In Germany, a remarkable number of young people leave school with the qualification required for entrance to higher education (Abitur) but do not actually go on to university. Instead, these young people-known in German as Abiturienten-start an apprenticeship within what is known in Germany as the Dual-System. Indeed, the numbers of Abiturienten with both an apprenticeship qualification and a university degree have grown considerably and now make up a significant minority of school-leavers. From an international perspective in particular, this pathway through the education system is puzzling: why would someone with the qualifications to go on to higher education decide to acquire what the Germans call a Doppel-Qualifikation, or 'double qualification'? This paper explains the transition process from secondary education to the apprenticeship system and higher education. It also tentatively identifies factors that may account for the motives of these particular school-leavers: for instance, Abiturienten undertaking an apprenticeship may rather be more risk-averse than other, less academically able, students. In such cases, an apprenticeship provides practical experience and allows students to keep their options open. Moreover, by comparison with a number of other countries, the apprenticeship system in Germany is held in high esteem. Finally, the paper discusses some of the weaknesses of the Dual-System and their implications for trainees with the Abitur.
Technical and vocational education