Text from the Indicator Report 2022
The term “early school leavers” does not refer to the young “high achievers”, who obtain a school leaving certificate before the regular period of schooling ends. Nor should the term be confused with school drop-outs. On the contrary, it refers to people between 18 and 24 years of age who neither have obtained a higher education entrance qualification such as “Abitur” or “Fachhochschulreife” (for universities in general or universities of applied sciences), nor have completed vocational training and who are not attending initial and continuing education/ training programmes. This means that even those young people who, for example, have successfully completed “Hauptschule” or “Realschule” (lower secondary education, ISCED level 2) but are no longer participating in the education process are also counted as early school leavers.
The information originates from the microcensus, whose annual sample survey covers 1 % of the population in Germany. In 2020, the microcensus had a comprehensive restructuring, such that data from 2020 on is conditionally comparable to preceding years.
It is not possible to conclude what type of educational institution they last attended and at what time. The annual school statistics, which is a coordinated Länder statistics, provides supplementary information also published by the Federal Statistical Office.
In 2021, according to provisional results, the indicator value was 11.6 %, i.e. there were a total of 698,000 young people without completed upper secondary education who were not or no longer undergoing (vocational) training or continuing education. The indicator value had decreased to 9.5 % until 2014 and, hence, achieved the target for 2030. From then on, the trend had moved in the wrong direction.
As for gender-specific indicator rates, there were no systematic differences between men and women for the period between 1999 and 2005. Since 2006, the rate for women has been lower than that for men. The values in 2021, for instance, were 9.6 % for women and 13.5 % for men.
According to the school statistics, a total of some 47,490 young people, or 6.2 % of the resident population in the relevant age group, left school in 2021 without a certificate of lower secondary education. Compared with 1999, this equates to a reduction by 43 %. By this measure too, the proportion remains markedly lower among young women (4.9 %) than among young men (7.5 %).
By contrast, 16.1 % (122,282) of the resident population of the same age obtained a certificate of lower secondary education from a Hauptschule in 2021, 44.1 % (334,137) obtained a certificate of intermediate secondary education, 33.0 % (263,428) obtained a general university entrance qualification, and 0.1 % (849) obtained a certificate qualifying them to enter a university of applied sciences. Since 1999, two types of certificates have seen particularly large changes over the course of time. Thus, the share of people with a secondary general school certificate fell by 10.0 percentage points, while the share of people with university entrance qualification rose by 8.2 percentage points (both as a proportion of the population of the same age).