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Vocational training in Germany: what can apprentices do?

In Germany, more than 300 professions can be mastered as part of vocational training. Students are paid a salary. The plans are to raise its lower limit. And what are the rights of apprentices now?

Vocational training in Germany: what can apprentices do

A turner, a mechanic, a plumber, a baker, a hairdresser, a massage therapist, an assistant in a law firm, a bank employee, a dental technician - almost 330 professions in Germany can be mastered as part of industrial training. It passes through a dual system that provides for a close connection between theory and practice. This German model of training professional personnel is now popular in other European countries, and has recently been mastered in Russia. Monika Muylkens, head of the vocational guidance department of the Cologne Employment Agency, told DW about how the relationship between a firm and an apprentice is regulated in Germany and what an apprentice can apply for.

Salary, scholarship, side income

Students of vocational schools receive a salary during their studies. For some professions, the amount of payment depends on the terms of the tariff agreement, in other cases the employer determines it himself. Now the salary of apprentices is from 400 to 800 euros per month. Although there are professions, in the development of which a student can receive up to 1.5 thousand euros per month. Especially high earnings are for those who, for example, study brewing. Future mechatronics specialists also make good money, who are sorely lacking in the German labor market today. And among those who have the lowest salary are students in beauty salons. From 2020, for areas where there are no tariff agreements, it is planned to raise the minimum wage to 515 euros in the first year of study, and from 2023 to 620 euros. The German government has already drafted a bill.

If a work apprentice does not have enough to live on from his salary, he can apply for a BaföG State Scholarship Loan. This is an addition to the living wage. It is provided to university students and students of vocational schools who have a low income and whose parents do not earn enough. Accordingly, the size of BaföG depends on the salary of the parents and the income of the student himself. The maximum amount of such a scholarship is 735 euros per month. However, part of this money after graduation and employment must be returned - this is what a loan is for.

An alternative to the BaföG in Germany is the BAB scholarship (Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe), which is provided by the Federal Employment Agency free of charge. It is provided specifically for those who study under the dual system and live outside the parental home. This is an addition to the apprentice's salary. Its size also depends on the income of the parents and the student himself.

There are no special regulations regarding whether students can earn extra money. In principle, the employer is not concerned with what the student does in his free time. But in accordance with German law, citizens aged 15 to 18 are allowed to work no more than 40 hours a week, and their working day should be no more than 8 hours. So there is almost no time left for part-time work.


How many hours to work and how many to study?

The enterprise concludes an agreement with the student and informs the vocational school about it, where the student must attend classes, as a rule, twice a week. However, vocational education can be obtained only at the enterprise. In any case, by signing a contract for training in a particular specialty, the student assumes a number of responsibilities. But he also has many rights, which are enshrined in the German Youth Protection Act.

During apprenticeship training, the apprentice is subject to German labor law. According to them, about 40 hours a week are provided for study. As a rule, a student spends two days at school and three days at work. Teenagers under the age of 18 are not allowed to work more than 40 hours a week. Those over 18 are allowed to work a maximum of 48 hours per week.

There is also a special form of industrial training, when students are given the opportunity to study and work 25 hours a week. It can be used (with the permission of the employer and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry), for example, by young people with disabilities or those who need to take care of a small child or relative.

Termination of the student agreement

At the beginning of industrial training for both parties - both for the student and for the employer - a probationary period of one to three months is established. During this period, the student must decide whether he chose the right profession. Let's say a young man went to study as a baker, but then he realized that going to bed early and getting up early every day is not for him. He can terminate relations with the employer without prior notice and without giving reasons in writing.

But if the company wants to terminate the contract, it will not be so easy for it to do this: here the law is on the side of the students. Before an employer attempts to fire a student, they must reprimand the student at least twice. But even after that, the employment relationship with the student is broken only if the employer proves that he is forced to fire him due to some serious violation - for example, because he deliberately broke something at work, without permission went on vacation or was late several times in a row for an unexcused reason.

Employment chances after graduation

Typically, students are recruited by those companies that need professional staff. Therefore, they are interested in the fact that people who receive education within their walls remain there after their studies. But it also happens that graduates are poached by other employers.

In any case, the chances of finding a job for children with vocational education in Germany are very high. There are practically no unemployed among them, emphasizes Monika Muilkens from the Cologne Employment Agency.