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Germany Skills Shortages Apprenticeships Technical Trades Training

News report about apprentices and vocational education trades training in Germany:

German apprentices are becoming harder to find.  Problem caused by the strong economy and low birth rate.

BERLIN — A growing number of entrepreneurs in Germany are resorting to drastic measures such as doubling salaries because each year fewer young people sign up for apprenticeships, typically three-year programs for 16-year-olds who want to learn a trade rather than go on to higher education.



Once these programs were regarded as a respectable start into working life for school leavers and a fundamental pillar of Germany’s diversified economy. The German system has also been praised abroad because of its emphasis on both theoretical and practical training, with apprentices often taking one week off each month to attend school.

Recent figures showed almost 120,000 vacant apprenticeships in Germany. That’s about 14,500 more unfilled places than 2013, the sharpest yearly increase in recent history.

The problem is partly caused by Germany’s strong economy and low birth rate, resulting in demand for new apprentices outstripping the number who enter the workforce each year. This has kept Germany’s youth unemployment enviably low at a time when other European countries are struggling mightily to create jobs. Some 4% of young Germans are without work, compared with 20.8% in Spain and an EU average of 9.8%.

Germany’s strong labour market has also compounded a long-term trend for school pupils to continue their education at university in the hope of earning a higher salary.

The number of Germans at university topped 2.2 million in 2012, about twice the number 30 years earlier.  Meanwhile, the number of people in vocational training dropped to around 1.4 million in 2012 compared with 1.7 million in 1980.

The problem is particularly acute in professions that are physically demanding or seen as low status. These include skilled manufacturing jobs, plumbers, butchers and cooks, where first-year apprentices can receive as little as 480 euros ($620) a month…..’


Ironically many choosing higher education not only face higher fees and debt (in many countries), significant graduate unemployment, but also less competitive salaries.  Further, over the medium long term with ageing (permanent) populations, we will see further reliance upon education and training pathways with immigration outcomes for international candidates, albeit against ‘nativist’ headwinds.


For more information about apprenticeships, technical, vocational, trades, education, training, employment and careers click through.

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