International Vocational Education & Training

What are skilled crafts?

The Skilled crafts sector covers occupations and trades that mainly engage in individual small-scale production as well as in maintenance and repair. To put it in a nutshell: individual products and solutions are the focus and strength of the skilled crafts sector.

The skilled crafts sector comprises more than 130 occupations in the following areas:

  • building and interior finishing trades;
  • electrical and metalworking trades;
  • woodcrafts and plastic trades;
  • clothing, textiles and leather crafts and trades;
  • food crafts and trades;
  • health and body care trades as well as chemical and cleaning sector;
  • and graphic design.

Which occupations belong to the skilled crafts sector in Germany is not regulated via the company size or turnover but by law. In Germany, the Trade and Crafts Code determines which occupations are part of the skilled crafts sector and which qualifications are required as a prerequisite for self-employment in specific trades.

Szene aus der Arbeit eines Zahntechnikers

What is dual vocational education and training?

Dual vocational education and training is the central pillar of human resource development in the skilled crafts sector. Vocational education and training is offered within the framework of a dual system of education conducted in two places of learning: enterprises and vocational schools. It combines practical work and learning in enterprises with reflective theoretical education in a vocational school. After three to three and a half years the training concludes with the skilled worker‘s examination. The governance of vocational education and training is built on a strong partnership between state, employers and trade unions. That means that both market and state control the content of vocational education and training.

To elaborate further, dual vocational education and training has two outstanding features. One feature is the involvement of employers and their businesses in the training process. Employers train learners on the spot in the company, applying skills on a daily basis. In addition, mandated representatives of employers  and employees participate in the curricula development process in their respective trade. That way they crucially contribute to adapting the content of training and examination in line with the actual needs of real-world business requirements.

The other characteristic of dual vocational education and training are the places of learning, i.e  the business or workshop as one learning site and the school as the other. In some cases, an additional place of learning is used: inter-company vocational training facilities that serve several businesses in a connected sector of skilled crafts. These autonomous learning venues complement each other, and the instruction at each venue is coordinated with instruction content at other the places of learning. On the one hand, this enables enterprises to offer apprenticeships, who without intercompany training options may not be able to cover the whole range of business processes that the occupation’s training regulation determines. On the other hand, intercompany training contributes to trainees developing a holistic set of competencies that enable them to solve complex problems in the present and adapt to future challenges.