What is vocational training? – Definition and meaning in Germany and the impact of Corona in 2022


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Vocational training is training in a state-recognized profession, which is mainly completed in the dual system.

A vocational training relationship does not serve the purpose of earning money (even if the trainees receive a training allowance). It’s main purpose is to make sure trainees learn a specific profession before they can enter into a full employment relationship. This “learning” can take place both in the form of an apprenticeship and in the form of a course of study.

vocational training

Principles of vocational training

Vocational Training is training for a specific job.

Some essential terms

  • Apprentice: This is the person who is being trained and who has signed an apprenticeship contract.
  • Trainer/Trainer: This is e.g. the company that hires someone for vocational training and concludes a vocational training contract with him/her.
  • Trainer: This is the person who is responsible for the entire implementation of the training in the company. This can be the owner himself or an authorized person.
  • Training facility: The training facility is the place where the training is carried out.
  • Training regulations: There is training regulation for every state-recognized training occupation. It contains the name of the training occupation and determines the duration, content, and objective of the vocational training. In detail, these contents are regulated in the training job description, in the general training plan, and the examination requirements.
  • Training consultants: The Chamber of Industry and Commerce monitors the implementation of the vocational training and supports it by advising the trainees and the companies.


Suitability of the training company

Only “suitable” companies are allowed to train in state-recognized professions. The prerequisites for suitability include, in particular, that the company has the facilities required for the respective job profile, a corresponding business or production profile, and a sufficient number of suitable specialists.

The basis for your training is the Vocational Training Act. The training takes place in the so-called “dual system”. The partner of the training company is the vocational school. It should impart its subject matter in coordination with the company training. Schooling is compulsory for all trainees during the period of vocational training.

vocational training

Duration and completion of vocational training

The duration of the training is specified in the training regulations. Depending on the training occupation, it is between 2 and 3.5 years. However, the actual training period can be extended or shortened. It is regulated in the respective vocational training contract.

Reasons for a possible shortening are:

  • taking the final exam early
  • Shortening of the training due to an imputation regulation (example: attending the school-based basic vocational training year enables the training period to be shortened by one year or by half a year for two-year training occupations)
  • Apprentice’s application for a reduction in training time; the responsible chamber (e.g. the chamber of industry and commerce) can approve this application after hearing business and school

Reasons for the extension are:

  • Application of the trainee for an extension of the training period
  • Failure to pass the final examination (up to the next possible repeat examination, by a maximum of one year)

Possibilities of shortening the training period by crediting a previous school attendance:

Reasons for shorteningLength
Fachoberschulreife – High school diploma or equivalent qualificationup to 6 months
Proof of technical college entrance qualificationup to 12 months
General University Entrance Qualificationup to 12 months
Completed vocational trainingup to 12 months
Relevant basic vocational training (vocational school year)6 months or 12 months (depending on duration)
Relevant professional activity or work experience in the professional field6 months or 12 months (depending on duration)
Entry Qualification (EQ)max. 6 months (with 12 months EQ)
Age over 21 yearsup to 12 months

Vocational training trial period

The vocational training relationship begins with a probationary period, which must last at least one month and may not exceed four months. During this time, in which the partners should get to know each other, the training relationship can be terminated in writing by either party without notice and without giving reasons.

vocational training

Costs, benefits and financing of vocational training

The costs for vocational training are borne jointly by companies, individuals, and the state. All three parties should benefit from this in the medium to long term: The economy through the qualified specialists, the young people through higher wages and a lower risk of unemployment, and the state, for example through higher tax revenues and lower expenditure on the social security systems.

Quality assurance and development in vocational training

Questions of quality assurance in vocational training have become significantly more relevant at both national and European levels. The professional skills of the people of Europe are seen as a crucial resource for the competitiveness of the European economies.

What you need to know about the rights and obligations of trainees in vocational training

Whenever you conclude a contract, you are granted rights and imposed obligations. This is no different from an apprenticeship contract. This regulates the rights and obligations of the two contractual partners, i.e. your rights and obligations as a trainee on the one hand and the rights and obligations of your training company on the other.

Rights and obligationsWhat you need to know
Training contractNo training without paperwork! But what exactly does the training contract say? And which contract content is not legally permitted? Here you can find out what you need to look out for in your training contract.
Termination in trainingWhat do you have to do if you want to quit during the trial period? What are the reasons for termination? And what is the difference between ordinary and immediate termination? 
Working hours for young people under the age of 18Between training in the company, periods at vocational school and break times, it is easy to lose track. We have summarized here which working hours are permitted and which rules apply to you if you are still a minor.
Overtime and minus hoursFirst a high order situation, then a slump – in many industries, seasonal fluctuations are part of everyday work. But can your training company actually demand that you work overtime? And what happens when there is not so much to do?
Sick in trainingSuddenly ill during training? Reporting sick to the training company and the vocational school is one of your duties as an apprentice. We will explain to you what you have to consider when reporting sick and how the continued payment of wages and sickness benefit actually works.
Report bookletKeeping a report book or proof of training is an important duty of trainees. Whether by hand or with special software on the PC – with our tips and tricks, writing the report booklet is very easy.
vocational training

What rights and obligations do trainees and employers have?

Do you have your apprenticeship contract in your pocket and are looking forward to the new challenges? At the same time, you are a bit unsure about the most important rights of you and your trainer? To give you a better perspective, we have put together the most important information for you. So nothing can happen to you in your training!

The most important duties of an apprentice

Section 13 of the Vocational Training Act (BBiG) regulates how you have to behave as an apprentice during your vocational training. There are seven duties in particular:

  1. Careful Execution: Complete the tasks assigned to you properly and carefully.
  2. Compulsory participation in vocational school classes: You are obligated to take part in training measures, e.g. vocational school lessons because this is where the theoretical part of your training will be taught.
  3. Follow instructions: You must follow the instructions of your trainers or other persons authorized to issue instructions as long as they are related to your training. So if you have to clean, tidy up or do “issues” from the boss (like picking up his clothes from the dry cleaner) all day long, the training goal to be achieved is far from being achieved.
  4. Maintaining order at your workplace: Certain rules of the order apply at every workplace, e.g.  Dress code, safety or accident prevention regulations, regulations on protective clothing, smoking ban, etc. Even if you think some of them are superfluous: stick to them!
  5. Careful treatment: You must treat tools, machines, and other equipment such as your computer with care and may only use them for the activities assigned to you.
  6. Confidentiality: You are obliged to maintain secrecy about trade and business secrets. If you are unsure, ask what is confidential and what is not.
  7. Keeping a training certificate: In your report book, you write which activities you carried out during your training. Trainees must present the fully completed and signed report booklet to the responsible chamber, ie chamber of crafts, industry, or commerce for the final examination and in some professions also for the intermediate examination to be admitted to the examination. So keep your written training records regularly and conscientiously and prepare well for the exams

The rights of an apprentice

Of course, your training company also has obligations that it must fulfill if it establishes an apprenticeship relationship with you and concludes an apprenticeship contract. The most important obligations of the training company are also your rights as an apprentice. They are regulated in Sections 14, 15, and 16 of the BBiG:

  1. Right to training: Your training company must ensure that you can achieve the training goal within the time allotted. For each training occupation, there is a training regulation with a chronological structure, which regulates how long your training lasts and what knowledge and skills are to be imparted to you. Of course, a prerequisite is your willingness to perform, ie your constant effort to learn the necessary knowledge and skills.
  2. Appropriate trainers: You have the right to a qualified trainer who is responsible for your professional training. For example, your trainer has completed vocational training, has sufficient professional experience, and has passed an examination by the Trainer Aptitude Ordinance (AEVO) .
  3. Free training materials: Your employer must provide you with all the materials, tools, and materials required for your training and/or your exam free of charge. These include, for example, specialist books, desk pads, hair scissors, drawing and writing materials.
  4. Lessons: Your training company is obliged to release you to attend vocational school.
  5. Duty of care: Your training company must help you develop your character and ensure that you are not endangered morally or physically.
  6. Report book: Your training company is obliged to ask you to keep your report book and to look through it regularly. You can even keep your report book during working hours.
  7. Appropriate Tasks: The tasks given to you by your instructor must serve the purpose of the training. Conversely, this means that if the task to be performed does not relate to your education, you have the right to refuse to work. Exceptions confirm the rule here too: Of course, making coffee all day is not one of your tasks, but if every one of your colleagues does it, it’s your turn. Other examples of so-called “non-training activities” – i.e. all tasks that do not serve the purpose of the training or exceed your physical strain, can be:
    • Vacation and sickness cover
    • Private errands for your colleagues or your boss
    • Regular cleaning of workshops and offices – exceptions are your workplace and the work equipment you use
    • Piece work and assembly line work
  8. Time off: Your company is obliged to give you time off for vocational school, examinations, and other training events outside of the training facility.
  9. Certificate: After the end of the training relationship, your trainer must give you a written certificate. Contents such as duration, type, and goal of the vocational training are part of it. Tip: A distinction is made between simple and qualified certificates. If you want your certificate to include performance and behavioral assessment, you should ask for a qualified training certificate.
vocational training

Corona and training: The consequences for students and trainees

Corona has turned our lives completely upside down. Schools and training companies are gradually returning to a new “normal”, but there are still a lot of questions: How do I find an apprenticeship position in these difficult times? What is the best way to apply? How does the training work in times of Corona? Below is all the important information to help you get well prepared for your training in and after Corona times.

Can I apply for an apprenticeship despite Corona?

Of course, you can also apply for an apprenticeship during the corona crisis. And you should do the same! Classic job interviews are still difficult, but in times of online applications and video interviews, that’s not a problem.

Incidentally, in our detailed application guide you will find valuable information on the subject and get helpful tips on your CV, cover letter and more.

How do I find an apprenticeship in times of Corona?

Even in times of Corona, training companies are looking for new trainees. Apprentices are wanted in all areas, but there are some sectors and professions in which apprentices are particularly urgently needed. For example, many trainees are wanted for nursing training. But companies in other sectors are also happy to welcome new trainees.

You will find more than 5,000 companies and more than 50,000 apprenticeships on Training.de – there is certainly something for you. Have a look at our page with current apprenticeship positions.

Basically, you have two search options when looking for your dream training place:

  • What?: Here you can either search for your dream job or your dream company.
  • Where?: This gives you the opportunity to search for training positions in a specific city.

What does Corona mean for the application process?

Corona has digitized the application process at many companies. Most companies now offer telephone or video interviews. Sometimes even video applications are possible.

What are the long term consequences of the corona virus on training?

The Corona crisis hit the training market hard. Some training companies have had to send their trainees on short-time work, while other companies have gone completely bankrupt. As a result, some trainees have unfortunately lost their training place. Although this is only a small part, it is of course a bad situation for the trainees affected. 

Many trainees and training companies are overwhelmed by the corona crisis. There are often a lot of question marks, especially when it comes to legal issues. That’s why we’ve briefly summarized for you what you need to know as an apprentice.

Is there a mandatory test in the workplace?

Yes there is! Since November 24, 2021, there have been stricter rules in the workplace throughout Germany. Employees may only enter the company if they have been vaccinated, recovered or tested. This also applies to you as an apprentice. There is only an exception if you have yourself tested directly on site, i.e. in the company. Important: A quick test done at home is not valid.

Where you can get tested:

  • test center
  • doctor’s office
  • operation

If you are not vaccinated, your negative rapid test result must not be older than 24 hours. A negative PCR test result is valid for 48 hours. Your boss is obliged to provide you and your colleagues with corona tests twice a week. You must then take the test under the supervision of your employer or a person commissioned by him. By the way, the time you wait for your test result does not count as working time. You are not entitled to a salary during this time.

Your employer is also obliged to check and document the evidence. You can prove your vaccination via a corresponding app or your vaccination book. However, he may not officially save whether you have been vaccinated – it only counts whether you can show proof. There are exceptions in facilities such as daycare centers, nursing homes and schools.

In any case, find out from your supervisor which corona measures apply in your company. Some companies also require daily rapid tests from vaccinated people.

Vaccination in nursing professions

On December 10, 2021, the federal government passed a new law on corona vaccination. It was included in the Infection Protection Act and stipulates that certain professional groups must be fully vaccinated by March 15th, 2022. This applies to all professions that deal with people who are particularly worthy of protection and in need of care, i.e. sick or old people, children, or people with disabilities. In all inpatient, semi-inpatient, or outpatient facilities in which people are treated or cared for, or where there is close contact with people, there is an obligation to show proof of vaccination.

Which training courses will become more important after Corona?

What will happen to my professional future after Corona? This is a question that is becoming more and more important – more and more people are vaccinated and the world of work will soon start turning again. 

Corona has also changed the choice of job: Which jobs are crisis-proof? Where do I have the chance to develop myself in the future? Which professions are becoming more important or which remain relevant, even if another crisis turns the world upside down?

From 2022 onwards, the so-called systemically important professions will become more desirable. These include, for example, commercial professions, professions in the fields of healing, care, education, and social affairs, or professions in public administration. Many jobs in the media are also systemically relevant, as are occupations in supply, such as in hydroelectric or power plants or the environmental and food sectors. But you will also have good chances of getting a job in other industries after the pandemic – because some professions were practically on hold and will soon come to life again.

Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany


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