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Child and Youth Services in Germany

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Structural framework > Society

Child and youth services and the labour authority

In Germany, school-leavers generally prepare to enter working life by way of either a study programme or practical vocational training (“dual training system”).

The labour authority (Employment Agency) steps in to arrange practical training placements where individual attempts have been unsuccessful.

Child and youth services AND the Employment Agency are mutually dependent on one another for:

  • implementing training programmes as part of the transition from school to training, and
  • integration services for the target group “socially disadvantaged or individually impaired young people” to help with training and integration into working life.

This is done in coordination with the Employment Agency, providers of in-company and external vocational training, and employment services (Article 13 [4] Social Code Book 8).


Jugendlicher erlernt das Handwerk des Kesselschmieds / Young person learning the craft of the kettlesmith

For most people, paid work is the basis for safeguarding an independent livelihood. Young people are prepared for working life throughout schooling and vocational training. For a growing number of young people, the path of education leads them to university. But most young people who leave school without having attained university entrance standard or equivalent go on to vocational training. This can be with a technical college as part of full-time vocational training (principally the care and education professions) or as part of a special dual work-study programme available under the German training system. The dual study programme quintessentially uses two different learning environments – the school and the company – combining theoretical learning in the former and practical training in the latter. Trainees spend 3-4 days a week with the company and 2-3 days at school. The company pays the trainees a wage while they learn.

In 2021, 478,929 young people entered university education and 678,100 people took up vocational training designed to lead to full professional qualification, of which 437,800 were on dual study courses as described above and 240,300 were in full-time vocational education. The second form of vocational education available in Germany is (full-time) school-based vocational training, principally for the healthcare, nursing and various technical assistance professions. Unlike the dual study model, full-time vocational education is unpaid and in fact most students must pay high training fees.

These figures show that the system of training and professional practice takes place largely outside of youth services. Having said that, Article 13 of Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII) establishes interfaces (defined by youth services as "accompanying socio-educational support") in the event that the current performance of socially disadvantaged or individually impaired young people (for instance secondary modern school/special school leavers with poor final grades; young people with "learning disabilities"; school/training dropouts; young people with socialisation deficits, deviant behaviours and addiction problems; young people born outside of Germany with integration problems) renders them unable to gain access to this training system and at risk of being marginalised from society permanently due to their inability to enter the working world.

An indicator of the size of this action area is the number of young people who have failed to find a practical vocational training placement after leaving school and who find themselves in what is known as the "transition system" (a catch-all term for: Federal Employment Agency schemes to ensure employment readiness, introductory qualifications, students at technical schools but without a placement, students in a basic vocational training year or preparatory vocational training year/career entry classes, and students without a training contract at vocational schools). In 2022, 2.33 million men and women between the ages of 20 and 34, or 15.5% of this age cohort, had no vocational education.

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