According to estimates by the federal government, the situation on the training market could ease up again slightly. But there remains a big problem: companies and potential trainees find it difficult to find each other.

The current vocational training report, which was approved by the Federal Cabinet in Berlin on Wednesday, states that the “fit problem” plays a decisive role in this training year. Business and trade unions have different ideas about how countermeasures should be taken.

As of September 30, 2021, 473,100 new training contracts were signed, 5,600 more than in 2020. The number could increase by more than 20,000 in the next training year, it is cautiously forecast. The pre-corona level of 2019 has still not been reached. According to the forecasts, the number of apprenticeship positions has increased slightly by 8,800 to 536,200 and could continue to grow. Here, too, one is far from the pre-corona level.

Overall, the “market situation” for young applicants has improved and, at least mathematically, there is one for everyone who is looking for an apprenticeship, as the report states. In reality, 63,200 training positions are vacant in 2021 – an increase of 3,200 and more than twice as many as ten years ago. 24,600 applicants remained unplaced at the same time.

Business and trade unions agree that the missing trainees today are the missing skilled workers of tomorrow. Opinions differ on how to approach the “matching” or “fitting” problem.

According to the German Federation of Trade Unions, business and politics have a duty. “Anyone who wants skilled workers must also train them,” said deputy chairwoman Elke Hannack on Wednesday of the German Press Agency and called for improved careers orientation in schools. She also confirmed the DGB’s demand for a training guarantee. The traffic light parties had spoken out in favor of this in their coalition agreement.

The trade unions have long been calling for an instrument like the one in Austria, where all young people who cannot find an apprenticeship in a company are guaranteed an external training place. According to the DGB, this should be financed through a fund that all companies pay into. As an incentive, the companies that provide training receive funding from the pot. At the DGB federal congress on Tuesday, Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil said that the training guarantee should be implemented and that a surcharge for companies should play a role.

The economy rejects this. There is no lack of willingness on the part of the companies to provide training, said Oliver Zander, general metal manager, on Wednesday of the dpa. “There is simply a lack of applicants. State interventions such as a training guarantee lead neither to more applicants nor to more training places. It is unacceptable that around 50,000 young people leave school every year without a qualification.

Although the crafts offer future-proof and future-shaping professions, not enough young people opt for vocational training, according to crafts president Hans Peter Wollseifer. “Career orientation urgently needs to be extended to grammar schools in all federal states,” he demands. The education policy spokeswoman for the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Ria Schröder, said: “Young people must be shown the opportunities in the training market at school, even at high schools, for example with the help of trainee ambassadors.”

According to Friedrich Hubert Esser, President of the Federal Institute for Vocational Training, the reputation of the training occupations in society must be improved, “above all with regard to their educational potential and the career prospects associated with them”. The vocational training report shows that the situation on the training market is very different. Grocery sales, gastronomy, butcher shops, plumbing companies, courier services or concrete and steel construction are sectors with a shortage of trainees. In media design, animal care or the fitness industry, there are sometimes more applicants than places. There are also regional differences. “How well the matching of supply and demand succeeds differs significantly between regions and occupations,” says the report.


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