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Op-ed

The U.S. Should Adopt the European Dual Education System

The education system in the United States is made up of a variety of schooling institutions, ranging from public schools and public universities to charter schools and private colleges. The European dual education system, on the other hand, is similar to the US education system, but it provides students with opportunities to practice real-life applications of what they learn in school. Students are able to choose an apprenticeship in a select field of their choice and are able to integrate their learning with their work. This is not compulsory in the US education system, yet, this one difference plays a major role in the “effectiveness” of an education. American schools should adopt an education system similar to this European “dual system, as it would be extremely beneficial in adapting to our ever-changing labor market.

Adopting an educational system similar to Europe’s dual system would allow students to learn how to apply their education to their prospective careers. The European dual system is “professional training focused mainly on practical professional work experience in a company, with additionally theoretical and general school parts to complete the training curriculum.” By simultaneously going to school and taking on an apprenticeship, students are constantly learning how to apply what they’ve learned to their work. Once these students go into the actual workforce, they will have a strong understanding of the skills needed in a real career. This gives them an advantage over students who have not had previous work experience and who will have to waste valuable time to figure out how to translate their education to their career.

By providing real-life applications of learning, the European dual education system creates an easier transition into the workforce and gives students transferable skills that they can easily take with them to any profession. This in turn has a positive effect on youth unemployment, with “much less [students] unemployed after their school than in only school based learning systems.” Although America has a fairly low youth unemployment rate of 8.4%, using the dual system could get America’s youth unemployment rate on par with dual-system countries such as Germany, which has a 5.8% youth unemployment rate.

With this system, students are able to pursue subjects they are passionate about. Education works best when a student is proactive about their learning, and through this system, they are motivated to be just that. Students who are able to pursue areas they are passionate about will obviously work hard to learn about the industry, allowing them to truly enjoy what they are learning all while bettering society. For example, a student interested in the merchandising business may be able to find an apprenticeship surrounding that, while a student interested in the manufacturing business will do the same in their respective area.

By giving some individualization to a student’s education by offering a variety of apprenticeships, students will have a much better quality of education, and an education that they will want to put their time and energy into because it aligns with their own goals.

Even if the student ends up not liking the area they apprentice in, the dual education system allows for this leeway, as the students do not need to commit to any career at a young age. This saves students time in the future because they will already have an understanding of what they do not want to further pursue. Although the scope of the apprenticeships available may be limited, all students will be able to gain valuable, transferable work skills that they can take with them to any career.

“The Dual System is a vocational training, not just a professional experience: apprentices “socialise” with their profession, with their colleagues and with the enterprise’s world. They are brought to feel as members of a “community of specialists”, be it craftsmen, industrial workers or qualified employees in the services sector” EU-Duals.

Passion in education is crucial in creating a new, forward-looking generation: a generation that restores a sense of hope and optimism in the world. The dual education system does exactly this, and America should attempt to incorporate some sort of high-school vocational training to create a greater connection between education and the real workforce at a young age. With this, we can generate a more knowledgeable workforce, innovation can thrive, and America can move towards a brighter future.

Photo: Ryan Smithright/flickr

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