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social justice in Europe

The German youth unemployment rate is traditionally low in comparison to other European countries. It decreased steadily in the last years, even within the recent crisis, and became the lowest in the European Union. • The level of responsibility in matters of education is interlaced in Germany. On the one hand, federal states have legislative authority in education policy and arrange the administration. On the other hand, the federal government is responsible for extracurricular vocational training and further training, training grants and promotion of scientific research. Traditionally, trade unions and employers’ associations play a crucial role in the context of education responsibility, not least due to importance of dual vocational training in Germany. • The federal structure of education in Germany leads to a heterogeneous system. However, this does not mean that every single federal state has unique regulations. Often, differences occur between clusters with similar regulations. What is common between all federal states is the rough structure of the schooling system. At the age of six compulsory schooling starts. After finishing compulsory schooling children are separated into different educational paths, depending on their abilities. From a legal point of view freedom to choose between educational paths ensures access to tertiary education, independent of the selected school type after finishing compulsory schooling. In case of dual vocational education, there is no legal minimum requirement with regard to chosen school type. • However, the freedom to choose between educational paths, especially between tertiary and vocational education is part of recent discussions. There is wide consensus between labor market experts, public institutions and social partners that the mobility between vocational and tertiary education has to increase, not least due to the ongoing trend of academization. Although dual vocational education is still very important, the amount of new students was already higher in 2011 than the amount of new apprentices. Improvements in recognizing and crediting of educational achievements facilitate up and down-ward mobility, leading to better matches. However, recent improvements within this area only act as models. • Besides rather highly educated individuals, disadvantaged young people also came into focus in the recent past. Similar as in case of potential academics, they face difficulties in receiving further education. These obstacles refer to issues that relate to the educational and social system, which frustrate rather than promote disadvantaged young people, and to employers that feel unable to train these people. There is wide consensus among German stakeholders, that improving transparency of educational schemes and centralizing support for disadvantages young people tackle these obstacles. However, similar as in case of potential academics, improvements within this area only act as models.