Dual education: a win-win situation for companies and graduates
Dual education in a vocational training college or a university of cooperative education combines theory and practice. Companies bear some of the costs and benefit from the practically relevant skills of the trained professionals.
Striking a balance between theory and practice is no simple task. This is particularly true in the education sector. A study conducted by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research has established that university graduates often find it difficult to translate their theoretical knowledge into practice. For some years now, this has been one of the main reasons why every third employment relationship involving university graduates in Germany is terminated even before the trial period is over.
Dual education at a vocational training academy
Dual education, which alternates between education in a vocational training academy and in a company, is geared more towards practice. The subjects offered mainly include engineering, economics, information technology, nursing care and social work. The vocational training academy provides the theoretical knowledge, while the companies offer practical training for the students. At the end of the three-year course, the students graduate not only with a bachelor’s degree but also with a vocational training certificate from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK).
Advantage: well-trained professionals who know the company
In order to attend dual courses, students are required to have qualified for university and to have a training or internship contract with a company. A contract is not easy to come by. Companies usually have a number of applicants to choose from, and can select those who best fit their needs. They then invest substantial amounts of money in training these candidates.
The company Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, for example, bears all the tuition fees for students studying electrical engineering at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) in Mannheim, in addition to paying them a monthly training allowance. This makes the students financially more independent and allows them to devote their undivided attention to their studies – which they need to do, as the courses are very demanding.
After completing their course, the students emerge as well-trained professionals who are familiar with everyday working life in the training company. They know the ‘corporate culture’ and are already an integral part of the company’s networks.
Dual education: an export hit from Germany
The dual education system in Germany has been a successful export product for 50 years and has been adopted by other European countries and by China, Indonesia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Bandung State Polytechnic in Indonesia, for example, has adopted the dual education concept and is cooperating with the vocational academy in Lörrach (BA Lörrach). The cooperation arrangement involves harmonising courses, particularly in the technical field, as well as conducting an exchange programme for Indonesian and German students and lecturers. The advantages of practice-oriented education are relevant to many countries worldwide. This is an opinion shared by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which, in 2012, launched an innovation competition for vocational education projects in developing countries.
Vocational training academies and universities of cooper
Since March 2009, it has also been possible to attend dual courses at universities of cooperative education in Germany. In contrast to a vocational training academy, the students of a university of cooperative education can also pursue a master’s degree after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. The career prospects in both cases are good. Bernhard Schreier, Chairman of the Board at Heidelberger Druckmachinen AG, is well aware of this. He himself is an alumnus of DHBW Mannheim.
Community discussion about dual vocational training