Author(s):Michael Gessler (presenting), Philipp Gonon (presenting), Christian Helms Jørgensen (presenting), Leif Christian Lahn (presenting), Lorenz Lassnigg (presenting), Martin Mulder (presenting)

Conference:ECER 2016, Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers

Network:02. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)

Format:Round Table

Session Information

02 SES 07 A, Dual Training Systems in Europe

Round Table


Room:Vet-Theatre 116

Chair:Christof Nägele


VETNET Round Table: Strengths and Weaknesses of Dual Training Systems in Europe

The UNESCO “Education for All” programme of the 1990s and the “Millennium Development Goals” initiative put basic education for all in the centre of international interest and vocational education and training out of the spotlight. In 2000, the OCED (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) initiated the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to evaluate education systems by testing school-related skills and knowledge in reading, mathematics and science among 15-year-old students. Neither the work orientation of the education systems, the vocational skills nor the work readiness of the students was part of the OCED programme.

The global financial crisis of 2007 changed the situation abruptly because young people were hit especially hard by the crisis. Transfer into employment once again became a central topic and along with the recognition of this problem, vocational education and training was rediscovered as the connecting link between the education and employment systems. Examples of current international studies are “Learning for Jobs” (OECD 2010), “Youth and Skills—Putting education to work” (UNESCO 2012) and “Skills Beyond Schools” (OECD 2014).

In 2015, the unemployment rate among young people aged 15 to 24 years in Europe stood at around 20 %, twice as high as the average across the general population (Eurostat 2015). This proportion also applies in the OECD (2015), although the rate is lower at around 15 %. The unemployment rate among young people in countries with a dual apprenticeship system is considerably lower than these rates, which is why the conclusion is drawn that vocational education and training in line with the labour market facilitates employment, especially among young people. “Youth unemployment certainly tends to be less often a problem (relative to adult unemployment) in countries like Germany with strong ‘dual’ apprenticeship systems” (OECD 2010: 34). This assumption has mobilised political commitment in Europe: one example of this is the “Memorandum on Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training in Europe”, which was signed in December, 2012, in Berlin (BIBB 2012: 1): “We, the Ministers agree that dual or work based training should be examined so as to become the model of vocational education and training systems in Europe.”

The Dual Training Systems are back in the spotlight. In this VETNET Round Table we will discuss the present strengths and weeknesses and the future opportunities and threats of Dual Training Systems in Europe in a comparative perspectice: Insights will be given from six national Dual Training Systems (Austria, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland). One point we can state already now: In Europe exists not only one Dual Training System as a uniform concept, but many with different strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The intention of the Round Table is, firstly, to share and compare different perspectives and, secondly, to initiate a process of mutual learning.


BIBB Bundesinstitut für Berufliche Bildung (2012). Memorandum on Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training in Europe. Retrieved from (10 January, 2016).
Eurostat (2015). Harmonised unemployment rate by age group 15-24 and total unemployment rate. Retrieved from (10 January, 2016).
OECD (2010). Learning for Jobs: OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training. Paris, France: OECD Publishing.
OECD (2014). Skills Beyond School: Synthesis Report: OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training. Paris, France: OECD Publishing.
OECD (2015). Short-Term Labour Market Statistic: Unemployment Rate by age and gender. Retrieved from (10 January, 2016).
UNESCO (2012). Youth and skills: Putting education to work. Paris, France: UNESCO Publishing.

Author Information

Michael Gessler (presenting)
Universität Bremen
Institut Technik und Bildung
Philipp Gonon (presenting)
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Christian Helms Jørgensen (presenting)
Roskilde University, Denmark
Leif Christian Lahn (presenting)
Lorenz Lassnigg (presenting)
Institute for Advanced Studies, Austria
Martin Mulder (presenting)
Wageningen Univesity
Education and Competence Studies