In Germany, students in initial vocational education and training (IVET) accounted for 48.6% of all upper secondary students in 2012, close to the EU average of 50.3%, but below Italy’s 60% according to indicators compiled by Cedefop (the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training). The main difference between Germany’s IVET students and other countries is that 88.2% are enrolled in combined work- and school-based programmes, compared to only 27% in the EU as a whole.


There is growing evidence that young people on high-quality apprenticeships and internships are more likely to acquire useful skills and attitudes to find suitable work and this appears to be the case in Germany. The employment rate for upper-secondary IVET graduates aged 20 to 34 is 83.9%, some 26.2 percentage points higher than that of general education graduates of the same age.

Some 73% of German enterprises also provide training compared to 66% in the EU as a whole. Also, more employees in Germany (28%) participate in on-the-job training compared to the European average (21%). However, in 2012, the percentage of all adults aged 25 to 64 engaged in lifelong learning in Germany was 7.9%, slightly lower than the EU average of 9%, and below the European average target of 15% to be achieved by 2020, but higher than in France (5.7%) and Italy (6.6%). The percentage of older people, the unemployed and those with relatively low qualifications participating in lifelong learning are all lower in Germany than for the EU as a whole.

Notes to editors

• Data come from indicators compiled by Cedefop (the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training). Data used was extracted in summer 2013 and at the time of writing is the latest available from Eurostat. Data for employment rates for upper secondary vocational and general education graduates (aged 20-34) relate to 2009. Data for enterprises providing training and employees participating in on-the-job-training relate to 2010.

• Cedefop’s full publication: On the way to 2020 giving data for all EU Member States is available at:

• Germany’s performance on a range of indicators selected to monitor progress in VET and lifelong learning across the European Union is shown in Figure 1: [VET indicators for Germany for the most recent year available Index numbers (EU=100)]. The indicators are based on the most recent data available (this differs by indicator). Data in the chart are presented as an index where the EU average equals 100. If the index for an indicator is 100, then Germany’s performance equals the EU average. If the index is 90, its performance is 90% of (or 10% below) the EU average. If the index is 200, Germany’s performance is twice (or 200%) the EU average. For some indicators, such as early leavers from education and training, a country is performing better if its score is below the EU average.

• Data on which the index scores have been calculated are presented in Table 1, which also shows changes over time: [Score on VET indicators in Germany and in the EU, 2006, 2010 and 2011/12 (where available)]. A technical definition of each indicator is at: