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Why Polytechnic?

 
A polytechnic is an educational organization that focuses on teaching applied technology rather than academic subjects.
 
The preparation of qualified manpower that can support the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 requires an effective educational system that integrates academic instructions and a structured hands-on practical training at the workplace. Such integration is by no means an easy task. The Abu Dhabi Polytechnic is modeled after Germany’s apprenticeship training programs, more commonly referred to as the dual educational system.
 
 
The German Dual Educational System
 
The dual educational system's success has made it the paradigm for nearly all industrial nations. German students are separated into different tracks at age 10, where they are placed into one of three levels of secondary education: Hauptschule, Realschule, and Gymnasia. The lowest level, Hauptschule, is designed for students who plan to begin apprenticeship programs starting at age 16. Similarly, the Realschule focuses attention on providing students with the skills necessary for an apprenticeship, though it provides slightly more advanced academic theory than the Hauptschule. Students who plan to attend universities generally attend Gymnasia, the highest level of the secondary educational system.
 
Apprentices usually begin training between the ages of 16 and 19, and the training periods generally last three to four years. The German apprenticeship system is commonly referred to as "the dual system of education" as it combines on-the-job training with theory taught in public schools one or two days per week as outlined in Figure 1. Larger companies typically possess their own in-company training shops, but smaller companies provide practical training in group training centers shared by several companies. Companies that provide training programs employ 70% of Germany's entire workforce. Following the prescribed length of the apprenticeship, students are given standardized external exams that test theoretical and practical knowledge. If a student passes the exam (as about 90 percent do), they are given a skilled worker's certificate. This certificate is nearly essential for a worker to obtain full-time employment.
  
Employer associations, on both sectoral and local levels, play a major role in developing new apprenticeships, in modifying existing ones, and in advising the larger companies offering apprenticeships. The Industrial/Commercial and Handwerk chambers organize the local apprenticeship systems, approve and monitor company training, and administer the exam system. Other support is given by: industrial unions, which generally support the goals of the sectoral associations and chambers; the regional governments, which are responsible for vocational schools and coordinate curriculum development; and the federal government, which determines the framework for legislation and training and also conducts research to evaluate the system.
 
 
Why do companies and young Germans choose to participate in the dual educational system?
 
First, the combination of internal labor markets and the strength of the labor movement is essential to the success of the apprenticeship system. Nearly half of Germany's workers are represented by labor unions, which strengthens the ability of the workers to retain jobs within their respective companies. This makes it difficult for a German to find a job opening in a labor market in which they do not already participate. An apprenticeship, on the other hand, represents a normal point of entry into the internal labor market; thus it is much more difficult for one to find a job without having completed an apprenticeship. There are also reasons why employers participate in apprentice training. In Germany wage agreements for most industries are negotiated by employer representatives and trade unions. Because of this wage bargaining system, it is difficult for companies to use wages to lure post-apprentices away from the companies where they were trained. In fact, post-apprentices available for hiring are often viewed unfavorably. First, it is possible that the firms that trained the workers did not want to retain them as employees, which implies that the workers were not valuable to the organizations. Secondly, it is possible that the workers themselves chose not to continue employment with the companies that provided training, which in the German system might indicate a lack of worker loyalty. Thus, it is ultimately safer for companies to fill their skill vacancies through internal training rather than by competing in the external labor market.
 
Another factor responsible for the large number of willing participants in the apprenticeship system involves the positive employer-employee relationships that many attribute to training. Employees often feel a sense of obligation to the company that invested so much into their training, and accordingly plan to remain at the company for a long time. In summary, it is clear that the success of the German dual system is due to the following main factor:
 
• The participation of all stakeholders in determining the outcomes of the educational system including government, industrial enterprises and academic institutions.
• The inherent integration of the academic instructions and the workplace practices.
• The participation of industries, organizations, government and academic institutions in the development, execution and financial support of this educational system.
• The system is well received by all, including students, thus making the integrated educational training system an integral part of the fabric of the society.