Gap Analysis in book-format

Reference Project and Case Studies

In Germany exists a statistical and valid under-representation of people with migrant background in Initial Vocational Education and Training (IVET). This IVET in Germany is the predominant start for a (non-academic) professional career and it can have different forms and formats, but it is always based on a bilateral (double sided) structure, called dual apprenticeship. This IVET combines in-company training with theoretical lessons in vocational schools.The system is described as dual because training is conducted in these two places of learning - companies and vocational schools.

Access to vocational training is the critical juncture in school-to-work transitions.

Students without or with only lower secondary qualifications in many cases do not manage to enter vocational training right after leaving school1. The German VET system reinforces inequalities resulting from stratification within the German school system.

The apprenticeship training qualifies people for a variety of manufacturing or commercial occupations. The majority of graduates with a vocational certificate go into the labour market directly after completing their training. However, they also have the option to enter higher education or advanced vocational training.

Despite its seemingly robustness even in times of economic crisis, the German system has gradually become less responsive to the needs of the economy as a whole, due to several reasons2:

  • The transition to a knowledge-based economy often creates greater demands for theoretical and transferable skills than for practical knowledge and initial vocational training skills. The German system is mainly applied in domestically oriented companies in traditional trades, but the rapidly growing knowledge-based services are only sparsely represented within this system.
  • The curricula-based approach of the German apprenticeship system is slower and less flexible to adaptations than a modularised and competence based system. The adaptability of the German dual apprenticeship is limited in terms of changing skills needs and new methods of delivering training.
  • The ageing of the workforce creates a bigger need for lifelong learning activities and not just initial training. In Germany the participation rates in CPD are still not sufficient.
  • Higher education is more attractive to very capable young people and thus weakens the intellectual basis of the apprenticeship.

The situation for people with a migrant background is similar in the countries that are involved in this project 3: migrants face substantial disadvantages when it comes to vocational education and training and jobs. Although the level of disadvantage and discrimination may differ in diverse categories (from country to country, from region to region, from group to group, from sector to sector and so on), the overall picture keeps being confirmed, that the educational achievements of migrants are often lower compared to people without a migrant background, and thus the achieved vocational careers, are often lower than the ones of people without a migrant background. In Europe citizens of migrant origin are almost always overrepresented across most socio-economic indicators of disadvantage 4.

Considering the information above, an assumption of this Gap Analysis is that VET can improve the access to the labour market. The case studies chosen allow the verification of this assumption amongst others.

All of the examined 18 projects were specifically dedicated to VET-objectives and the integration of migrants into the labour market.

The projects were conducted in the last decade and they lasted between 3 months and 7 years. Accordingly, the compared projects vary significantly in terms of size and budget; there are small-scale projects that strictly depended on people working on a voluntary basis and without substantial cost headings up to projects with an annual budget of about 1.000.000 EUR.

1 Kohlrausch, Bettina, Youth Unemployment in Germany - Skill Biased Patterns of Labour Market Integration, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 2012.

2 Cedefop REFER NET, VET in Europe – Country Report Germany, 2011; See also Cedefop Panorama Series 138: U. Hippach-Schneider, M. Krause, C. Woll, Vocational education and training in Germany, 2007.

3 Tjaden, Jasper Dag: What can international comparisons of outcomes and policies tell us about goof practices of migrant education,
Itinera Institut Discussion Paper 2012, p. 1.

4 Vidhya Ramalingam, Integration: what works? Institute for Strategic Dialogue 2013, p. 1.