German companies are wooing potential trainees with smartphones, gym memberships and other perks, a survey has found, because employers are so desperate to find young people to fill vocational apprenticeships. But the youngsters are just not coming, either because they’re off to university or have other offers and interests. To fill at least some of their trainee spots, firms are now approaching university dropouts and refugees.
In Germany as a whole, nearly one in three companies can’t find school-leavers to fill the trainee posts they offer, according to the survey by the DIHK, the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce. In eastern Germany, the situation is particularly dire, with 41 percent of companies unable to fill slots. Almost one in ten companies offering vocational training – around 15,000 in total – didn’t receive a single application in 2016.
This dearth of interest puts a strain on Germany’s vaunted vocational-training system, which several other countries, including America, are studying as a potential model to fight youth unemployment. “We are running out of fresh blood,” is how Eric Schweitzer, the president of the DIHK, summarized the findings, which are based on the replies of 11,000 companies. Mr. Schweitzer expects as many as 40,000 trainee positions to remain unfilled in the coming year.