Reference : Developing Advanced Work-Based Higher Education – What Germany and the U.S. Can Learn...
Scientific journals : Article
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
Developing Advanced Work-Based Higher Education – What Germany and the U.S. Can Learn from Each Other
Graf, Lukas mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS) >]
AICGS Transatlantic Perspectives
American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS), Johns Hopkins University
Washington, D.C.
United States
[en] Work-based higher education ; Vocational education and training ; Higher education ; Germany ; United States ; Institutional change ; Institutional transfer ; Social inequality ; Knowledge economy
[en] Currently, many countries are experiencing a strong renewed interest in work-based training. When it comes to discussions in this field, American policymakers usually identify dual apprenticeship training as the "crown jewel" of Germany's admired skill formation system. In turn, their colleagues from Germany frequently travel to the U.S. to inform about the merits of the German apprenticeship model. However, what is often overlooked is that dual apprenticeship training at the secondary level is no longer the only way in which advanced work-based training is offered in Germany. Due to structural changes, such as the shift to the service and knowledge economy and the increased flexibility of labor markets, employers as well as individuals increasingly demand higher-level academic competences. As a consequence, so-called dual study programs in Germany have massively expanded. Dual study programs are apprenticeships offered at the higher education level and they have begun to attract high school graduates with excellent grades. In fact, in terms of recruiting talent, they can compete with prestigious German research universities for talented youth. Yet in the U.S. there are few programs that offer such a combination. Apprenticeships in the U.S. case are mainly organized through private providers or community colleges at the post-secondary level. As Lerman (2014) emphasizes, "Unlike programs in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, the apprenticeship system in the U.S. is almost entirely divorced from high schools […]." However, community colleges are usually considered a higher education pathway mainly for those who do not manage to gain access to four-year colleges (universities). In this essay I argue that the U.S. skill formation system might profit from systematically introducing programs similar to German dual study programs. Conversely, the U.S. approach to work-based higher education offers inspiration for policymakers in Germany. Thus, for example, while German higher education still functions as a rather elitist system, community colleges are designed to make higher education accessible, especially for non-traditional and disadvantaged students. It follows that the two countries can mutually learn from each other regarding the development of new pathways of advanced work-based higher education. In the following I discuss German dual study programs and U.S. community colleges as well as co-operative (co-op) study programs. Then I compare the German and the U.S. approaches to show how each of them offers distinct comparative advantages.
American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS), Johns Hopkins University
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students ; General public

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