City of Wetzlar

From Lehrling to Azubi

The system of vocational training in Germany is subject to constant change. An exhibition in the New Town Hall in Wetzlar gives us a glimpse of its eventful history.

Future precision engineers at the Wetzlar vocational school in 1926/27. (Image: Leica Microsystems)
Future precision engineers at the Wetzlar vocational school in 1926/27. (Image: Leica Microsystems)

Until October 1, 2010, visitors to the New Town Hall can find out how vocational training has changed since the 19th century. The exhibition “Vom Lehrling zum Azubi”, staged by the Hessische Wirtschaftsarchiv (Hessian Business Archives), consists of more than 180 pictures showing developments in the training situation of young people. The exhibits give a vivid account of how a system of guilds gradually gave birth to new forms of training. As a special highlight, numerous original documents from Wetzlar’s schools and training colleges are also on display.

Vocational training past and present

The exhibition draws the visitor’s attention to many different phases in the development of today’s training system, for instance the beginnings in the 19th century, when free trade and the decline of the guild system fuelled the need for change. Another focus is the period between 1920 and 1938, when a standard system of vocational training began to emerge with the assistance of the state.

The changing image of the apprentice

The many exhibits are not confined to the beginnings, however, and the exhibition does not exclude critical issues, such as the ideological abuse of apprentices under the National Socialist regime and their new self-image in the wake of the 1968 movement. The vocational training system still faces major challenges today, and is having to react by offering various solutions, such as more effective and flexible training courses to suit increasingly differentiated career profiles. The exhibition therefore paints a multifaceted overall picture of the image of the apprentice over the centuries.

Seeing and understanding

The organizers would like to encourage a deeper involvement with the topic, so the Hessische Wirtschaftsarchiv has published a catalog to tie in with the exhibition. In addition, the topic has been explored on an academic level in a study entitled “The Dual System of Vocational Training in Hessen” led by management expert Ulrich Eisenbach. Both publications are available from the Hessische Wirtschaftsarchiv direct or in book stores.

Frank Feulner


Additional Information:

From 'Lehrling' to 'Azubi'

Until October 1st, 2010
New Town Hall Wetzlar
Ernst-Leitz-Straße 30
35578 Wetzlar