Georg would like to become a mathematician like his father, who manages data on the screen in the pharmaceutical industry. He also thinks scaffolding is cool. He does not know yet, says the 14-year-old. Lea is 13 and wants to work in an office, make good money and have a lot of free time. Her father is a computer scientist and she could also imagine doing the same as him. All Kian knows is that he does not want to be a police officer like his father. His mother works as a cosmetologist.
The three are in 8th grade at an integrated high school in Köpenick. In ninth grade, there is a two-week student internship. No idea where it will take them, they say. Many doors are open to them. If you choose dual education, you have the choice of more than 320 professions in Germany.
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The chances of finding a job are better than ever: the shortage of skilled labor is obvious, more than 1.7 million jobs are vacant according to the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) – and the supply in the education market is also greater than the demand . Nearly 40 percent of all jobs remain vacant nationwide, according to a study by the employer-related Institute of German Economics (IW). The trend started already in 2013, since then the number of vacancies has increased continuously.
The supply increases a little, but it does not solve the problem
The subject is complex and employers have been criticized for years for providing fewer and fewer training places. In the past academic year, 473,100 new education contracts were entered into per. 30th of September. That’s 5,600 more than in the first year of the pandemic, 2020 – but 52,000 fewer than in 2019, according to the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB).
The fact that the supply is now rising again a bit can hardly solve the problem: Fewer and fewer school graduates want to take a vocational education. In the fall of 2021, demand fell to its lowest level since 1992, and according to BIBB, the number fell by a further 4,800 to 540,900. The reasons for this are different. Therefore, there is no simple solution.
Many young people prefer to study. “Mismatching” is another reason. The concept stands for that jobs and applicants are not connected – or not connected. Many young people do not want to become bakers or meat sellers, plumbers, concrete workers or gastronomy specialists, but instead become photographers or media designers. In addition, some employers have requirements that do not always correspond to the applicant situation.
The three students from Köpenick probably did not even notice that the Chancellor was now taking care of the matter. Associations, ministries, unions and employers last year joined an alliance on education and training and are trying to win young people to dual education through information events. Scholz announced this on the Allianz website.
Last week, teacher Johanna Groll sent her class from Köpenick to the Berlin talent check at the North Employment Agency in Charlottenburg. “Because they have no idea what they can do,” she says, hoping the youngsters will leave the check with more confidence. Above all, however, the event is about professional orientation, because it is now considered to be one of the great levers to reverse the dramatic trend.
The project, which was initiated with the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the skilled workers and the Berlin Senate, has existed since September, says project manager Christina Brandenburg. Since the opening, 2,500 students have walked through the former employment offices, which at great expense have been converted into “showrooms”, through the yellow corridors, rooms with glittering or mirrored walls and the sound-absorbing carpets on the floor. They sat in front of a screen for two and a half hours, filling in questions about their knowledge of German and mathematics and their preferences in the employment service’s scientifically based career choice test.
We lack trainees – who else will install wind turbines?
In a room without windows reminiscent of a practical museum, they tested how good their memory is, assigned emotional faces, led a ring over a meandering rod with more or less motor skills and used programming commands to create a monkey on a screen move towards a banana.
One of the labor market experts looking for solutions to the socially pressing trainee problem is the head of the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB), Friedrich Esser. “We need interns who will otherwise install our wind turbines and put the solar cells on the roof in the future,” he said at an event organized by the Organization for Economic Co-operation (OECD). Vocational education needs to become more attractive and its opportunities better known. You can also make a career and make good money in the subjects. “A master’s degree is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree,” Esser says.
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However, the problem is deeply rooted in society. There is a promise of progress from generation to generation. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the grandfather often worked in mining, the son in a “clerical job”, for example as an industrial clerk, and the grandson is now studying business economics. Physical work is not trendy.
Families have not yet realized how modern and digital apprenticeships are today, from installation jobs to electrical engineering. Aces fights for nothing less than social change, so that high school students should also consider an apprenticeship. To do this, you need to involve parents and teachers in the job information, for many of them have never even seen the inside of a craft business.
One of the talent checkrooms has colorful walls with large screens. The young people put on headphones and use hand gestures to navigate through different work environments, which, for example, show them which apprenticeships are involved in the manufacture of an electric scooter. The whole check takes five and a half hours. The evaluation takes place later, by the employment service’s career counselor in the respective school.
Many young people worry about their professional future
“There is still a long way to go,” said Kian from Köpenick. According to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, many young people are worried about their opportunities in the training market and would like more support. Among 1,666 respondents between the ages of 14 and 20, 54 percent see that their chances are exacerbated by the pandemic. And among young people with a low level of education, almost every second person had this impression. Apparently there is still a lack of information and education.