Brandenburg’s Thomas Thumel is desperate. The 33-year-old master painter is not only the manager of a two-person company, but also a trainer. His problem: Nobody turns to him. There are many coaches like Thomas Thumel in Germany. The order books are full, but the orders are getting longer and longer. Customers have to wait months for a craftsman. This situation is becoming increasingly dangerous for the German economy.
Master painter Thumel hasn’t been doing any training for a year because he’s just not young enough. “People who try to start an apprenticeship usually drop out or leave as soon as they have their passport,” the entrepreneur told RBB. His small business couldn’t afford it. Thumel would also like to take on apprentices after his training. But none so far.
“There is no discipline among young people, there is no longer a system,” says the master painter, who has been running his business for five years. “Eight hours of work a day is a problem for many.” His verdict is devastating: “They only have roof battens on the market.”
“We are the last generation still working in construction,” the 33-year-old continues. According to Thumel, he could have hired three to four employees at the same time. “There’s nobody there, nobody wants to do it.”
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“Professionals are shrinking rapidly”
At the beginning of the new training year, Friedrich Hubert Esser, President of the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB), once again made it clear what the situation was like: “The range of specialists is rapidly decreasing: from roofers to software developers. until at”. The year-long decline in the number of apprenticeship contracts must finally be stopped. “Otherwise we won’t have anyone in the near future who builds wind turbines or installs modern heating and solar systems.”
At the same time, Esser took up the current situation: The political goal on paper, for example to free Russia from its dependence on gas and oil, is difficult to achieve if there are no trained people to do it. Can be practically applied with your own hands.
“We are missing many young people in training,” said crafts president Hans Peter Wolsefer a few days ago. He believes that there is a shortage of 1.25 million skilled workers in the trades alone. The goal, for example when installing a heat pump, is difficult to achieve.
BIBB President Esser expressed the fear that the recovery of the training market after two years of Corona as a result of the Russian war aggression might not turn out as expected, as high energy prices and the threat of gas shortages continue to burden companies. A recession is imminent.
Case of short contract and adjustment problem
Last year (until September 30) 473,100 new training contracts were concluded. In the 2000s, the average was still around 585,000 contracts per year. Second problem: From a purely mathematical point of view, there is one for everyone who is looking for an apprenticeship. But the reality is this: 63,200 training positions remained unfilled last year – that is 3,200 more than twice as many as ten years ago. At the same time, 24,600 applicants remained unfilled. Experts speak of a fit problem.
There are sectors in which there is a shortage of apprentices, for example in the food trade, in gastronomy, in butchers, plumbers, in courier services or in concrete and steel processing. Sometimes there are more applicants than elsewhere, for example in the media design, animal care or fitness industries. There are also regional differences.
Make vocational training more attractive
Internationally, the dual vocational training in Germany – the combination of theory in the vocational school with practical training in the company – is a “venerable model”, according to the Conference of Ministers of Education. The Federal Ministry of Education calls vocational training a “success factor for Germany as a place to work”.
According to Craft President Volcifer, more needs to be done politically to make vocational training in the country more attractive. He speaks of more praise, more recognition and plenty of money. “Our educational institutions and vocational schools should no longer be treated like stepchildren in terms of educational policy. Education policy must no longer be a two-class society.” Away from the idea that only a degree can bring professional and personal success.
According to the BIBB, young people and young adults can choose from a total of 327 recognized training occupations at the beginning of the new training year. The top training occupation for young women last year was “medical assistant”, for men again “vehicle mechatronics technician”.