Berlin Officially, the new training year begins on August 1st. But the year 2020 will be different: the start of the new trainees will probably be postponed by two months. Because many companies are reluctant to hire new apprentices, reports the President of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Friedrich Hubert Esser. “However, it would be fatal if the bottom line was to sign significantly fewer new training contracts – because that threatens the supply of skilled workers to the economy in the medium term,” he told Handelsblatt.

“It is imperative that we prevent the corona lockdown from being followed by a lockdown due to a shortage of skilled workers,” warns Esser. This danger has “increased in recent weeks, because there are now assumptions that the economy in Germany after Corona will recover rather than V-shaped – so the recovery phase could start later and last longer” .

BIBB fears that the number of apprenticeships available may drop by up to 50,000. In the craft sector, almost 17 percent fewer contracts were concluded by the end of June; Already in April, one in four craftsmen said they wanted to train less. “That would be a huge drop,” said Esser.

A survey by the DIHK showed that companies in industry and trade may offer seven percent fewer places, in the catering sector even 30 percent. The number of new contracts already signed was recently 20 percent below the previous year.

All of these are currently still snapshots. Not only companies are waiting, school leavers are also unsettled. Due to Corona, there was hardly any professional orientation due to Corona, training fairs and trial internships no longer existed, and analogous getting to know each other was simply not possible for a long time.

It is uncertain whether the training grants for companies with up to 259 employees, which were decided at the end of June because of Corona, will have a major effect. Companies that receive apprenticeships or even offer additional ones therefore receive 2,000 or 3,000 euros if they are economically affected by the crisis.

Companies need further relief in training costs

These premiums could also motivate, says DIHK CEO Martin Wansleben, but the federal government has to set the pace for this. Because “the details of the application process are still not clear. I expect a quick, efficient and unbureaucratic process for the companies. “

President of the trade, Hans Peter Wollseifer, praises the premiums as “the first important signal”, “but especially in the current crisis situation, securing skilled workers must be tackled again in the long term, and not only selectively,” he demands. For this, the “comprehensive modernization of the vocational training infrastructure, a strong digitalization boost in vocational training and also in vocational orientation are necessary”.

And that’s not all: In order for companies to be able to train more, “further relief is needed, for example with social security contributions, which they have to bear in connection with training”.
For now, however, the trend towards academization will intensify again this year, Esser is convinced. “For fear of bankruptcy, many school leavers with a high school diploma – and especially their parents – will prefer the supposedly safer way to school or university education.”

However, this “would destroy part of the revival of dual training that we had recently achieved,” warns the BIBB President. Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek (CDU) had tried various measures to strengthen teaching – right down to the new minimum wages for trainees, which will apply from autumn.

However, if interest in vocational training declines again, this would further exacerbate the disproportion: Because today, especially in the commercial-technical area, there are far more professionally trained specialists than academics. This is especially true in the mint area.

Companies also have to make provisions for personnel

“Of course, a company that has water up to its neck does not want to hire a new trainee. But we have to make it clear to the companies that they now have to make provisions for their staff, ”appeals Esser. It is not just about supplying young people, for whom the Federal President had vehemently promoted with the social partners, “it is about securing the skilled workers of tomorrow, which they should not neglect out of their own interest”. One must therefore advertise that an apprenticeship can still start in autumn and winter, since this is even unknown in some companies.

If it shows at the end of September that the slump is massive, “politicians would have to take countermeasures again and strengthen the incentives for dual training: Then it might be helpful if the federal government coupled economic stimulus and tax breaks to a certain level of training” recommends Esser.

He sees the chambers, guilds and district tradesmen as obliged to organize many more training associations on site. Because the training bonus alone is often not enough for many smaller companies. If they could also rely on a network, they might be more likely to hire more apprentices.

The BIBB President fears that the risk of falling through the grid is particularly great this year for the weaker school leavers. “As a result, the so-called transition area is likely to grow significantly again.” Therefore, one has to advertise here again for entry-level qualifications and opportunities to evade inter-company training. The transition area has been reduced from more than 300,000 to 255,000 participants since 2016.

The BIBB President does not yet expect a large decline in large companies in 2020, because they conclude the contracts very early, i.e. before Corona. “But I am very concerned that they will also delay their training commitment in 2021 – depending on how the global economy develops.”

More: Many apprenticeships will be lost due to the damage caused by the corona crisis this year. Nevertheless, there are still vacant apprenticeships.