The integration of young adults into the labor market is a challenge for every society. Because Germany survived the current crisis quite well and youth unemployment rate is more or less stable, the German apprenticeship-system, Duale Ausbildung, became a kind of new role model in Europe. In this article we analyze the downsides of the German system which are often disguised in the public discussion. Based on interview analysis and additional quantitative data it is argued that some young people on the non-academic pathway are structurally denied a straight educational career. They have to attend substitute courses, if they do not find an apprenticeship after leaving school at the age of 15/16. During the following difficult transition into work they give up expectations concerning job and life quality. In the end they gratefully accept unsecure positions in the growing low-pay sector to avoid unemployment and living on state welfare. The public discussion remains silent about their situation, which is explained as a result of neoliberal hegemony. In conclusion it is shown that pedagogics alone cannot change these serious problems of young adults, but that they have to be brought back into the political discussion.
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