All young people making the transition from school to training - with or without disabilities - essentially find themselves in the same position. Everyone can begin dual or school-based vocational education and training.
Regular training occupations...
A representative company survey conducted in 2015 shows the real situation. Almost 90 percent of firms with trainees with disabilities focus on regular occupations in which the duration of training is between three and three and a half years, for example management assistant for retail services.
Around 20 percent offer apprentices with disabilities two-year training occupations such as sales assistant for retail services. These options are, however, not mutually exclusive. Many firms actually provide training in two-year and in three or three and a half-year programmes in parallel.
... and special training occupations
Around 9 percent of companies train young people with a disability in special training occupations. These include, for example, sales practitioner or practitioner in metalworking.
Almost 8,300 young people with a disability concluded a training contract in a special occupation in 2017.
They learn practical and theory-reduced contents which are aligned towards the regular training occupations. Upon successful completion of the programme, they gain a vocational qualification as a so-called practitioner or worker.
Those qualifying in special training occupations have differing prospects depending on the occupation. In late 2018, for example, labour market opportunities for persons who had completed training as sales practitioners were significantly worse than the chances of those who were newly qualified in metalworking.
The number of young people in special training occupations have been in decline for several years. There are essentially two reasons for this. Firstly, many companies have looked to access the numerous possible funding schemes which are in place, such as training support measures aimed at facilitating training in a regular occupation for young people with disabilities.
Over the past years, the Federal Employment Agency has also been successively scaling back the high level of financing which it provided for this support over a long period of time, especially in the federal states of East Germany.
In addition to this, a company is nowadays only permitted to offer training in special occupations if trainers undergo special training or if the company cooperates with an external partner.
Vocational training centres for people with disabilities
The vocational training centres for people with disabilities are extra-company educational institutions financed by the Federal Employment Agency which operate both autonomously and in conjunction with companies. They are the companies' most important partners. 52 such centres across Germany provide social education support to young people with disabilities, many of whom live in special residential accommodation nearby.
The extent to which extra-company training programmes reflect the reality of actual company conditions and the establishment of separate training spaces for young people with disabilities are both objects of controversy. Vocational training centres for people with disabilities are attempting to address these points of criticism by integrating more practical placements into training and by relocating phases of training to the companies. Young people with mental disabilities in particular gain acceptance to workshops for people with disabilities immediately upon finishing school. Workshops of this kind are publicly funded and offer both vocational and personal support.
Although the young people do not complete fully fledged vocational education and training, they receive basic vocational training. The aim is for them to be able to make the leap to the general labour market over the medium term in combination with occupational practice in employment-related routine tasks.