Germany's school system

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1 Germany's school system School is compulsory for all children living in Germany. Children normally start to attend school in the autumn of the year in which they turn 6. Compulsory education usually lasts until the end of the school year in which the child reaches the age of 18. The rules governing compulsory schooling vary from one German federal state to the next. Grundschule: The first school all children in Germany attend is the Grundschule (primary school). They then move on to a secondary school, of which there are several different types and at which they can gain different qualifications. Children usually attend primary school for four years. In the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, however, primary schooling lasts for six years. Primary schools are attended by all children and teach the basic knowledge and skills that prepare the pupils for their move to the various types of secondary school. Subjects taught usually include German, maths, general science/local studies, art, music and sport. More and more primary schools in all states are also starting to offer foreign languages. Once the children have completed primary school, they move on to one of three different secondary schools: Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium. Which of these secondary schools they go to is normally decided by the teaching staff, and to some extent the parents, on the basis of their primary school performance. Hauptschule: The role of the Hauptschule is to prepare pupils for an apprenticeship after they leave school. In addition to theoretical knowledge, this school therefore aims to give pupils the practical skills necessary for their working life. At the end of five years, pupils acquire the Hauptschule leaving certificate (Hauptschulabschluss). Pupils who take an additional examination can acquire a higher qualification (qualifizierende Hauptschulabschluss). Hauptschule gives pupils a general education as the basis for practical vocational training. Realschule: The Realschule gives students the opportunity to take subjects such as a second foreign language. Realschule pupils are expected to show more personal initiative in learning than those attending Hauptschule. However, they receive a more practically-oriented education than the pupils who attend Gymnasium. The Realschule leaving certificate is the general basis for many types of profession and a prerequisite for attending Fachoberschule, Fachgymnasium or for transferring to a transitional period in a regular Gymnasium. The Realschule aims to give a more advanced form of general education. Gymnasium: Pupils attend Gymnasium for eight years to acquire a final qualification called the Abitur. The Abitur is regarded as a certificate of aptitude for higher education. The Gymnasium is intended for pupils who will go on to 1

2 study at a university, technical college or vocational institute or take part in a dual study program (theory at a university/college, practical work within a company). Greater personal initiative and motivation is expected from Gymnasium pupils in comparison to those attending Hauptschule or Realschule. General: Once pupils have acquired a Hauptschule or Realschule leaving certificate, there are several ways they can continue their secondary education and eventually acquire the Abitur. Once school education is over in Germany, there are three ways to prepare for a working career: - vocational training (e.g. to become an electrician or business management assistant) in the public or private sector, - a course of study at a vocational institute, technical college or university, or - a dual course of study which involves cooperation between companies and institutes of higher education. These courses combine practical and theoretical components. Vocational training in Germany A solid education is the most important prerequisite for young people starting out on their career. When looking for work in Germany, it is vital that applicants have completed their vocational training or course of study. You should therefore improve the career prospects for your children by helping them find an apprenticeship or a place in a vocational institute! Vocational training normally lasts for between two and three and a half years, and is usually "dual" in nature. This means it's a combination of practical experience of working in a company and periods at a vocational school. Around 60 percent of young people in Germany participate in this dual form of vocational training. Young people in Germany can learn one of around 350 skilled trades. Vocational information centres (Berufsinformationszentren - BIZ) at the employment agencies (Agentur für Arbeit) help young people to choose their vocation. They provide information about the various careers, what they involve and what qualifications they demand. The employees at the employment agencies will give you advice and help your child find a suitable apprenticeship or trainee position. These employment agencies have offices throughout Germany. Find out the address of the Agentur für Arbeit in your area. The web site of the German 2

3 Federal Labour Office (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) is also a useful source of information on career training opportunities in Germany. There are a number of additional ways of obtaining careers information. - Career fairs (Ausbildungsmesse) are held in many cities explaining what the various trades involve. - Schools regularly organize "career orientation days" or have work experience programs in which pupils can work in factories or offices for a short period to gauge their suitability for a particular career. - You can also look at company web sites to see which training programs they offer. These can usually be found in a "Jobs & Careers" section (for school leavers and graduates). Studying in Germany There are several types of higher education institutions in Germany, leading to different qualifications and intended for different types of careers. A particular distinction must be made between universities, technical colleges (Fachhochschule) and vocational institutions (Berufsakademie). - At universities, research is an important adjunct to teaching. The students work towards more academic or science-based qualifications. - Courses for students at universities for applied sciences, or at technical colleges or vocational institutions, are more career-related. They combine theory and practice and focus on concrete professional goals. - Dual study programs are an ideal mix of both approaches. The theoretical knowledge taught at the higher education institute is put into practice during phases of work experience at a company. The companies cooperate closely with the institutes in organizing such courses. Vocational training and courses of study at Siemens Siemens is a highly innovative company. The vocational training and study courses on offer at Siemens are directly related to the company's own technical requirements and are mostly in the area of electrical engineering, IT, metal technology and other similar technical areas. In addition to this, however, Siemens also offers careers in business administration as well as in other trades not normally associated with a company 3

4 like ours, such as foundry mechanics, home economists, cooks, restaurant specialists or catering staff. Vocational training at Siemens In general: In addition to the general and career-related knowledge your children acquire at their vocational schools (Berufsschule), at our training centre they are given practice-based seminars to improve their social competence and individual and methodological skills. They are actively involved in day-to-day work and projects, gaining valuable practical experience in their chosen professions to complement their technical knowledge. Experienced trainers are on hand to support them. Once they have completed their basic training they can opt for several different options to further themselves educationally. On completion of their training courses, students receive a qualification from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK-Abschluss). High-quality technical training courses enable participants to move on directly to exciting jobs in the metal or electrical/electronics sectors or to other technical careers. For example, your child can work in programming and maintaining assembly lines or in servicing medical equipment. The job prospects in IT are excellent and the area offers a wide range of opportunities, from installing computer networks (in schools, for example) to setting up telecommunication systems in offices. Alternatively, your children could become experts on configuring information and communication systems and work in jobs dealing with customer order processes, for example. There is also a wide range of commercial professions. You would have opportunities to work in purchasing, controlling, HR, accounting, sales, marketing or logistics. At our commercial business school, your children can attend valuable seminars to prepare them for their everyday working life. Dual study programs at Siemens In general: In addition to their combination of practical and theoretical studies with an international character, your children take part in our seminars to improve their social competence and individual and methodological skills. They are supported by experienced coaches. They receive remuneration to improve their financial security. 4

5 Technical courses of study at one of the world's largest and most renowned electrical and electronics companies are extremely popular. Our "Bachelor of Engineering" course is offered in several technical disciplines including electronics, mechanical engineering and mechatronics. This course opens up a large number of exciting international career opportunities. Continuing education is critical for your children in such rapidly-developing areas, and at Siemens they will be kept constantly up-to-date. The Siemens Technical Academy also offers attractive career options. Computer science is a key technology for Siemens and is concerned with the structure and use of hardware and software. Our "Bachelor of Science" course is offered in several technical disciplines including computer science and information systems. Siemens guarantees excellent career prospects with opportunities to continue your technical education. There is also a wide range of commercial study courses. Your children will have the chance to work in purchasing, controlling, HR, accounting, sales, marketing or logistics. The universities and Siemens' own commercial academy collaborate closely to offer "Bachelor of Arts" courses in several different subjects. And lifelong education for your children is naturally a vital factor that we also pay close attention to in this area. Applications There are three steps to our application process: The first step is the online application. The form for your children to complete can be found at The second step is the online assessment. Here, we test your children for the skills and aptitudes required in the vocational or dual study program. The online assessment is a written test that can be completed on the computer at home. Your children can take this test regardless of their grades at school. The third step is the interview. If we are impressed by a candidate's application, he or she will be invited to an interview. In these interviews, held individually or in groups, our aim is become better acquainted with the candidates and build an impression off how well we fit together. We have put together helpful information ("Bewerbungstipps") on the above web site that will enable your children to prepare for the application process. They can familiarise themselves with the various tests and complete practise sessions. These are completely anonymous and have no impact on the application itself. 5

6 We look forward to receiving an application from someone in your family. In closing, here is some more information about Siemens Siemens, headquartered in Berlin and Munich, is one of the world s largest electrical engineering and electronics companies and holds leading market positions in all its business areas. Around 336,000 employees worldwide develop and manufacture systems and equipment for use in custom-built solutions. Founded 160 years ago, the company provides customers in more than 190 countries with innovative technologies and the wide-ranging expertise necessary to tackle their commercial and technical tasks. In fiscal 2011, the company posted sales of around 77 billion euros and a profit from continuing operations of more than 7 billion euros. 6

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