Vocational schools

Vocational schools

Source: © Wolfgang Bellwinkel, DGUV

Safety and health during vocational training

Whether in Germany or around the world, a disproportionate number of occupational and road accidents involve young professionals and young people engaged in vocational training. Though young people reach legal age on their 18th birthday, the vast majority of them have yet to find their place in the world of education or work as they move along the path to adulthood.

Young people should not only pass through their vocational training safely, but also use that period to gain sound knowledge of work and health. In particular, such knowledge will play a decisive role in their ability to meet the requirements of the modern working world. It is therefore vital that teachers at vocational schools facilitate knowledge transfer in the field of safety and health. As knowledge of this type cannot be taught in theory alone, cooperation between schools and companies is just as important as that between those responsible for education and prevention.

The German social accident insurance institutions for the public sector support vocational schools in the implementation of prevention measures, provide guidance on all issues of safety and health and offer seminars on a variety of prevention topics to vocation schools within their regions. In the case of sector-specific educational content, the German social accident insurance institutions for trade and industry facilitate in-school and in-plant trainee instruction by providing a wide range of media and guidelines, and also deliver seminars for both trainers and trainees.

Jointly organized by the German social accident insurance institutions for trade and industry and the public sector, the "Jugend will sich-er-leben" initiative is an annual campaign focusing on occupational safety and health (OSH). The initiative is aimed at vocational schools and their students, and can already look back on many years of success.

Prevention activities at vocational schools

Prevention activities at vocational schools consist in the organization of safety and health protection, the construction and equipment of facilities and the promotion of safety and health. The German social accident insurance institutions for trade and industry also offer trade-specific training materials.

Rising demands linked to issues such as work complexity, increasing responsibility, time pressure, pressure to perform and in particular uncertainty regarding the future are often accompanied by high levels of stress. This results in health implications amongst those affected – including many teachers at vocational schools. A teacher health handbook has therefore been published in order to aid teachers and head teachers in the successful design and initiation of in-school change processes which ensure not only the long-term promotion of teacher health and performance, but also the achievement of improvements in the overall quality of their school.

The well-being of teachers and learners and the pleasure they take from performing well are key prerequisites for healthy, successful learning and work. This makes their health a vital factor for success.

The work carried out at vocational schools by the German social accident insurance institutions is supported by the DGUV’s Expert Committee on Educational Facilities. The DGUV’s other expert committees also provide support on specialist and trade-specific issues.

Prevention during in-plant vocational training and at external vocational training centres

Young people aged between 16 and 24 – and in particular those attending a vocational school or external vocational training centre – are a very important target group where prevention is concerned. A variety of means are therefore used to integrate OSH into initial vocational training:

  • Qualifications specific to particular target groups and topics;
  • Provision of (training) materials and media;
  • Cooperation with and exertion of influence on political decision-makers, e.g. during the integration of OSH into the curricula set out in the training regulations defined for trades offered at vocational schools.
The training materials made available range from individual worksheets on trade-specific topics to complex training materials for teachers and learners at vocational schools.

Road safety

Just like company employees, trainees are protected by the German social accident insurance system from their first day onwards. Cover extends to both their commute and any journeys required within the framework of their vocational training.

Young professionals and trainees are at higher risk of involvement in a road traffic accident than other age groups, with 15 to 24-year-olds suffering 22 % of all commuting accidents – even though they only make up around 11 % of the working population. The fact that young drivers are the highest-risk age group on the roads is clearly borne out by statistics.

In 2010, trainees alone accounted for 7,652 of the commuting and work-related road accidents recorded by the DGUV. Over half of those cases involved car passengers (4,260). Trainees riding motorcycles or mopeds were injured in 723 cases. The third most frequently affected group of road users were cyclists, who accounted for 625 cases. 2010 saw 33 trainees die in commuting and work-related road accidents.

Against this statistical backdrop it is clear to see that trainees need to develop a greater appreciation of the risks of road travel. Teachers at vocational schools and in-plant trainers can make a significant contribution in this regard, as was demonstrated by the “Risiko raus!" ("Remove the Risk!") campaign in 2010/2011.

International activity

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has been dealing with the topic of occupational safety and health (OSH) during vocational training for a number of years.

Its main area of focus is the integration of that topic into training content, as it is only once it has been adopted into official curricula that OSH can become embedded in the policies of schools and seats of higher education and practically implemented during courses of vocational training. The following report details examples of ways in which member states are integrating OSH and risk education into their national curricula: "OSH in the school curriculum: requirements and activities in the EU Member States".

Young professionals are also involved in a high proportion of commuting and work-related road accidents, and therefore represent another important target group from both a domestic and international perspective. The following report presents a strategy for the protection of young professionals, and includes measures, programmes and campaigns implemented by EU member states: "Preventing risks to young workers: policy, programmes and workplace practices".

Safety and health during vocational training is also the subject of international activity. The International Social Security Association (ISSA) – of which the DGUV is a full member – draws up fundamental guidelines detailing its strategy where the safety and health of young professionals is concerned. For further information, please refer to www.issa.int.


Jutta Busch
Abteilung Sicherheit und Gesundheit (SiGe)
Referat "Bildung und Gesundheit"
Tel.: 089 62272-178