"Double qualifications" within the dual system in Germany
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 Comment (in Finnish)
Issue The pilot projects presented in this review are conditioned to a considerable extent by the specifically German differentiation drawn between vocational and general education. The route of double qualification offers a vocational certificate and the qualification to study in higher education, opportunities which otherwise can only be attained in different traditional educational school types which stand in isolation from each other. These traditional school types continue to operate within the context of the differentiated treatment of vocational and general education - despite the fact that two large-scale all-encompassing reforms of the school system as a whole have attempted to eradicate the problem.
    This situation has led to the paradox that young people pursue Gymnasium courses in order to obtain the Abitur not only because they believe it will secure them entry to the university, but also because they believe that they will then have a solid base from which to secure a traineeship (in certain intellectually demanding vocations). Seen from this perspective, it becomes only too apparent that educational measures offering double qualifications would, in many instances, indeed make good sense.  (S.M. ed. 14/09/99 - based on Bremer & Kusch 1999)
The starting points of the German dual model of vocational education and training, where vocational and general education are in practice separate systems, is quite different from the Finnish model of vocational education and the Finnish tradition of developing vocational education. In Finland, efforts to develop vocational education have had the aim of integrating general education and vocational competence in that vocational programmes are intended to deliver a broad-based general vocational education. Completing a Finnish vocational qualification demands both wide-ranging vocational competencies and the general education and eligibility for further and higher education needed in society and working life. 
    It appears difficult to bring together German vocational training, where the aim is the provision of enterprise-oriented vocational competencies, and a distinct general education provision delivered under a separate curriculum in a way that would ensure the overall development of the student's general vocational competence. Experiments looking for means of achieving their unification are highly interesting. (S-L.K. 07/06/01)
Measure Two pilot projects are described:
(a) Duale Berufsausbildung und Fachhochschulreife (dual vocational education and access qualification for higher-level studies) in Bavaria;
(b) Schwarze Pumpe (name of a brown coal production firm) in Brandenburg.
The objective in both cases is to enable trainees within the dual system of vocational training to obtain the necessary certificates and qualifications needed both to complete an initial vocational training (Facharbeiterbrief) and to enter higher-level studies at a Fachhochschule.
    The time frame within which these qualifications can be achieved is of shorter organisational duration than traditionally would be (or is) the case (pilot project duration is 3 to 3 ½ years, while the standard vocational training takes 3 ½ years with an additional Fachoberschule/Berufsoberschule course of 1 to 2 years). 
    Unlike previous modes of double qualification, both pilot projects noted above are being carried out with the close co-operation and involvement of the training enterprises. This participation offers an educational model, and thus a methodological and didactic strategy, which closely aligns higher learning (preparation for the Fachhochschule) with vocational hands-on training. Students learn by doing. Theory and practice go hand in hand. 
    Both pilot projects must respect the legal regulations and/or existing educational/training requirements (involving a minimum of instructional time that must be spent on covering core subjects and subject matter). Nevertheless, because the co-operation of the pilot project partners allows for training/instruction to take place at only one site of learning (either at the school or enterprise), a time saving mechanism is guaranteed. In this way the reduction of the length of training does not mean that the transmission of general or, for that matter, vocational knowledge or know-how is necessarily reduced. 
    Furthermore, an additional opportunity becomes available. This involves the development of new curricular projects that integrate general and vocational contents and thus also save time. Moreover, such elements of the Fachoberschule/Berufsoberschule which generally - with the exception of the field of technology - are of an apparently theoretical nature, in actual fact fit into the curricula of vocational education very well. This also applies to foreign language instruction. (S.M. ed. 14/09/99 - based on Bremer & Kusch 1999)
The two experiments described in the article provided students with a double qualification, that is, both a vocational qualification and eligibility for Fachhochschulen, acquired in the same or even shorter time than it would take to complete a vocational qualification alone. The experiments were carried out in close collaboration with enterprises by making theoretical studies a part of learning at the workplace. Apparently they involved experiments primarily with teaching methods.
    The experiments have enhanced the attractiveness of vocational education and training by improving vocational students' access to further and higher education. Improved access to further and higher education alleviates the problem of enterprise-oriented training that arises when the enterprise closes down or when the employment situation otherwise deteriorates. 
    As I see it, the integration of studies giving eligibility for further or higher education with occupation-specific studies at the workplace is a highly constructive starting point. I think that the experiments have demonstrated that it is possible to study elements of theory also at work and that training for occupational skills generates also competencies needed in further and higher education. This raises the question of whether a vigorous separation of theoretical studies and practical occupation-specific training is justified in the first place. After all, we are speaking about the overall development of one and the same person. Such a separation may also mean that the theoretical knowledge acquired during one's theoretical studies never becomes a part of one's occupational skills.
    Another issue that made me think was how the educational objectives, the criterion for selecting the studies to be integrated, had been defined. Was the experiment only about enriching vocational competencies by integrating theoretical studies into workplace-based studies or had the objectives been discussed or defined at any length from the perspective of the student's overall development? In Finland, the objectives set for vocational education and training stress, even on the level of legislation, promoting the overall development of the student's personality alongside their acquisition of occupational skills. From the student's point of view, this stems from a wish to guarantee not only occupational development but also the other competencies needed to participate in society and working life. The objectives concerning the student's overall development are included both in the common "general" studies intended to complement occupational skills and in the occupation-specific studies. In addition, providing students with occupational skills useful in a broad range of different workplaces is considered an highly central objective. The Finnish approach is integrative also as regards access to further and higher education. The new three-year study programmes have been designed to give also general eligibility for tertiary education. 
    In addition to delivering double qualifications, the experiments have undoubtedly also enriched and diversified occupational competence and increased collaboration between schools and enterprises. These are all aims where there will be a great deal to do in all countries. It is to be hoped that these experiments will also help to relax, in curricula, the sharp division between theoretical studies and occupation-specific studies. (S-L.K. 07/06/01)
Impact In Bavaria, the pilot project students were asked why they were participating in the double qualification programme. Approximately 80% of them stated the one-and-a-half year time saving mechanism (compared to the length of the traditionally taken route) for obtaining higher study qualifications and vocational certification as the reason for their choice. The possibility of obtaining better occupational opportunities was the second most often stated reason - given by 49% of the participants. The third most often stated reason - listed by 42.9% - involved the opportunity of attaining a higher degree of vocational and general education related knowledge and the fifth, given by 18.4%, concerned the possibility of greater occupational flexibility, i.e. the opportunity of later being able to change occupations.
    Another questionnaire revealed how graduates of the Bavarian pilot project intend to utilise their double qualifications. 63.2% of the participants wish to pursue higher studies. Of these, 36.7% subsequently intend to return to their original training company as a fully qualified engineer. Only 4% of the participants with a university entrance qualification return to work without having completed higher studies (for the most part to their original training company). None of the Bavarian participants have, however, had to deal with unemployment because the training companies have agreed to guarantee reemployment. (S.M. ed. 14/09/99 - based on Bremer & Kusch 1999)
Reference The national case study on the German pilot projects, prepared by  Bremer & Kusch 1996a, was summarised in Brown & Manning 1998a (pp 11-13). The summary was updated in the authors' contribution for the DUOQUAL Survey 1999. The Brandenburg pilot project in the context of post-16 strategies in Germany was investigated by Bremer & Heidegger in Lasonen 1996a (pp 149-168). A further analysis of the learning process in the Brandenburg pilot project is contained in the topic study on "integrated learning processes" prepared by Frøyland et al. for DUOQUAL published by Brown & Manning 1998a (pp 45-64). Detailed evidence on the careers of graduates of the Bavarian pilot project can be found in the topic study on "tracing careers" by Eckert et al. published in Brown & Manning 1998a (pp 99-118). Further information on the related  Bavarian pilot projects IDEA and NELE is provided by Kusch 1999a. (S.M. 14/09/99)  
Author Rainer Bremer/ Werner Kusch/ Sabine Manning (ed) Sirkka-Liisa Kärki

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