As apprenticeship training in Germany is expanding away from the traditional upper-secondary level and moving toward the post-secondary level, where its core location is in the U.S., it can be argued that the American and German systems are becoming more similar while retaining distinct comparative advantages. During the seminar “New Pathways for Advanced Work-Based Education,” DAAD/AICGS Research Fellow Dr. Lukas Graf reviewed the transition in the German dual education system and then asked what lessons the two countries can learn from each other.
The traditional German dual education system is located at the upper-secondary level and organized through social partnership. However, due to structural changes in the service and knowledge economy and the flexibility of labor markets, employers and individuals are demanding higher-level academic competences. This has led to the creation and ongoing expansion of “prestigious” apprenticeship programs at the post-secondary level. Apprenticeships in the U.S. case are mostly organized through either private educational institutions or community colleges at the post-secondary level. While community colleges right now tend to attract mostly disadvantaged and non-traditional students, the current interest in work-based education in the U.S. offers opportunities to develop apprenticeship programs attractive enough to also encourage enrollment of people who would otherwise opt for a four-year college degree.
Both Germany and the U.S. can learn from each other’s systems. For example, the German system of post-secondary level apprenticeship programs could adopt strategies to create a more flexible curriculum to better address the needs of disadvantaged and non-traditional students. The American system, on the other hand, could increase flexibility between degree programs and develop complementary high-skilled apprenticeship programs such as those that exist in Germany.
Please click here to view Dr. Lukas Graf’s essay on “Developing Advanced Work-Based Higher Education: What Germany and the U.S. Can Learn from Each Other.”
Dr. Lukas Graf was a DAAD/AICGS Research Fellow from January to mid-March 2015. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Education and Society at the University of Luxembourg. Dr. Graf’s recent publications include:
Dual Study Programmes in Global Context: Internationalisation in Germany and Transfer to Brazil, France, Qatar, Mexico and the US. (with Powell, J.J.W., Fortwengel, J. & Bernhard, N.) Dok&Mat 77. Bonn, DAAD, 2014.
- Growing in a Niche: Dual Study Programs Contribute to Change in Germany’s Higher Education. WZB Report 2014. Berlin, WZB Berlin Social Science Center, 33-36, 2014.
- The Swiss Apprenticeship System. Its Institutional Specificities and Strengths in International Perspective. AICGS Advisor, 2014.
- The Hybridization of Vocational Training and Higher Education in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Opladen, Budrich UniPress, 2013.
Made possible by the support of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds from the German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt - AA)