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"In Germany university education is free to student."

If, and only if, you pass the entrance requirements.

1/3 of German high school students get automatically shuffled off to trade school long before 9th grade.


The trade school education path in Germany is also free and can extend well beyond high school. German master craftsmen are extremely well educated, not merely well trained apprentices. We have a friend who became the manager of a BMW dealership in Germany. To take the position, he had to pass the master mechanic certification for the service shop. He said it was more difficult than getting his MBA.

"Shuffled off" to trade school is one of the things wrong with American attitudes towards education. It implies there is something less worthy about learning a trade than academics. The reality is that a large % of the population may not do well in math and literature, but they are very skilled in mechanics or people skills or music/art. As a society, the USA has given much higher privilege to university education at the expense of craftspeople. I've known several American young adults who would have been far better off becoming plumbers or electricians instead of having a couple of failed years of university. I might be related to some of them.

Meanwhile, politicians talk about the importance of manufacturing jobs, but the assembly line jobs of the past have been largely automated. Jobs that can be automated can be outsourced to countries with cheap labor. German manufacturing excels at specialty and high end products which require much greater skill on the part of the workers. Custom-built machines, machines with small production runs. You cannot outsource when the destination country cannot supply the requisite labor skill.

It applies to service jobs as well. A few years ago, I did a trade show and stayed at the Hilton at the George R Brown in Houston--allegedly a luxury hotel, costing ~$270/night. We went to dinner in the hotel restaurant and ordered a bottle of wine (at $49, almost the cheapest bottle on the menu). The young waiter comes out and proceeds to fill the wine glasses to the rim and the wine is warm--almost like bath water. I politely noted that this was not right, to which the waiter informed me that red wine was supposed to be warm.

I came back to Europe and a few weeks later was in 3-star hotel in the Netherlands. The hotel restaurant was quiet and I started talking to the waiter who was about the same age as his American counterpart. We started discussing the wine and I asked him his training. He had finished his bachelor's degree in hotel management and was working on a masters degree in order to be a sommelier in a fine restaurant. A professional.

In Houston, Hilton's prices were ridiculous, they were not storing their wine correctly, and they didn't even spend 15 minutes training their minimum wage waiter how to pour a glass of wine. As for the "concierge", it was just another unskilled employee looking things up on google. These are the products of the American education system.
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