„The best engineers come from Germany“

The BBC reported in September 2013: “I think the apprentices will be guaranteed a job when we go back, so I think we’ll be ok,” said Rhys from Bristol, UK. He is one of just 2,200 young workers chosen from some 45,000 applicants by the electronics and electrical engineering giant Siemens for its pan-European training scheme.

Another apprentice, 21-year-old Gabriel from Northampton, says he came to Berlin to learn the German way. “They are much more precise, they go into detail a lot more. It helps you understand why all the best engineers and creatives come from here.”

“Everybody knows what the label ‘Made in Germany’ means,” says 22-year-old Vainius from Lithuania. “This is a perfect example of how they do it. It is an excellent chance for everyone here.“

Germany’s vocational system has been around for decades and is deeply embedded in society. Youngsters who are not qualified for or interested in going to university can join a program in which they work part of the week for a firm that pays them and teaches them relevant skills. The rest of the time they spend in the classroom.

Chambers of commerce and industry bodies are involved to ensure that the work and the teaching are matched. After their apprenticeships, the trainees often have jobs to walk into, in sectors including electrical engineering, sales and marketing, shipping and agriculture.

Roughly two out of three young Germans go through this system.