BP:
 

BIBB REPORT Edition 6/08

Which youths do not undergo/complete formal vocational training?

Analysis of important determinants, with special consideration given to the individual's education biography

Ursula Beicht, Joachim Gerd Ulrich

The share of youths who do not undergo/complete formal vocational training has been stagnating at around 15% for approximately ten years now - in other words, at a high level - according to analyses of the Microcensus. In light of the considerable labour market risks that persons who have no formal vocational qualification must live with and given the already emerging shortage of skilled labour, this state of affairs can hardly be justified in either social or economic terms. A particularly large number of youths who have not completed their schooling or who earned poor marks in school do not undergo vocational training. However family background, the area the individual lives in, gender and having children who must be looked after are also important factors. The individual's path during the first phase after leaving general academic school plays a key role. This will be shown below on the basis of data from the Transition Study conducted by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB).

Large risks from the lack of vocational qualification

The disadvantages that the lack of vocational qualification means for an individual's chances on the labour market have been known for some time now. There are extensive economic and sociological explanations for the declining employment chances of low-skilled persons (see SOLGA 2005). On top of this, the facts speak for themselves: Compared to persons who have completed formal vocational training, unemployment rates among persons without formal vocational qualification have risen disproportionately since the early 1980s (see Reinberg/Hummel 2007, p. 1). In 2005, 26.0% of all active persons with no formal vocational qualification were unemployed, compared to 9.7% of all persons with an apprenticeship certificate or a certificate from a trade and technical school and just 4.1% of all persons with a university degree.(01) The same year, unskilled workers comprised nearly half of all unemployed youths under 25 years of age (see Antoni 2007, p. 5). Looking at active persons with no vocational qualification, a large share - an estimated 20% to 40% - is presently only marginally employed (see Reinberg/Hummel 2005, p. 3). A disproportionately large share of unskilled workers is to be found in the low-wage segment of full-time employment that is liable to social security (ibid.), and only very few of these workers succeed in the longer term - in other words in the course of five to six years - to find employment in a higher wage segment (see Schank et al. 2008).

The labour market risks of persons with no formal vocational qualification will probably become even larger in the coming years because the number of jobs for unskilled workers - which has already shrunk considerably - will probably continue to decline even if the economy does well. Consequently, jobs with low qualification requirements - particularly in the industrial sector but also in the service sector - are presently at risk of being outsourced to other countries. More than 78,000 jobs of this type were eliminated in larger German firms (100 or more employees) as a result of outsourcing between 2001 and 2006; only 4,000 jobs requiring higher skill levels were outsourced during this time (see Federal Statistical Office 2008).

The Institute for the Study of Labor expects a significant "decline in jobs for that group of persons who have not completed formal vocational training.... Some 390,000 jobs in this segment will be shed by the year 2010. In contrast to the general increase in the demand for labour, this trend will continue through 2020, and the shedding of some 415,000 further jobs is to be expected" (BONIN et al. 2007, p. 80). In light of this, the probability that a person who has not undergone/completed formal vocational training becomes integrated into the employment system on a long-term basis and thus ensures their livelihood is smaller than ever.

The lack of vocational training/qualification as seen in previous studies

The question of how many youths do not undergo/complete formal vocational training is not easy to answer. The unskilled rate can be determined only on the basis of sample surveys. It was recently calculated using two data sources: firstly, the 1998 BIBB/EMNID study (see Trolsch et al. 1999) which conducted telephone interviews with more than 14,500 representatively chosen youth regarding their vocational and educational history and secondly, the Microcensus, a representative survey (1% representative sample) conducted annually by the Federal Statistical Office regarding Germany's population and labour market. The following three factors have a decisive impact on the ascertained percentage of youths who do not undergo/complete formal vocational training:

(a) The age group,
(b) The definition of 'has not undergone/completed formal vocational training',
(c) The reference date.

(a) Depending on the age groups used, the unskilled rate can vary markedly in some cases. The BIBB/EMNID survey covered young adults between 20 and 29 years of age. It calculated an overall unskilled rate for this group as well as unskilled rates for the age groups 20 to 24 and 25 to 29 years of age. The same approach was used as a rule to analyze the Microcensus (see BMBF 2006; BMBF 2008 a). However there are also calculations based on the Microcensus in which the group of persons was expanded to include even younger age cohorts - in other words, persons from 15 to 19 years of age (see Trolsch 2006) - as well as analyses that examine persons between 25 and 34 years of age (Konsortium Bildungsberichterstattung 2006).

(b) The unskilled rate depends to a very large degree on the criteria used to categorize a youth as not having undergone/completed training. There is the problem in this connection that many youths, particularly in the younger age cohorts, have not earned formal vocational qualification but are currently undergoing vocational training and therefore have at least a good chance of earning qualification sometime in the future. When this is not taken into consideration, a relatively large share of individuals who are very likely to earn vocational qualification in the future is assigned to the unskilled worker category. In order to avoid overestimating in this way, the BIBB/EMNID study did not include youths who are still undergoing vocational training or are studying at a university in the group of persons who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training.(02) The Microcensus analyses were conducted similarly: All those persons who at the time of the survey were attending an academic or vocational school, studying at university, undergoing formal in-house vocational training, participating in a further or continuing vocational training programme or were completing their basic military service or alternative service were disregarded when counting the number of unskilled persons (see BMBF 2006, Trolsch 2006).(03) However, the exclusion of these persons - many but not all of whom will earn vocational qualification - could lead to a tendency to underestimate the unskilled rate.(04)

(c) The choice of measurement date has a marked impact on the calculation of the unskilled rate: For example, more youths are in school or undergoing vocational training in spring than during the summer when the new academic/vocational training year has not yet started. The BIBB/EMNID survey was conducted in June and July 1998 and the questions regarding the youths' vocational/educational situation concerned this survey period. Until 2004, the Microcensus used the set reporting week method. In other words, answers were as a rule to be made in respect to a particular week in April, thus providing a snapshot of conditions in the spring. Starting in 2005, the Microcensus switched to a survey that was spread evenly over all 52 weeks of the year. This made it possible to calculate annual averages. It also however had the consequence that the rates calculated on the basis of the Microcensus in the years since 2005 can no longer be easily compared with the findings from previous years.

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This report will not however look any closer at the findings that were arrived at in the past using different methods and in some cases deviate quite significantly from one another. Instead, the authors will examine, using only the Microcensus analyses(05), how the number of young adults who have not undergone/completed vocational training in the age cohorts 20-to-29-year-olds and the sub-group of 20-to-24-year-olds has developed. As Chart 1 shows, the rates for youths who have not undergone/completed vocational training have remained virtually unchanged during the period 1996 through 2004: Both the overall group of 20-to-29-year-olds and the sub-group of 20-to-24-year-olds remained around 15%. It can be observed here however that the unskilled rate is not sensitive enough to structural changes in the individuals' vocational training biographies due to the narrow definition of 'has not undergone/completed formal vocational training' used. For example, the growing number of youths who had not found a training place and were attending school-based courses in the transition system (which assists individuals making the transition from the general school system to vocational training) did not lead to an arithmetic increase in the unskilled youth rate.

When the unskilled rate determined in this way is projected to the resident population between the ages of 20 and 29, the result is a total of 1.6 million youths who had not undergone/completed vocational training in 2005 - a sizable figure. The relatively sharp increase in 2005 cannot however be unconditionally interpreted as the actual amount of change in real terms. Rather, this increase was probably largely due to methodological changes in the Microcensus.

The Bildung in Deutschland 2008 national education report refers to an unskilled rate of some 17% among 20-to-29-year-olds (Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung 2008). This calculation is also based on the Microcensus. However, it excludes all persons who are completing their basic military service or alternative service. For this reason, it can be compared with the above figure only up to a point.

Statistical determinants for not undergoing/completing formal vocational training

What are the factors that determine whether a youth has a high or low risk of not earning formal vocational qualification? Answers to this question can be inferred from the BIBB Transition Study, a representative survey of youths between 18 and 24 years of age. Interviewed in the summer of 2006, the respondents provided information about their entire educational and occupational biographies (see Beicht/ Friedrich/ Ulrich 2007 and 2008). This made it possible to include detailed aspects of their education biographies as well in the analysis(06) which examined the first paths taken after completion of general schooling. These paths are said to be "highly important in predetermining the chances of earning formal vocational qualification" (Wagner 2005, p. 20).

The analysis was based on the answers provided by 2,595 youths between 20 and 24 years of age who had as a maximum an intermediate secondary school leaving certificate when they left the general education school system for the first time. The overly simplistic designation 'youths without university entrance qualification' will be used here for these individuals. Upper secondary school-leavers are not taken into account because the observation period following the end of their schooling was too short to make sound statements regarding the share of persons who have no formal vocational qualification.(07) Zudem sind Abiturienten nicht zu den gering qualifizierten Personen und damit nicht zu den "typischen" Ausbildungslosen zu zählen, da ihre hohe schulische Bildung als eine (zumindest teilweise) Kompensation für einen fehlenden Ausbildungsabschluss verstanden werden kann (vgl. Wagner 2005, S. 108).

Furthermore, upper secondary school leavers are not to be counted as low-skilled persons and thus as 'typical' unemployed persons because the high level of secondary schooling they have completed can be interpreted as (at least partial) compensation for the lack of formal vocational qualification (see Wagner 2005, p. 108). Apart from that, the (narrow) definition of not having undergone/completed formal vocational training as used for the analyses of the Microcensus was also applied here.(08) Based on this definition, only those persons who have no formal vocational qualification, who during the survey month were employed or unemployed/seeking employment, participated in a Federal Employment Agency scheme (such as vocational preparation schemes, so-called 'One Euro' jobs), took part in a company placement (including introductory training), were looking for a training place or were at home for personal reasons (such as illness or to take care of one's children) were considered 'unskilled'.

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Using an explanatory statistical model (logistic regression), it is possible - with the other factors controlled - to identify a number of determinants which have an independent effect on the risk of not undergoing/completing formal vocational training for youths without university entrance qualification. In other words, determinants that increase or reduce this risk (see Chart 2). Besides the individual youth's prior schooling and his/her parents' educational and occupational status, important influence is exerted by certain education biography patterns. A number of socio-demographic attributes also play an important role.

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Rather than being independent of one another, the determinants used for the analysis correlate with one another in some cases. Chart 3 shows the statistically significant connections between the individual attributes and the direction they take. The interaction between the individual determinants is evident here. For example, having parents who completed their general schooling and earned formal vocational qualification and a father who has a qualified job(09) has positive effect on whether an individual earns an intermediate school leaving certificate. And earning an intermediate school leaving certificate in turn reduces the risk that the individual drops out of training.(10)

The findings illustrated in Chart 2 and 3 can be summarized as follows:

  • For youths who do not have university entrance qualification, the risk of not undergoing/completing formal vocational training increases when their secondary school-level education background is not good.(11) Not only does the lack of a school-leaving certificate or a school-leaving certificate from a special-needs school have a negative effect, poor final marks on one's school-leaving certificate are also very important. As Chart 3 shows, there is a significant correlation between a poor final average and unemployment (tau = 0.101; ? = 0.001). Additionally, Chart 2 clearly shows that the final average is also of significance when other determinants are taken into consideration. The risk of not undergoing/completing vocational training increases by 51% for each point that the final average on a school leaving certificate worsens.
  • The parents' status has a marked influence: The children of parents who completed not only their secondary schooling but also earned vocational qualification are not only more successful in school; the likelihood that they do not earn vocational qualification is also much smaller. This is probably related to the fact that their chances on the training market are significantly better (see Beicht/Friedrich/Ulrich 2007 and 2008) and that they drop out less often due to being unable to meet the demands of training. Having a father with a qualified job also has a positive influence on the individual's chances of earning vocational qualification.(12) One possible explanation for this might be that a father who is well-integrated into his company's networks can give his children better access to training places and is also able to support them more during their training.
  • Socio-demographic attributes also play a role. The analyses differentiate between youths with and youths without an immigrant background. Youths with an immigrant background were broken down by whether they were born in Germany/came to Germany before they were six years old or whether they came to Germany at age six or older. Based on this breakdown, the risk of not earning any formal vocational qualification is significantly higher for persons who come to Germany after their sixth birthday; in other words, for persons who are 'late entrants' into the German school system and as a rule initially have little knowledge of the German language.(13) In contrast - when all other factors are controlled - the risk of not undergoing/completing formal vocational training is not significantly higher for youths with an immigrant background who came to Germany before their sixth birthday than it is for native youths.(14)
  • Young women are more likely than young men to earn an intermediate secondary school leaving certificate and have better averages on their final certificate. This gives them access not only to 'dual' vocational training (which combines part-time vocational schooling with practical work experience) but also, and in particular, to school-based avenues for earning full vocational qualification (see Beicht/Ulrich 2008). On the other hand, even when these and all other factors are controlled, young women have a lower risk of never undergoing/completing formal vocational training. The difference is not however related to the fact that fewer young men than young women strive for vocational training (see Beicht/Friedrich/Ulrich 2008). Still, young women apparently are more persistent than young men are when it comes to reaching their goal of earning vocational qualification and don't get as discouraged by obstacles or set-backs.
  • However, when young women have a child of their own to care for, the risk of not earning formal vocational qualification increases sharply. As a rule, vocational training requires at least the same amount of time as a full-time job and completing a vocational training programme is impossible for young mothers when sufficient external childcare options are not available.
  • The risk of not earning formal vocational qualification declines with age. This is due to the fact that some individuals start (or return to) vocational training or begin attending school after a period of having worked, been unemployed or remained at home for a while.
  • Youths from eastern Germany are more likely to earn an intermediate school leaving certificate and better marks. This explains why fewer of them do not undergo/complete formal vocational training. Based on the regression model, it cannot however be shown that the region where the individual resides in western or eastern Germany has any independent influence. This would indicate that there is ultimately no difference between Germany's eastern and western states with regard to whether an individual earns vocational qualification.
  • By contrast, the population density of the respective residential region (based on Employment Agency districts): The risk of not undergoing/completing formal vocational training is greater for youths from regions with a high or medium population density than it is for youths who live in less densely populated areas. One reason for this could be that chances of training place seekers finding a training place decline noticeably as the level of urbanization increases (see Beicht/Friedrich/Ulrich 2008). It is a fact that conurbations have more training places than rural areas do. However, many training places in urban areas go to high-achieving youths from the surrounding area. This reduces the chances of 'city kids' quite considerably.
  • The course that is set after an individual leaves the general school system is particularly important: Many youths who were not successful in school - who, for example, did not earn a school leaving certificate or who earned poor marks - do not wish to continue their education after leaving general school. Many of them do not find a training place - even after a longer period - and are therefore more at risk of not undergoing/completing vocational training.
  • The risk of never undergoing/completing vocational training is also much higher for youths who are not back in the education system within three months after ending their general schooling. Once they have remained at home, making the transition to vocational training apparently becomes more difficult. Firstly, the chances of finding a training place shrink and, secondly, their resignation apparently increases as well.
  • The risk of not undergoing/completing vocational training rockets when an individual drops out of a vocational training programme. In many cases, drop-outs do not find or do not realize there are other options for continuing their training in another company or at another training facility. However, some of these youths do not even try to find another training place: When, for example, the first occupation they chose did not appeal to them or the training was too difficult. Many do not succeed in starting another vocational training programme. This is particularly the case when the individual dropped out at a very late point in his/her training.
  • Looking at youths attending measures offered through the transition System,(15) an above-average share of these youths have a poor secondary school background and parents with lower levels of vocational qualification. Measures offered through the transition system cannot however entirely offset the disadvantages they face with regard to their chances of landing a training place and earning formal vocational qualification. Further, a one-year or two-year training course can scarcely be expected to achieve this.(16)

Self-selection processes also play a role: An individual who has repeatedly experienced failure in school and when applying for a training place can also view the mere attendance of/need to attend a transition measure as a further failure. As a result, he/she then believes even more strongly that his/her efforts to find a training place will have no chance of success. In light of this, the individual then quits seeking a training place altogether. In addition, there is the risk that others interpret the fact that an individual has attended more than one transition measure as a sign of failure, thus turning these activities into a stigma for the youths concerned.

One outcome for a sub-group of youths was surprising and seemingly contradicted the other results regarding this group of persons: The likelihood of not having undergone/completed formal vocational training by 20 to 24 years of age was also greater among youths who attended a specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school or a specialized academic upper secondary school(17) after completing their general schooling, usually with an intermediate school leaving certificate and good average marks. Under no circumstances however does this finding have to be interpreted to mean that attending a specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school or a specialized academic upper secondary school reduces the individual's long-term chances of earning formal vocational qualification. Rather, it is the consequence of the definition of 'has not undergone/completed formal vocational training' used by the authors and the fact that upon completing this level of schooling, individuals are usually already 18 or 19 years old. As a rule, many young men must then do their military service or alternative service. Thus, at the time of the survey in the summer of 2006 a relatively large share of these school leavers (particularly those under the age of 21) were looking for a training place or waiting for training to begin.

Thus the vocational training process had not yet begun for many former students of specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary schools or specialized academic upper secondary schools. In accordance with the definition used in the study, they therefore still belonged to the group of 'persons who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training'. The group of school-leavers from specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary schools or specialized academic upper secondary schools thus provides a good example for illustrating the need to always keep in mind the particular definition of 'persons who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training' being used in the particular case when interpreting the rates calculated for sub-groups.

What is the composition of the group of youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training?

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Looking at youths who are not qualified to study at university and who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training, Chart 4 shows a breakdown by resources and socio-demographic attributes.(18)

According to this breakdown, 70% have left the general school system with a lower secondary school leaving certificate at the most. A disproportionately large number of them did not earn a school leaving certificate or they have earned only a school leaving certificate from a special-needs school. And far more than half of them (62%) had a school leaving certificate with poor marks, namely an average of 3.0 or worse. In most cases, only one parent at the most had completed their secondary schooling and earned vocational qualification. The majority of fathers did not have a skilled job. Thus, not only the educational background but also the family background of many youths who have not undergone/completed vocational education tends to be unfavourable.

A breakdown by socio-demographic attributes shows that a particularly large number of youths with an immigrant background do not undergo/complete formal vocational training: They account for nearly two-fifths of all youths who do not undergo/complete formal vocational training. All in all, somewhat more young men than young women do not undergo/complete vocational training. Nearly one out of every five unskilled youths - primarily young women - has a child of their own to look after. The younger age groups (20 and 21 years old) account for a markedly larger share of youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training than the older age groups (23 and 24 years old). The largest group by far of youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training lives in areas with a medium or high population density.

The breakdowns thus show how the risk of not undergoing/completing formal vocational training varies according to attribute. It is however also clear that youths who do not undergo/complete formal vocational training constitute anything but a homogeneous group.

Typical education biographies of youths who do not undergo/complete formal vocational training

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Once important education biography-related determinants for not undergoing/completing formal vocational training were identified, the study examined more closely the paths taken after completion of their general schooling by youths who were not qualified to study at university and had not undergone/completed formal vocational training. As can be seen in Chart 5, more than one-third of these youths embarked on a vocational training programme at one time but then dropped out or did not complete it. Most of these cases involved in-company vocational training. However, a relatively large number of individuals attending other vocational training programmes for occupations that are recognized pursuant to the Vocational Training Act or vocational training programmes offered at full-time vocational schools did not pass the final examination and thus did not successfully conclude their training.

Altogether nearly two-thirds of all youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training never began vocational training, in most cases because they couldn't find a training place. In many instances they looked without success for an in-company training place at the end of their schooling or later. Half of them also looked for school-based training options - but also did not meet with success in their search. Just a few looked only for school-based vocational training and were unable to find an opening. A total of 10% of the unskilled youths however had never (had not yet) looked for a training place. More than one third of this group (35%) however attended a specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school or specialized academic upper secondary school after finishing their general schooling.

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The following section examines the education patterns exhibited in the first three years following completion of general schooling by youths who are not qualified to study at university and who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training. Using the optimal matching method (see box for more information regarding this method), the authors identified four sub-groups of youths with relatively homogeneous biographical sequence patterns.19 Since it is not possible to present in graph form all the cases examined here, Chart 6 confines itself to showing 15 education patterns for each of the persons who were randomly selected from the respective sub-groups.

Using the optimal matching method (see inter alia Brüderl/Scherer 2006, Erzberger/Prein1997, Schaeper 1999), it is possible to uncover typical time paths. The youths' activities were examined on a monthly basis starting the third month and ending the 36th month after leaving the general school system (for the first time), broken down into six types of activity (see Chart 6). The optimal matching method was used to calculate the degree of similarity between the pairs comprised from all the persons examined in the analysis. This method generated information on each person regarding how similar or dissimilar their biographical sequence pattern is compared to each of the other persons being examined. Based on this, a cluster analysis was conducted using the Ward method to type the time paths

Group 1 contains the cases where the transition system became a permanent holding pattern. After leaving the general education system, most of these youths directly enrolled in a vocational preparation scheme or attended a full-time vocational school that offers partial qualification. Three years later, nearly all persons in this group were still attending a programme in the transition system, but by that time a relatively large number were participating in a prevocational placement or earning introductory qualification. As a rule this was the second or third transitional measure, although three-quarters of the youths had looked for a training place at the end of their general schooling or later. A total of nearly one out of every five youths who did not undergo/complete vocational training (19%) exhibited such a pattern.20  This group contained a disproportionately large number of persons with no school leaving certificate or with a school leaving certificate from a special-needs school.

Those youths who were initially successful in finding a training place after completion of their general schooling - in other words, usually quickly landed in a vocational training programme that leads to full vocational qualification - are concentrated in Group 2. The persons in this group initially underwent vocational training but they then however dropped out after having been in training for a longer period or they ended their training without earning qualification. The reason for this cited by more the half of the youths21 was that the training did not appeal to them or it wasn't the right thing after all. One out of every two described their training as being difficult. In some cases they failed the interim examination or the final examination. Problems with instructors, teachers, co-workers or other students were cited equally often. Personal, financial or health-related difficulties frequently played a role as well. Approximately one-fourth of the youths had been given notice by the company providing their training. In some cases the company had gone bankrupt. After their training had been broken off, most of these youths were unemployed or initially remained at home for personal or other reasons. All in all, 18% of the youths without formal vocational qualification reported such a history. This number includes an above-average portion of young men, youths who had completed lower secondary school at most, and persons with an immigrant background. Group 3 contains youths who, after completing their general schooling, attended a specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school or specialized academic upper secondary school and thereafter did not take up vocational training.22 Two-fifths of these youths had not been able to find a training place by the time their general schooling ended. Three-fifths however had directly decided to continue attending school in order to earn a higher level of school leaving qualification.

Most of these youths attended a specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school or specialized academic upper secondary school to the end. Approximately one-fourth of them however dropped out. Here too, the most frequently cited reasons for dropping out were that the school turned out not to be the right thing for the individual or the demands were too high. Nearly three-fourths of the youths completed specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school or specialized academic upper secondary school with qualification to attend any regular university in Germany or qualification to attend any university of applied sciences in Germany. These individuals are therefore definitely not to be ranked among the 'typical' youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training.

Seventeen per cent of the youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training exhibit this pattern. This group includes many youths with good marks on their school leaving certificate from a general academic school and a relatively large number of young men. Given that these youths had already performed well in school, it can be expected that they will be the most likely to earn formal vocational training in the next few years.

At first glance, the paths taken by Group 4 are less homogeneous. The common ground that the individuals in this group share is however that they did not succeed in starting a vocational training programme after a longer phase of being at home and/or employment, even when they had previously participated in a training scheme provided through the transition system. This cannot be explained by a general lack of desire for vocational training on the part of these youths. Indeed, more than 95% of them had looked for a training place over time. Some of them had even started vocational training at one time but then discontinued it after a short time. Altogether, 46% of all youths who had not undergone/completed formal vocational training belong to this group. Many of the individuals in this group are youths who had not completed their secondary schooling or who had earned a school leaving certificate from a special-needs school or a lower secondary school leaving certificate or were persons with an immigrant background. Young mothers with a child to care for were also to be found in particularly large numbers in this group

 

Current situation of youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training

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Looking at the occupational situation of unskilled youths at the time of the survey in the summer of 2006, only one in every three youths who had not undergone/completed formal vocational training (34%) was employed at the time, and a quite sizable share of this group worked less than 20 hours a week (see Chart 7).

More than one out of every ten was participating in a non-school-based measure offered through the transition system. Rather than being in the education system or employment system, more than half (55%) of them were currently unemployed or staying at home for personal reasons. A comparison with other youths also makes it particularly clear just how unfavourable the situation of unskilled youths is: A much larger portion of the former group (skilled youths) was gainfully employed (47%) - plus almost all of them worked more than 20 hours a week - and a much smaller share was not in the education system or the employment system (13%).

Most unskilled youths have a shared experience with failure that for many began during their general schooling and continued on through their search for a training place or during their vocational training.

This apparently also influences the way they see themselves: Compared to other youths, significantly fewer unskilled youths23 say they have a lot to be proud of (unskilled youths: 81%, other youths: 94%) - this is particularly the case with those unskilled youths who dropped out of their vocational training late in the programme (59%). Youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training are also less optimistic about the future (69% compared to 80% of other youths). Once again, youths who dropped out at a later point in time are even less optimistic (52%).

On the other hand, a feeling of impotence and fatalism ('external locus of control' or 'pawn feeling') are considerably more widespread among unskilled youths. In other words, more of these youths are convinced that their lives are decided by others (30% compared to 21%), that they cannot change anything about things that bother them (51% compared to 38%) and that success depends more on luck than on one's performance (34% compared to 29%). This attitude is also particularly strong among drop-outs: Nearly four out of every five (79%) are of the opinion that when something bothers them they are unable to do anything about it. In fact, 5% of youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training (compared to less than 1% of all other youths) drastically describe themselves as failures. This figure rises to 7% among those youths who already stayed at home or worked for a longer period of time.

Summary and conclusions

As a rule, completion of formal vocational training constitutes the minimum level of qualification needed for entering the working world today. In fact, companies now prefer to hire persons who have completed formal vocational training even for jobs that tend to require low skill levels (see BMBF 2008 b). Furthermore, those jobs with low skill requirements that still exist in Germany are at risk of being outsourced to other countries. Consequently, the job market risk of unskilled individuals will grow in the future. Most recently, unskilled youths comprised at least 15% of all youths. This rate is much too high for a learning society. Individuals whose education and family backgrounds are unfavourable are especially at enormous risk of not earning formal vocational qualification. A particularly large share of youths who have an immigrant background and came to Germany after the age of six are also at risk, as are young women who already have a child they must look after.

The individual's first stations after leaving the general school system are very decisive. In most cases, the unskilled youths in this study initially aspired to obtaining vocational training. Nearly all of them looked for a training place at the end of their secondary schooling or later - quite often however without success. Only a few youths never had the wish to receive vocational training, most likely primarily because they reckoned they did not have a chance of landing a training place because of their poor performance in school to date. In many cases, youths do not succeed in taking up vocational training after they have participated in a succession of measures conducted through the transition system following their schooling or once they have been employed or remained at home for a longer period of time. A portion of unskilled youths does succeed in starting a vocational training programme but then drops out, often at a relatively late point in their training. Many youths in such cases do not start a new vocational training programme.

Youths who attend a specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school or specialized academic upper secondary school after finishing their general schooling constituted a special group. A relatively large number of youths in this group - and particularly those who were 20 or 21 years old - was still looking for a training place or is applying for admission to university and many of them are jobbing around in the meantime. A longer observation period than allowed for by the BIBB Transition Study would be needed in order to make sound statements about this group of school leavers' chances of earning formal vocational qualification. Upon earning qualification entitling the holder to study at a regular university or a university of applied sciences, these people are certainly anything but low-skilled persons.

The situation is probably more difficult for those youths who have not undergone/completed vocational training and who left a specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school or specialized academic upper secondary school without earning a school leaving certificate. This was the case for 16% of the school leavers from specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary schools and 13% of the school leavers from specialized academic upper secondary schools (including two-year full-time vocational schools where vocationally qualified or working individuals can earn qualification to study a specific subject at university, and technical upper secondary schools) in 2005/2006 (see Federal Statistical Office 2007).24

Thus, youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training do not constitute a homogeneous group. They differ considerably in some cases, not only in terms of their personal attributes but also with regard to their education biographies. Many of them are older than a person who has no qualification to attend university would normally be when he/she starts a traditional initial vocational training programme. Being an unplaced training place applicant from a previous year, their chances of landing a training place dwindle with time (see Ulrich/Krekel 2007, Eberhard/Krewerth/Ulrich 2005). It remains to be seen whether and to what extent the training bonus - the government subsidy that is to be offered starting the autumn of 2008 to enterprises that create additional training places and fill them with unplaced applicants from previous years (see Troltsch/ Gericke/Saxer 2008) - will bring any fundamental change in this regard.

For many youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training, earning formal vocational qualification through a 'conventional' vocational training programme is also made more difficult as a result of their particular personal situation - such as needing the income they generate through their job - as well as the fact that they are less and less in the habit of learning. Second-chance qualification paths which are specially tailored to the needs of young unskilled adults are therefore probably a better option in many cases. Suitable concepts for modular qualification-driven second-chance vocational training during employment have already been developed and successfully tested in the course of a series of pilot schemes conducted by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (see Granato/ Gutschow 2004).25

Organizing vocational training so that it can be conducted while the individual continues to work makes it possible to combine training with part-time employment. Alternatively, it can be planned as a combination of training and long phases of in-company work placements. The modular structure used in this approach makes it possible to tie into and build on the individual's existing knowledge, previous occupational experience and informally acquired skills. Thus, this type of training makes it possible to resume a training scheme that had been discontinued or a vocational training programme that the individual previously dropped out of. With modules, very diverse educational backgrounds can be taken into account - a particular advantage in light of the heterogeneous group that these unskilled youths comprise. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research launched funding programmes for modular second-chance vocational qualification programmes in 2008. To cite one example, the Perspektive Berufsabschluss campaign funds the "qualification-driven modular second-chance training" for low-skilled individuals (see BMBF 2008 c). Acting on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BIBB will use the JOBSTARTER CONNECT programme to fund projects that, for example, develop second-chance training measures for young unskilled or semi-skilled adults using training modules that are the same nation-wide (see BMBF 2008 d).

In the summer of 2008, the BIBB Board chose as a priority focal issue the special difficulties that young mothers in particular must deal with when undergoing formal vocational training. At its meeting on 27 June 2008, the Board adopted the first recommendation ever on extending or shortening the duration of vocational training that also covers part-time vocational training. This recommendation aims to up an avenue for better balancing the demands of vocational training and child-rearing by allowing the number of training hours per day or week to be reduced. The statutory basis for this option was already created when the Vocational Training Act (Section 8) was amended in 2005.

Every effort should be made to lead as many as possible of the more than 1.5 million youths in Germany who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training to formal vocational qualification through a conventional vocational training programme, part-time vocational training or the tried and tested second-chance vocational training path. Only in this way will it be possible to integrate these young people into the employment system on a long-term basis and thus secure their livelihoods and help them avoid dependence on government transfers.

In light of the far-reaching demographic changes and the already emerging shortage of skilled labour, trade and industry must also however have a particular interest in making use of the 'hidden reserves' lying fallow in the form of this group of persons who could be trained and employed. For this reason, firms should give a much larger number of young unskilled adults a second chance than they have in the past.

Education policy efforts in the future should however also be particularly aimed at ensuring that all youths when possible receive 'classical vocational training' right from the start and that the share of unskilled youths shrinks substantially. The positive trend currently seen on the training place market offers favourable conditions for this.

  • 1 Even if the unemployment rate has been falling recently in the wake of Germany's economic recovery, it can under no circumstances be assumed that there has been a fundamental change in the different qualification-specific labour market risks.
  • 2 These persons are however contained in the denominator used to calculate the unskilled persons rate (youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training x 100/total number of youths).
  • 3 Persons who had not earned formal vocational qualification and held a job which they were taught on the fly were categorized as unskilled individuals here.
  • 4 On the other hand however, it can also be expected that some of the youths who are defined as persons who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training will earn formal vocational qualification at some later point in time. Given the fact that today transition, vocational training and second-chance training processes have often been considerably lengthened, it would be worth considering whether it might not be more appropriate to draw the cut-off age at 35 in future.
  • 5 Due to its enormous sample size and the respondents' obligation to provide information, the Microcensus is probably the most reliable source of data for determining the unskilled rate.
  • 6 More recent studies that are available on youths who have not undergone/completed formal vocational training have not yet done this (see WAGNER 2005, TROLTSCH 1999). The Microcensus does not provide any data on this.
  • 7 However, all youths have been included who initially had an intermediate school leaving certificate at most and then later earned qualification to study at a regular university or a university of applied sciences at a specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school or a specialized academic upper secondary school because these types of schools are not classified as general education schools but rather as vocational schools.
  • 8 Calculated on the basis of the BIBB Transition Study, the unskilled rate for the entire group of 20-to-24-year-olds (including persons with qualification to enter a regular university or a university of applied sciences) is 15.8% (weighted). This deviates only marginally from the 16.7% unskilled rate that was calculated on the basis of the 2005 Microcensus. In the case of youths who left the general education system with an intermediate school leaving certificate at most, the weighted unskilled rate calculated by the BIBB Transition Study is 14.8%.
  • 9 This was based on the father's occupational status (or that of the mother when she was the head of household) when the particular youth was 15 years old
  • 10 The chart also shows the correlation between the individual attributes and the dependent 'did not undergo/complete formal vocational training' variable of the regression model. This makes it clear which correlations emerge on a bivariate basis, in other words, without controlling the other variables.
  • 11 The individual attributes described here had significant independent influence on the risk of not undergoing/completing vocational training..
  • 12 However, as an independent influence in the regression model, this is significant only at the 10% level.
  • 13 It must be noted here that only youths who had a sufficient knowledge of German could be interviewed.
  • 14 This is however different when viewed on a bivariate basis. In this case, the connection between unemployment and an immigrant background are equally pronounced, regardless of how long the individual has lived in Germany.
  • 15 These include vocational preparation courses, prevocational training years, basic vocational training years, full-time vocational schools that lead to partial qualification, practical placements, and introductory training schemes for young people.
  • 16 However, due to the shortage of training places in recent years, a very large number of young people who certainly could have directly started formal vocational training if the conditions on the training place market had been better also ended up attending courses offered by the transition system. A relatively large number of these youths succeeded in landing a training place after they had completed a measure of this type (cf. BEICHT/FRIEDRICH/ULRICH 2008).
  • 17 Including two-year full-time vocational schools where vocationally qualified or working individuals can earn qualification to study a specific subject at university, and technical upper secondary schools.
  • 18 The breakdown shown here uses weighted values. The sample was adjusted to bring it into line with the structures of the parent population by weighting it according to important attributes, most particularly age and level of secondary education (cf. BEICHT/FRIEDRICH/ULRICH 2008).
  • 19 See BEICHT/ FRIEDRICH/ULRICH 2008, section 4.3.3 for details of the analyses. An analogous approach was used here. Concurrent activities were ranked, with education activities always having priority over any other activity (e.g., jobbing around). All costs entered in the opportunity cost matrix were given a value of 1, except for substitutions between the last two types of activity (due to the similarity of the categories. In other words, in both cases, the youths were at home), where costs were estimated at only 0.5.
  • 20 These are also weighted share values.
  • 21 More than one reason could be cited for having discontinued training.
  • 22 Some individuals first completed a course offered through the transition system. In some cases the individual returned to a general education school after having not attended for a while.
  • 23 Chi-Quadrat-Test.
  • 24 These shares were only 9% (specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school) and 11% (specialized academic upper secondary school) in the early 1990s. Apparently the shortage of training places that has developed in the years since then has led to more persons who had earned an intermediate school leaving certificate and who would have fulfilled the prerequisites on paper for undergoing vocational training yet had difficulties meeting the demands of a vocational training programme ending up in a specialized vocationally-oriented upper secondary school or specialized academic upper secondary school.
  • 25

    Umfangreiche Informationen zum Thema "Nachqualifizierung" finden sich in den Internetportalen, die in der Rubrik "weiterführende Literatur" am Ende aufgeführt sind.

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Extensive information on the subject of second-chance qualification can be downloaded from the Good Practice Center - Förderung von Benachteiligten in der Berufsbildung website" (www.good-practice.de/),,the website Neue Wege zum Berufsabschluss - Berufsbegleitende Nachqualifizierung an- und ungelernter junger Erwachsener (www.berufsabschluss.de/index.html)  set up by the Institute for Vocational Training, Labour Market and Social Policy in collaboration with the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training and the website Qualifizierung gering Qualifizierter (www.transfer-qualifizierungswege.de/c.php/transqual/index.rsys) of the Berufliche Fortbildungszentren der Bayerischen Wirtschaft (bfz = Training and Development Centers of the Bavarian Employers' Associations).

Impressum BIBB REPORT

BIBB REPORT
Volume 2, Issue 6, October 2008
ISSN Internet: 1869-2761
ISSN Print: 1865-0821


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