German companies have an urgent need not only for well-qualified graduates, but also for graduates from vocational schools with the confidence to take on management positions. However, these vocational schools, where skilled workers are trained for so many fields, are often pushed into the background. How can VET students be encouraged to go into management or set up their own company, even without an academic degree?

The German Association of State Certified Engineers is planning measures to encourage VET students to take up responsible positions in their professional lives:

  • provide better targeted information to VET learners;
  • improve networking between vocational schools, higher education and business;
  • set up information centres;
  • offer practical help.

This initiative has the clear aim to improve the attractiveness of vocational training by creating interconnections between vocational and higher education, demonstrating that it is not always necessary to have an academic degree to enter management in industry or trade. This should help in strengthening the position of the technical colleges in comparison with higher education, especially given that training in the technical colleges is carried out at higher education level. Certain innovations in higher education have also been introduced in technical colleges.

Many people are currently trying to get an academic qualification in Germany, without really thinking about whether that is the right choice for them personally. There is a demand for good people in VET as well as in academic education. And if the institutes of higher education siphon off the best learners from vocational education, there will continue to be a shortage of high quality VET learners.