Survey indicates smaller apprenticeship shortfall

According to the findings of a survey by the Cologne Institute for Business Research, published in June 2003, Germany's shortfall in vocational training places is likely to be 20,000-30,000 places in autumn 2003, much lower than the 70,000 earlier predicted by the Federal Labour Office. Despite this improved forecast, the survey identifies a number of employer concerns about the vocational training system.

On 24 June 2003, the Cologne Institute for Business Research (Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln, IW) published the results of a survey of 900 firms with a total of 1.6 million employees, conducted in May 2003. The survey examined the vocational training situation in Germany. Whereas the Federal Labour Office (Bundesanstalt für Arbeit, BA) recently estimated that there would be a severe shortage of approximately 70,000 vocational training places in Germany in autumn 2003 (DE0305103F), the IW results are more optimistic. According to the IW survey 'only' about 20,000 to 30,000 people are unlikely to find an apprenticeship place before new courses begin in the autumn

Nonetheless, the IW study confirms that the number of vocational training places in 2003 will be about 4% below the 2002 level. Despite this fall in the number of vocational training places, the actual gap between supply and demand will, according to the IW, be lower than the Federal Labour Office’s estimate. In particular, many enterprises with fewer than 50 employees plan either to maintain or to increase the number of training places they offer in 2003 compared with 2002. Larger firms will, however, on average decrease the number of training places they offer in 2003 compared with 2002 - see table 1 below.

Table 1. 2003 apprenticeship plans of firms with vocational training, compared with 2002
. % of firms planning to:
. increase number of apprenticeships maintain number of apprenticeships decrease number of apprenticeships
All firms with vocational training 27.8 30.3 41.9
Manufacturing 29.8 31.2 39.0
Trade and services 25.4 29.3 45.4
Firms with: .
1-49 employees 31.9 37.1 31.0
50-499 employees 28.9 33.9 37.2
More than 500 employees 23.3 21.1 55.6

Source: IW survey of 900 enterprises, 2003.

More than 90% of firms surveyed with vocational training places reported that the decrease in the number of apprenticeships is mainly due to the poor cyclical situation in the economy. However, firms also face structural problems. They noted that these problems included insufficient educational skills among applicants and a poor quality of education within vocational training itself - see table 2 below.

Table 2. Support for measures to increase number of training places among firms with vocational training
Measure Support (%)
Improvement of education for pupils 93
Tax incentives for firms with vocational training places 93
Improvement of education within vocational training 92
More practice-oriented preparation before start of vocational training 90
More flexible organisation of education in vocational training in order to increase availability of apprentices in firms 84
Abolishment of compulsory recruitment after apprenticeships, as required by collective agreements 82
Equivalence of general and vocational training 72
Subsidised loans for additional apprenticeships 69
Additional support for joint apprenticeships by several firms 68
More advice to firms 67

Source: IW survey of 900 enterprises, 2003.

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