New opportunities or reinforced disadvantages? Variation in returns to low-achieving school leavers' participation in pre-vocational training measures - Extension: Dropping out of VET programs (Short: N.O.R.D. 2)

Prof. Dr. Heike Solga, Berlin Social Science Center

Anne-Christine Holtmann, Berlin Social Science Center

Project summary:

School leavers with low levels of education are at risk of never completing vocational training because they face difficulties in entering vocational education in the first place, and because of high dropout rates among those who entered vocational education in the second place. To address these problems, Germany has introduced prevocational programs (short: pre-voc programs) encompassing classroom training, career guidance and internships. These remedial programs are meant to prepare the participants for an apprenticeship.

While in our project NORD 1 we investigated access to apprenticeships, NORD 2 focusses on dropping out of apprenticeships, asking the following questions:

1) Why are low-achieving school leavers more likely to drop out of apprenticeship programs than intermediate-educated school leavers?

2) Does participation in pre-voc programs impact on low-achieving youth’s risks of dropping out of apprenticeship programs and if so, for whom and why?

3) What happens after dropping out of apprenticeships? Who manages to enter another apprenticeship or university and who drops out of education?

We use data from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) on a cohort of students who attended grade nine at German secondary schools in fall 2010. The students were surveyed once or twice each year since then.

Also see our WZB project website.



Holtmann, Anne Christine/Menze, Laura/Solga, Heike (2021): "Intergenerational Transmission of Educational Attainment. How Important Are Children’s Personality Characteristics?". In: American Behavioral Scientist, advance access, 03.03.2021, online:

Holtmann, Anne Christine/Menze, Laura/Solga, Heike/Ehlert, Martin (2020): "Improving Formal Qualifications or Firm Linkages. What Supports Successful School-to-Work Transitions among Low-Achieving School Leavers in Germany?". In: European Sociological Review, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp. 218–237, online: