Up-scaling and mainstreaming sustainable building practices in western China
Up-scaling and mainstreaming sustainable building practices in western China 

Dual vocational training in Germany

Vocational courses are single job-specific courses typically taught in high school career and technical education programs or technical colleges. Graduates of such training programs most often find jobs easier than comparable general education graduates at a similar level mostly due to the fact they are better skilled to the task at hand and thus are more relevant to the employers’ needs (Thompson 2013).

The Dual-Vocational System is a popular, well recognised qualification method in Germany. Germany has, in part due to this training, a higher than average proportion of persons with upper secondary level qualifications of 58.7%, the EU average being 46.6%. This is also in part due to the fact that, in many professions in Germany, it is recognised as a professional qualification by the relevant professional boards. These professions are called regulated professions. For example, medical professions, legal professions, teachers at state schools, public service professions as well as many professions in the construction industry are regulated.

With the demand for sustainable construction many construction vocational programs have also introduced sustainable green building content as core aspects of the training. High demand has also led to the creation of new training programmes specifically on sustainable and green building construction.

In total there are around 350 officially recognized dual-vocational training programmes. The German vocational training offers training in the basic areas of construction in:

  • Civil Engineering (Underground)
  • Civil Engineering (Above ground)
  • Interiors and Finishings


In addition there are careers that are overlapping with the building industry, these being:

  • Commercial Trades
  • Trades involving Construction machines


Unlike pure vocational or other higher learning, a school leaving certificate is not a pre-requisite for a dual-vocational training as the requirements for the qualifications needed are made by the companies themselves. However, the better the qualifications the better the chance that a trainee might be taken by a company. (Note: Other forms of training in Germany such School-based vocational training or dual-vocational degree however require a school leaving degree or university entrance qualification respectively). Dual-training programs start either on the 1st of August or 1st of September each year to be able to take up the school leavers directly after the summer.

Depending on the training the time varies but last usually between two to three and half years. During this period the trainee spends either one to two days a week or blocks of several weeks at once at a vocational school (Berufsschule) for theoretical training with the rest consisting of practical on the job training. The rest of the time is spent with on-site training.

During the vocational training participants are paid for their work from the first day, during their on-the- job training, by the companies that they are working for. On average the salary is around 795 Euros gross. This varies depending on region and training. Salary increases with every year further training. This of course, among other things, as the longer the trainee learns, as well as works for a company, the more productive they become. In addition holidays of up to 24 days are granted under the system, however these can only be taken in the vocational school holidays.

Examinations are held after the first half of the training as a learning control and proof of on the job skill learning. Further final exams are held at the end of the training.

At the end of the training the participants are fully qualified for their profession and around two thirds of all trainees are hired by the companies at which they do their training. This is due to the fact that both parties benefit from this schemes as both sides already know the other, their operation and the training has covered the needs of both parties. This prospect, of trainees being hired on completion of a vocational training, being very high is one of the reasons for its popularity in Germany.








Importance of reasons for apprenticeship training, as percentage of training companies

Source: BIBB Cost-Benefit Survey 2012/13

For more good practice examples download our Training Handbook: Sustainable Construction.