Are young Germans now spurning apprenticeships?

From the FT, Chris Bryant reports:

…in Germany, growing numbers of school leavers are choosing to go to university instead of starting an apprenticeship, triggering alarm that small businesses will struggle to fill skilled positions.

…The number of young Germans starting an apprenticeship declined 4 per cent last year to 530,700, the lowest level since German reunification in 1990. Some 33,500 apprenticeships went unfilled, the most since 1996.

…The reasons for the falling number of apprentices are hotly debated. Partly it reflects demographic trends: there are fewer young people around today than when the baby boomer generation came of age.

Studying for an undergraduate degree has become more attractive, in part because it no longer takes so long. German students can obtain a bachelor’s degree in just three years, instead of five years for the old-style diploma.

Almost 500,000 Germans began a university degree last year, compared with fewer than 360,000 a decade ago. Nevertheless, around one-quarter of German students break off their studies prematurely and do not graduate at all.

Meanwhile, trade unions accuse cost-conscious companies of offering an insufficient number of apprenticeships, and point to an increase last year in the number of young people who were unable to find one.

Jutta Rump, director of the Institute for Employment and Employability (IBE) in Ludwigshafen, said there had indeed been a “cannibalisation” of vocational training via increasing university attendance.

The Germans can’t quite seem to extend a model that everyone else is falling in love with and trying to copy…

For the pointer I thank Jim Olds.


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