directly to the 2,627 people who had indicated a willingness to participate in the follow-up study. The follow-up questionnaire was specifically designed to provide insight into how successfully students had been able to transition from dual vocational training programs into the labor market. Items on the instrument ascertained students’ (a) current job situations, (b) preparation for comprehensive examinations toward the end of their programs, (c) results of comprehensive examinations, (d) employment during the first few months after graduation from their programs, (e) perceptions of their education in retrospect, and (f) perceptions of their future employment outlook. Data from the 1995 follow-up questionnaire were used in this study.


The 1995 BIBB questionnaire contained information from 901 respondents (a return rate of 34.3%), all of whom were enrolled in either a TVP or a NCP, beginning in 1990-1991 and graduating in 1993-1994. A total of 854 students (94.8% of a total of 901) completed their programs in 1993-1994. The 1995 BIBB group of students served as the sample for this study. Table 1 indicates the number of students completing each type of program and their employment status at the time of this investigation.


The 1995 questionnaire contained a total of 50 items that focused on: (a) the subjects’ current employment, (b) perceptions of the value of the subjects’ vocational training program (including information about students’ perceptions/experiences immediately before and after graduation), (c) perceptions of their professional advancement/development, and (d) demographic data such as area of residence, age, and gender.

Table 1
Sample, Grouped by Type of Program and by Employment Situation

Type of Program Employed Unemployed Other Total

TVP 457 57 155 669
NCP 83 43 48 174
Unknown* 11 11
Total 540 100 214 854

* = Type of program information was unavailable

A total of 12 items from the 1995 questionnaire corresponded to the research questions of this study. These items included indicators of training satisfaction (5 items), economic outcomes (3 items), and job satisfaction (4 items).


The two levels of the independent variable consisted of two delivery mechanisms of dual vocational training that exist in Germany (i.e., Traditional Dual Vocational Training Programs - TVPs, and Non-company Based Dual Vocational Programs — NCPs). Dependent variables consisted of (a) training satisfaction, (b) economic outcomes, and (c) job satisfaction.

Training Satisfaction Items

Five items on the questionnaire were used to measure training satisfaction. Three of these items were rated on a Likert-type scale. These included: (a) students’ ratings of the performance of their vocational school, including their level of satisfaction with their vocational training program; (b) students’ ratings of the performance of the company/institute where they were being trained, including their level of satisfaction with the applied aspect of their vocational training; and (c) their ratings of the relevance of training to their professional careers, including their perceptions of the value of the training for their futures.

The fourth indicator asked the students what they would do, in retrospect, if they had the opportunity to make the decision again. A total of six response options were given: (a) participate in an apprenticeship in the same profession, in the same company/institute, (b) participate in an apprenticeship in the same profession, but in a different company/institute, (c) participate in an apprenticeship in a different profession, (d) pursue employment as an unskilled laborer, (e) participate in a continuing education program, and (f) other. Students who chose the response "would participate in the same program in the same company/institute again" were assumed to be more satisfied with their program than students who selected other options. A final item asked how the subjects perceived their future outlook in the job market. Responses to this item ranged from very good to very poor.

Economic Outcome Indicators

Economic outcomes indicators included on the BIBB questionnaire were (a) hourly wage rate, (b) job security, and (c) employment rate. For hourly wage rate and job security, the population sample included only the employed graduates from both types of training programs. The analysis of employment rate data included all graduates from both types of training programs. Response options on this question were; (a) permanent employment, (b) temporary employment, (c) just a job, (d) unemployed, (e) continuing education, and (f) other.

Job Satisfaction Indicators

The BIBB questionnaire contained four indicators for job satisfaction. The items included (a) perceived degree of job challenge, (b) whether individuals were involved in searching for a new job, (c) extent to which individuals indicated a preference for remaining on their current jobs for an extended period of time, and (d) in the type of professional positions individuals were employed in (unskilled labor, skilled labor) during the time under investigation.


Training Satisfaction

A t-test was conducted on each of the first three and the fifth training satisfaction items. Data were reported on Likert-type scales ranging from one (very good) to five (very poor). A chi-square analysis was used on item number four.

What rating would you assign to the performance of your vocational school? All TVP and NCP apprentices attended the same vocational schools, shared the same teachers, and participated in identical courses. The t-test analysis revealed no statistically significant difference between how graduates from TVPs ( M = 2.417, SD = .783), t (845) = -1.3342, p < 0.18 and graduates form NCPs ( M = 2.505, SD = .778), t (845) = -1.3342, p < 0.18 rated the performance of the vocational school.

What rating would you assign to the degree of learning practical skills in the company/training institute where you were trained? The t-test revealed a statistically significant difference between how graduates from TVPs ( M = 2.629, SD = 1.019), t (843) = 3.5236, p <0.000 rated the degree of learning practical skills in their company and how graduates from NCPs ( M = 2.324, SD = 1.037), t (843) = 3.5236, p < 0.000 rated the degree of learning practical skills in their training institute. Graduates from NCPs assigned a more favorable rating to their training.

What rating would you assign to the value of your training program for your future? A t-test revealed a statistically significant difference: graduates from TVPs ( M = 2.405, SD = 0.965), t (230) = -2.8902, p < 0.000 assigned a more favorable rating to the value of their program for their professional future than did graduates from NCPs ( M = 2.690, SD = 1.194), t (230) = -2.8902, p < 0.000.

If you had to do it over again, what would you choose to do? A chi-square analysis conducted on this item revealed a statistically significant difference between the two groups regarding their perception of what they would do if they had to do it over again ( X 2 = 19.309, p < 0.002). One major contributor to the significant chi-square value was identified; significantly more subjects of NCPs said they would rather have entered the labor market without any vocational training. All other categories did not contribute significantly to the chi-square value.

How do you estimate your professional future? A t-test conducted on this item suggested that there was a statistically significant difference between graduates from TVPs ( M = 2.5319), t (175) = 1.31, p < 0.0198 and NCPs ( M = 2.9659), t(175) = 1.31, p < 0.0198. Graduates from TVPs rated their professional outlook significantly better than did their counterparts from NCPs. Major reasons for this difference can be traced back to the employment situation of graduates from NCPs (significantly higher unemployment rates than graduates from TVPs).

Assuming that each of the five discussed variables contributed an equal amount to the degree of satisfaction with the respective training programs, graduates from TVPs were more satisfied than graduates from NCPs. However, an equally weighing assumption is probably misleading. Based on the literature review, the two variables that directly measured training satisfaction (i.e., the ratings for learning practical skills and those for the performance of the vocational school) should receive a higher weight. Items relating to an individual’s professional future measure training satisfaction indirectly and should receive lower weights. Thus, caution should be used in interpreting the results of this dimension.

The higher ratings from graduates of NCPs for learning practical skills suggested that these programs might have provided superior practical training. This notion was reinforced by the responses of TVP graduates indicating that they had experienced a tendency to be assigned to menial and non-training-related tasks. However, the political realities are that TVP-trained individuals are better received by industry and policy makers. Therefore, the professional outlook for graduates from those programs remains justifiably more positive.

Economic Outcomes

What is your current professional status? Chi-square analysis revealed a statistically significant difference between the two groups in terms of their professional status ( X 2 = 45.727, p < 0.000). Three major contributors to the significant chi-square value were (a) significantly fewer subjects than expected in NCPs were currently employed in a permanent job, (b) significantly fewer subjects in TVPs were unemployed than expected, and (c) significantly more subjects who graduated from NCPs than expected were unemployed.

Is your current job permanent? The second chi-square analysis included only employed graduates from either program type. The analysis revealed no statistically significant difference between employed graduates of TVPs and employed graduates of NCPs as they related to this item ( X 2 = 2.136, p < 0.144).

What is your hourly net-wage rate? A t-test conducted on the hourly net-wage rate provided an interval scale. There was a statistically significant difference in the wage rate as it related to graduation from the two program types. Graduates from TVPs ( M = 9.41 Deutschmarks per hour , SD = 2.46), t (1) = 7.12, p < 0.0053) earned significantly more than their NCP counterparts (M = 8.47 Deutschmarks per hour, SD = 3.25), t (1) = 7.12, p < 0.0053).

Based on the findings of the economic outcome indicators, graduates from TVPs fared better economically in the workplace than did their NCP counterparts. However, it is important to note that, based on the findings of this research, differences in economic outcomes should not reflect differences in the quality of the programs. Rather, evidence suggests that differences could be due to lingering apprehension about NCPs within both industry and government. This could also have been a reason for the more negative ratings of items dealing with the future professional outlook of NCP graduates.

Analysis of Job Satisfaction

Chi-square analyses conducted on the first items dealing with job satisfaction (i.e., To what extent are you professionally or occupationally challenged by your job? Are you currently trying to find a new job? Would you like to keep your current job for an extended period of time?) revealed no statistically significant difference between employed graduates from TVPs and employed graduates from NCPs.

A chi-square analysis of the fourth item, "In what occupational category are you currently employed?", revealed a statistically significant difference between graduates of the two program types ( X 2 = 9.57, p < 0001). The main contributor to the significant chi-square value was the unskilled labor category. More graduates of NCPs than expected were observed to work in jobs unrelated to their training.

In summary, no statistically significant differences were found between employed graduates from both types of training programs related to degree of challenge, desire to find a new job, and their desire to retain their current jobs for an extended time period. Thus, the level of job satisfaction of employed graduates from both training programs appears to be quite similar. However, employed TVP program graduates appear to have a higher degree of job satisfaction when employed in training-related fields. Additional research is needed to assess employers’ satisfaction with employees who graduated from NCPs and TVPs.

Discussion and Implications

Based on the training satisfaction indicators, graduates’ perceptions of the quality of the programs were comparable. This finding was also supported by indicators of job satisfaction of employed graduates from both program types. Since there were no statistically significant differences on three of the four indicators, it was concluded that job satisfaction was very similar for graduates from both types of training programs.

The most distinct difference between the two types of training programs occurred with the economic outcomes indicators. This is consistent with the literature, which states economic outcomes are frequently identified as a key indicator of training program success. In this study, economic differences appear to be a result of industry preference for graduates from traditional training programs. Differences in economic outcomes are probably due to persistent perception in industry that these traditional training programs are of superior quality.

It is important to note that, despite some difference in perception, both types of programs have proved to be beneficial to industry and youth. Unemployment rates of young people in Germany are among the lowest in Europe. Dual vocational training programs have provided a smooth transition from general school into the workforce. Nevertheless, placement rates for graduates of TVPs were considerably higher than for graduates of NCPs.

The findings of this study have implications for the continuation and further development of NCPs for both German industry and education. Since NCPs are publicly financed and are less dependent on business cycles, these programs could conceivably be implemented as a viable dual vocational training option. This option could be particularly attractive and effective during recessions, when industry may be less able (or willing) to provide training opportunities in traditional dual vocational programs. The preference of industry to hire graduates from publicly financed programs is increasing. This trend could result in a further decline of training opportunities in TVPs but also may lead to a greater need for NCPs.

A greater demand for non-company-based programs by industry would lead to further improvement of these programs. In this study, graduates from NCPs rated lower on items related to the future outlook of their programs. However, if demand for these programs were to increase, NCP graduates would likely be considerably more optimistic about their futures. Furthermore, the placement rates for graduates from NCPs would likely increase because of the declining number of companies offering TVPs. If NCPs become more acceptable to industry, the net-income gap between graduates of TVPs and NCPs could decline.

The net-income gap between graduates of the two programs indicated an income discrepancy. However, nothing in this research indicates that this discrepancy should be attributed to differences in program quality. Existing differences may have been due to the close relationship employers have with graduates of their own TVP programs. Mechanisms need to be implemented for developing similar kinds of relationships between graduates of NCPs and their future employers.

Non-company-based dual vocational programs appear to represent a viable supplement to traditional vocational education in Germany. At the same time, it is important to note that the government currently views those programs as a "temporary" arrangement necessary to overcome current training deficits. However, there is increasing support for continuing the development of these programs after the current deficits have been overcome, especially due to the shrinking numbers of options in TVPs. A competitive vocational education system including TVPs and NCPs might lead to higher standards and quality of dual vocational education in Germany.

Based on this study, approximately 10% of graduates from both program types chose to enroll in continuing education programs rather than being employed after graduation from their training program. While this could be due to a lack of job opportunities, continuing education remained attractive to many graduates of both vocational program types. This interest in continuing education could further reduce industry’s interest in providing TVPs. Companies could be increasingly reluctant to invest heavily in apprentices if trainees discontinue employment immediately upon graduation in order to pursue continuing education. These factors could erode the strong support of and preference for TVPs since they could come to represent a significant loss of return on their investment.

Implications for the United States

Dual vocational training has proven to be beneficial to both young persons and employers in Germany. Youth unemployment rates in Germany are low compared to other European countries. In addition, non-college bound students are provided with viable career options which have kept drop-out rates to a minimum.

The German experience with traditional vocational training programs and NCPs could provide useful models for American educators and industry. Models similar to both programs have been successfully introduced in various locations around the United States. Based on the success of those programs, it is expected that industry will become more involved in these forms of vocational training. It also seems logical that industrial and community colleges should develop a stronger mutual basis for the development of dual training programs. While industry provides the bulk of practical training, community colleges could play a major role in delivering the underlying theoretical structures related to specific skills.

Both NCPs and TVPs require a certain amount of industry involvement. American industry might be more likely to accept training programs if they are similar to NCPs, especially since the current design of NCPs limits industry’s involvement in internships. This could represent an important first step toward developing a stronger industry commitment to vocational education. The commitment and responsibility of industry could be increased by establishing and nurturing non-company-based programs. In America, industries could explore company based apprenticeship options without the "baggage" of responsibility associated with establishing TVPs as they are practiced in Germany. In the German model, industry not only takes the primary responsibility for vocational training, but it is also the main financial sponsor.

With the introduction of additional dual models in the United States, another step toward further inclusion of industry into vocational education could be accomplished. As these emerging models develop, it will be important to continue research related to the variables in this study (i.e., economic variables, training, and job satisfaction). Additionally, empirical research is needed on employer’s satisfaction with graduates from those programs. Research should also be conducted on the feasibility of such models for a wider range of companies in the United States. Such a feasibility study could yield a broader awareness of the potential for new models of dual vocational education in the U.S.


Schmidt is a Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, Technology and Industry Education program area, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri.


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Reference Citation: Schmidt, K. A comparative study of two delivery mechanisms of dual vocational training in Germany: Implications for vocational training in the United States. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education , 35(3), 24-43.