The results of a student survey on the attractiveness of vocational education and training (VET), conducted by the University of Maastricht in cooperation with the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), show that around a third of students have doubts about whether they will complete the course of  higher education study they are currently undertaking. About 30% believe that training in the dual system is an attractive alternative.

The online survey was carried out in September 2015 and included more than 12 000 students at German higher education institutes. It revealed that almost one in three students might consider reorienting towards dual studies, demonstrating significant interest in an educational pathway with company-based elements and specific career prospects. While students generally take a positive view of dual VET, the survey also highlighted factors which may spark higher interest. Around 80% of respondents who doubt the benefits of higher education study, and previously did not consider VET as an option, believe they would more readily opt for dual training if they were given the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the company beforehand in a paid practical placement. If they were to change their path in favour of dual VET, transfer of previous learning that would shorten the duration of the new training would be important to them.

The survey group was also asked what they expect to gain from a training qualification compared to a higher education degree. On job security, many respondents believe that vocational and academic qualifications offer equal chances of secure employment. However, dual VET fares worse when it comes to social prestige and payment, as 56% of students think that a higher education degree provides better social status than a VET qualification.

The background to the survey is the continuing debate on the possibility of integrating higher education drop-outs into VET. The drop-out rate in bachelor studies remains high and currently stands at 28%. Along with an increasing number of unfilled training places in the dual system, this has led to the recent introduction of more programmes aimed at encouraging those who leave higher education early to enter vocational training. This approach is mainly being pursued via the JOBSTARTER plus programme which hopes to help counter predicted skilled worker shortages, particularly in medium-level qualifications.

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