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© dpa - International
Training market turns the corner

April 07, 2008

The number of new training contracts concluded last year rose to 625,900, which translates as an increase of 49,800 new training places or almost nine percent over 2006. This is the second highest figure recorded since reunification.

This emerges from the Vocational Training Report 2008, which was today adopted by the German cabinet. The main finding was that demand and supply are now almost balanced on the training market.

At the end of September 2007 a total of 29,453 young people were still looking for a trainee place. The clearing process managed to cut this number to 11,300 by the end of January. At the same time though 35,000 places for trainees were still vacant. Thus, mathematically at least, every young person could be offered a place.

A place for every young person

For the new training year too, the German government is sticking to its goal of offering a place to every young person who is able and willing to train.

The first figures published by the Federal Employment Agency on 31 March 2008 make this look feasible. Between October 2007 and March 2008, the training placement unit recorded a total of 359,200 trainee places for the coming year – a rise of 45,100 over the previous year. Parallel to this, the number of applications received dropped by 83,400, which the Federal Employment Agency attributes to demographic factors.

Preventing shortages of skilled workers

As the number of school-leavers drops, the opportunities offered by vocational training must be used to the full. It is already becoming apparent that businesses in Germany will find it increasingly difficult to find the well trained young people they need.

Representatives of the skilled crafts sector have already warned of an impending shortage of apprentices. "In the East the shortage will become apparent in 2008, while it will be felt in the rest of the country in three years time,” declared the Secretary General of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts, Hanns-Eberhard Schleyer, in an interview with the newspaper "Handelsblatt".

Placing second-time applicants

With the Qualification Initiative it launched on 20 February 2008, the German government has already taken a step towards overcoming shortages of skilled workers. By 2010 another 100,000 places are to be created for trainees.

"It is our goal to provide a place for every young person who is able and willing to train," said Federal Minister of Education, Annette Schavan.

Special assistance is to be given in particular to young people leaving school with no leaving certificate, and to those with a lower or intermediate school leaving certificate but poor marks in maths and German, provided they have already been looking for a trainee place for some time. Businesses entering into a training contract with these young people as of 1 July 2008 will qualify for a training bonus worth up to 6,000 euros.

Annette Schavan also aims to put vocational training on the agenda of the training summit in autumn this year, which will be attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the premiers of the federal states.

From vocational training to university

The German government intends to work with the federal states to make it easier for young people who have completed vocational training to find a place at university. To this end, comparable preliminary qualifications are to be worked out and the admission regulations of universities simplified for young people with vocational qualifications. The aim is to improve their chances of upward mobility and to make it easier to move between the various parts of the education system.

European comparisons important

The German government supports a European performance comparison in the field of vocational training, known in short as the vocational training PISA. This is an important step on the way to putting in place a European qualification framework. Both businesses and young people with vocational qualifications will benefit.

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