BP:
 

BIBB REPORT Edition 1/07

Findings from the 2006 BA/BIBB Vocational Training Applicant Survey conducted by the Federal Employment Agency and the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training

Joachim Gerd Ulrich, Elisabeth M. Krekel

The share of unplaced training place applicants from previous years out of all training place applicants has grown steadily in recent years. However, this group in particular has considerable difficulties finding a training place. Although unplaced applicants from previous years have equally good marks to show as applicants who are 'first-year' training place seekers, the former group's chances of actually landing a training place are smaller. The chances of finding a training place also diminish the longer an unplaced applicant from previous years has been looking for a training place. Nevertheless, there are factors that can make it easier for such individuals to get started with vocational training. Completing higher levels of secondary school, earning good marks and finishing an introductory training programme increase their chances of being accepted for vocational training.

Who is an unplaced applicant from previous years?

The share of those training place seekers who had left secondary school prior to the current reporting year out of all training place seekers who were registered with the Federal Employment Agency (BA) topped the 50% mark for the first time in 2006.1 It is assumed that many training place seekers in this group are unplaced training place applicants from previous years.

This is not however certain because not all applicants who left secondary school prior to the current year are necessarily unplaced applicants from previous years. One example of this would be a young man who completed his secondary schooling in 2004, did military service and then applied for a training place for the first time in 2006, two years after leaving school.

By the same token, an applicant who left secondary school during the current placement year could be an unplaced applicant from previous years when he or she had failed to land a training place in, for example, 2004 and consequently resumed and completed his or her education at a general secondary school. For this reason, when conducting the BA/BIBB Vocational Training Place Applicant Survey, 2 the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) counts all those persons as being an unplaced applicant from previous years who indicate that they had already applied in the past for a training place that would have begun before the current vocational training year.

Background information

The situation on the training place market in Germany became increasingly tight in the years since the early 1990s. The reasons for this development include the continually growing number of school leavers from general secondary schools and a decline in the number of training places being offered for initial vocational training. Compared to the early 1990s when substantially more than 70 new training contracts were signed for every 100 school leavers, this figure was only some 61 in 2006. Given this shortage of training places, many unsuccessful training place seekers took up an alternative to initial vocational training (such as continuing their general secondary schooling, jobbing around, doing an internship) for the time being before they resumed applying for training places the following year. The unplaced applicants from previous years subsequently compete with the current year's school leavers for vacant training places.

BThe 2006 BA/BIBB Vocational Training Place Applicant Survey was a representative survey of some 4,500 persons. The survey was conducted by mail. The parent population consisted of those 762,766 training place seekers who had registered with the Federal Employment Agency during the 2005/2006 reporting year and were resident in Germany. The sample was drawn by the Federal Employment Agency. The survey was conducted on an anonymous basis between the end of November 2006 and 28 February 2007. A total of 9,457 persons were contacted in writing. The participants were chosen randomly in collaboration with all Federal Employment Agency districts. A total of 4,637 individuals (49%) responded. All questionnaires that were received after the deadline, were largely incomplete or could not be clearly attributed to a specific region were not evaluated. In the end, 4,513 questionnaires were evaluated. The findings were weighted and projected using a potential/actual adjustment. Projection attributes were the applicants' region of origin, gender and official destination classification. Based on this, the distribution of other attributes in the parent population which had not been included in the weighting and projection model (such as level of education completed and nationality) could be reproduced very well.

Number of unplaced applicants from previous years

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Extrapolating on the basis of the 2006 3 BA/BIBB Vocational Training Place Applicant Survey, a total of 302,100 unplaced applicants from previous years could be identified. This represents 40% of all applicants who were registered with the Federal Employment Agency. This figure was four percentage points higher than in the 2004 BA/BIBB Vocational Training Place Applicant Survey (266,700 or 36%).4 Just under half of the 302,100 unplaced applicants from previous years had applied for a training place for the first time ever in 2005, one quarter in 2004 and not quite a quarter in even earlier years. For 1% of the unplaced applicants it was not possible to ascertain which year they had first applied for a training place (see Table 1).

Significant attributes of unplaced applicants from previous years

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Age
By definition, unplaced applicants from earlier years are on average markedly older than other applicants. Nearly all of them (85%) have reached the age of majority. By comparison, less than half (47%) of the other applicants are of age (see Table 2).

Immigrant background
The proportion of youths with an immigrant background5 is somewhat larger among unplaced applicants from previous years. Twenty-nine per cent of unplaced applicants from previous years have an immigrant background. This figure is only 21% among other applicants.

Gender
At 48%, the share of young women is slightly larger among unplaced applicants from previous years than it is among other applicants (45%).

Level of education
All in all, the education levels of applicants from previous years are just as high as those reported by other applicants. Persons with a school leaving certificate from a lower secondary school can be found somewhat more frequently among unplaced applicants from previous years. On the other hand however, the group of unplaced applicants from previous years also counts a noticeably larger number of persons who have earned qualification to enrol in a university of applied sciences than the group of other applicants does. Furthermore, the portion of persons who have not earned a school leaving certificate is smaller among the group of unplaced applicants from previous years. The fact that unplaced applicants from previous years constitute a particularly large share of all applicants with qualification to enrol in a university of applied sciences (59%) and that only a small number of unplaced applicants from previous years do not have a school leaving certificate must be viewed in conjunction with the training services provided by the so-called transition system.
The fact that the number of training place seekers who had qualification to enrol in a university of applied sciences and were registered with the Federal Employment Agency increased considerably in 2006 (+6,302 or +19.9%) therefore probably has less to do with the introduction of tuition at German universities than with the strategies pursued by previously unsuccessful training place seekers, namely, to increase their chances of landing a training place by earning qualification for university studies. At the time of the survey, 50% of the unplaced applicants from previous years who were qualified to enrol in a university of applied sciences were undergoing initial in-company vocational training while only 9% had started university studies. Twenty-one per cent of the unplaced applicants from previous years who held qualification to enrol in a university of applied sciences said that the cost of studying prevented them from pursuing university studies.

Destination of unplaced applicants from previous years as of 31 December 2006

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Thirty-four per cent of the unplaced applicants from previous years were undergoing in-company vocational training as of 31 December 2006. The share of those unplaced applicants from previous years who had already tried to find a training place more then two years ago was particularly small (25%). By contrast, at 38%, the share of unplaced applicants who applied for a training place for the first time in 2005 was only slightly smaller than the share seen among other applicants (39%, see Table 3).

Unplaced applicants from previous years were more likely than other applicants to undergo extra-company training (9% as compared to 6%). In addition, a larger share of unplaced applicants jobbed around or worked (12% compared to 5%). However they were also more likely to be out of work (13% compared to 7%). Only 9% of unplaced applicants from previous years decided to go back to school at a general secondary school or a vocational school. This figure was 20% among other applicants.

Unplaced applicants from previous years who had already tried to finding a training place more than two years ago found themselves in an above-average precarious situation. In addition to the 25% who were undergoing in-company training, another 17% were participating in (extra-company, school-based, university-level) vocational training that would lead to full vocational qualification. However, 20% were unemployed, 18% jobbed around or worked. Only 4% earned further basic school-based qualification.

Determinants for the transition to vocational training

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Which attributes foster unplaced applicants' transition to vocational training? The answers vary in part, depending on the type of vocational training.

In the case of in-company vocational training provided for occupations that fall under the Vocational Training Act / Crafts and Trade Code, the key determinants are decided by the market character of the selection process. For this reason, the level of the individual's school leaving certificate and marks are particularly important in such cases. These two aspects work virtually additively together (see Chart 4). The continuation rate ranges from 20% among applicants who have no more than an intermediate secondary school leaving certificate and just sufficient marks in mathematics to 63% among upper secondary school leavers with good or very good marks in mathematics. In addition, intermediate secondary school leavers with good marks in mathematics not only have better chances of finding in-company vocational training but also overall better chances of landing a training place that leads to full vocational qualification than individuals with mid-level school qualification in combination with poor marks in mathematics.

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In addition to the individual's level of secondary education and marks in mathematics, his/her achievement in German also play a role in whether he/she finds an in-company training place. There are a number of further factors that are significant for the individual's transition to in-company vocational training (see Table 5).

Completing an introductory training programme or finishing (advanced-level) commercial school are particularly advantageous. Breaking off vocational training has a negative impact. This however can be partly attributed to the fact that in a number of cases the survey was conducted just shortly after the training was broken off and there hadn't been enough time for the respondent to start a new round of applications. Extending one's search beyond the immediate region has a positive effect on finding an in-company training place while a lack of willingness to make an effort hinders success.

In contrast to the group of all training place seekers, an immigrant background did not play any decisive role. However, the region the applicant lived in - or rather: the local employment situation - did. The share of unplaced applicants from previous years who began in-company training was smaller when they lived in a region with a higher unemployment rate. This is also a reason why the chances that youths from Germany's eastern states make the transition to the vocational training system are noticeably poorer.

A particularly large number of extra-company training places are offered in the eastern half of the country with the aim of improving the chances of youths there. As a result, when these extra-company training places are included in the calculation, the overall placement rates for 'dual' vocational training (which combines part-time vocational schooling with practical work experience) are in fact higher in Germany's eastern states and Berlin than they are in the western half of the country.

The determinants examined in this study correlated in part with one another. Logistic regressions were additionally calculated in order to ascertain which aspects are still significant when all potential factors are taken into consideration at the same time. The findings are shown in the right-hand section of Table 5.

Based on this, in the interplay between all factors, a good school leaving certificate and good marks are the primary contributors to an applicant's success. Looking at the pathways offered by the transition system, attending (advanced-level) commercial school or an introductory training programme are particularly helpful. The quite positive effect that attending a specialised upper secondary school has on landing an in-company vocational training place is not significant here solely because it correlates with earning qualification to enrol in a university. The very negative effect that having applied for an in-company training place for the first time more than two years ago has is striking. It cannot be ruled out that the applicant's age in conjunction with a continued lack of success becomes a stigma which in itself hinders the individual's efforts to find a training place.

How do unplaced applicants from previous years rate their destination?

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Unplaced applicants from previous years exhibit considerable difference in how they rate what their destination following the end of the placement year. Some 70% of those who were able to start in-company vocational training stated that this tallies with their wishes (see Chart 6). The assessment of those who are participating in other measures that lead to full vocational qualification is somewhat less favourable. Those persons who are in the transition system (e.g. practical placement, vocational school, general secondary school) are even less satisfied. Only a few in this group report that this pathway reflects what they would like. These individuals tend to view their current pathway as an alternative that was not planned but is quite sensible ('tide-over measure'). By contrast, unemployed individuals in particular view their current situation as a dead end.

Potential number of unplaced applicants from previous years in the future

Of the 302,100 unplaced applicants from previous years who were carried over into the 2006 placement year, 168,300 did not have a training place in the dual vocational training system at the end of the year. Looking at this latter group, 142,800 were still interested in finding a vocational training place. This figure included 78,400 who still wanted to start vocational training during the ongoing training year, 54,500 who targeted the 2007/08 training year and 9,900 who wanted to start sometime even later than this.

The potential number of unplaced applicants from previous years is also fed by the 182,300 persons who have not been counted as an unplaced applicant to date. The individuals in this group were not undergoing training in the dual vocational training system at the end of 2006 but were still considering taking up initial vocational training. Looking at this group, 65,700 preferred to start initial vocational training during the current training year, 89,200 wanted to start in the coming year and 27,400 at an even later point in time.

Thus, a total of some 325,100 persons could potentially be unplaced applicants from previous years in the future. This is however an estimate. The question of whether these persons are actually visible in future as unplaced applicants from previous years will depend on whether they register with the Federal Employment Agency again. The majority of them probably will.

Unplaced applicants from previous years and "latent demand"

Only a small share of unplaced applicants from previous years who continue to be unsuccessful in their efforts to find a training place are - like applicants who have been unsuccessful for the first year - officially counted as demanders for a vocational training place. The reason: Only those applicants are considered unsuccessful demanders who did not opt for a tide-over measure or other alternative to initial vocational training.

In other words, individuals who started to job around, began attending a vocational preparation scheme or went back to school after not finding a training place are not counted as a training place demander even if they made intensive efforts to find a training place. In 2006, a total of 112,700 youths indicated that they opted for an alternative to in-company vocational training in 2006 because their applications had not met with success and that they had written at least 20 applications (so-called latent demand). This figure was 109,500 in 2004. The 2006 group included 61,000 applicants from previous years.

Conclusions

Rather than comprising a homogeneous group, unplaced applicants from previous years come from different groups with different chances of undergoing vocational training. They range from persons with poor school leaving certificates to applicants who were able to improve considerably their chances by completing introductory training all the way to individuals who had earned a higher-level school leaving certificate at a specialised secondary school and thus also have good prospects for the future. However unplaced applicants from previous years who first applied for a training place more than two years ago have particular difficulties. A large number of those whose efforts to find a training place fail for another year opt for an alternative outside the education system, start working at best, job around in a few cases or had no employment. Unplaced applicants from previous years rate these three latter options outside the education and training system (employment, jobbing around, no employment) negatively most frequently by far.

A statistical problem also exists in conjunction with unplaced applicants from previous years. In light of the fact that the number of training place demanders who are officially categorised as unsuccessful has averaged only some 42,000 persons during the last four years, the question arises: How has it been possible for the number of unplaced applicants from previous years to build up to several hundreds of thousands in the first place? These two figures do not add up. The answer lies in the fact that most unplaced applicants from previous years are not visible in official training market statistics: Once they decide to seek an alternative (return to school, a vocational preparation scheme, jobbing around, an internship) in response to not being able to find a training place they are considered 'provided for'. As a result, they are not counted as 'training place demanders' even when they continue to search intensively for a training place. The type of destination does not play a role here. Few youths abandon the wish to undergo in-company vocational training. The ones who do have usually started a school-based vocational training programme that leads to full vocational qualification. However most youths who job around or are undergoing training that will lead to only partial qualification still wish to be accepted for in-company vocational training.

A large number of training place seekers opt for an alternative (resumption of secondary schooling, attendance of a vocational preparation scheme, jobbing around, an internship) to an in-company training place. This figure was 348,000 in 2006, nearly one out of every two training place seekers who were registered with the Federal Employment Agency. Their official status as 'provided for' should not obscure the fact that many of them continue to be interested in an in-company training place. Having overhauled its placement system and switched from COMPAS to VerBIS software, the Federal Employment Agency can now provide important supplementary information for the official training market statistics in the future. From now on, it will be possible to break down the group of applicants who opt for an alternative into those who cancel their request for continued placement services from the Federal Employment Agency and those who do not.

At political level an assistance programme is being developed for youths who have not been successful in their search for a vocational training place for more a year and in the meantime have completed an optional pathway. This programme aims to improve the chances unplaced applicants from previous years have of finding a training place and prevent them from leaving the education or vocational training system. The objective is to see to it that these youths' efforts ultimately lead them to completing a course of vocational training that leads to full vocational qualification. Time will tell the extent to which this can be achieved. The chances for success are not bad: The positive trend in the employment sector is likely to provide a strong tailwind on the vocational training market as well.

Nevertheless: The number of unplaced applicants from previous years will never fall to zero, even under the most favourable market conditions. The reason: Youths who have already started vocational training but who have either dropped out or had to discontinue their programme (because they were fired) constitute a large share of these unplaced applicants. Even though a large portion of them will succeed in taking up vocational training once again, many will have particular difficulty finding a new training place. These youths are especially dependent on the placement services of the Federal Employment Agency.

  • 1

    Information regarding the training market statistics issued by the Federal Employment Agency is available in German at: www.bibb.de/de/wlk29602.htm

  • 2

    For more regarding the BA/BIBB Vocational Training Place Applicant Survey please see: Eberhard, Verena; Krewerth, Andreas; Ulrich, Joachim Gerd (Ed.): Mangelware Lehrstelle. Zur aktuellen Lage der Ausbildungsplatzbewerber in Deutschland. Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann, 2006, in particular p. 23 ff.

  • 3

    The year 2006 referred to here is the placement year used by the Federal Employment Agency (1 October 2005 to 30 September 2006).

  • 4

    Regarding the findings for 2004 see: Eberhard, Verena; Krewerth, Andreas; Ulrich, Joachim Gerd (Ed.): Mangelware Lehrstelle. ebd., in particular p. 69 ff., aad Ulrich, Joachim Gerd; Krekel, Elisabeth M.: Welche Ausbildungschancen haben "Altbewerber"? In: Berufsbildung in Wissenschaft und Praxis 36 (2007) 2, pp. 11-13.

  • 5

    The following variables were used to operationalize immigrant background: nationality, country of birth and native language. Only those applicants who were born in Germany, whose sole native language was German and who were German nationals were classified as Germans without an immigrant background. Cf. also: Eberhard, Verena; Krewerth, Andreas; Ulrich, Joachim Gerd (Ed.): Mangelware Lehrstelle. ebd., p. 197 ff.

Related literature

  • BA/ BIBB-Bewerberbefragungen:
  • Beicht, Ursula; Friedrich, Michael; Ulrich, Joachim Gerd
    Steiniger Weg in die Berufsausbildung - Werdegang von Jugendlichen nach Beendigung der allgemeinbildenden Schule
    In: Berufsbildung in Wissenschaft und Praxis 36. Heft 2, 2007,pp. 5-9; ISSN 0341 -4515
  • Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung [Federal Ministry of Education and Research]
    Berufsbildungsbericht 2007
  • Eberhard, Verena; Krewerth, Andreas
    Bewerbungsverhalten der Jugendlichen
    In: Eberhard, Verena; Krewerth, Andreas; Ulrich, Joachim Gerd [Hrsg.]: Mangelware Lehrstelle. Zur aktuellen Lage
    der Ausbildungsplatzbewerber in Deutschland. Bielefeld: W.
    Bertelsmann, 2006, ss. 83-98 (Berichte zur beruflichen Bildung; 279); ISBN 3-7639-1087-5
  • Ehrenthal, Bettina; Eberhard, Verena; Ulrich, Joachim Gerd
    Ausbildungsreife aus Sicht der Ausbilder und sonstiger Experten
    In: Ausbilder-Handbuch, Section. 3.1.11, pp. 1-35 (83rd supplement, March 2006); ISBN 3-87156-165-7
  • Friedrich, Michael
    Jugendliche in Ausbildung: Wunsch und Wirklichkeit
    In: Berufsbildung in Wissenschaft und Praxis 35, Issue 3, 2006, pp. 7-11; ISSN 0341-4515
  • Krewerth, Andreas; Eberhard, Verena
    Berufliche Mobilität der Ausbildungsstellenbewerber: Möglichkeiten ihrer empirischen Erfassung und Vergleich mit der regionalen Mobilität
    In: Eberhard, Verena; Krewerth, Andreas; Ulrich, Joachim Gerd [Ed.]: Mangelware Lehrstelle. Zur aktuellen Lage der Ausbildungsplatzbewerber in Deutschland. Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann, 2006, ss. 121-132 (Berichte zur beruflichen Bildung; 279); ISBN 3-7639-1087-5
  • Krewerth, Andreas; Eberhard, Verena
    Ursachen für den Verbleib aus Sicht der Jugendlichen
    In: Eberhard, Verena; Krewerth, Andreas; Ulrich, Joachim Gerd [Hrsg.]: Mangelware Lehrstelle. Zur aktuellen Lage der Ausbildungsplatzbewerber in Deutschland. Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann, 2006, pp. 151-160 (Berichte zur beruflichen Bildung; 279); ISBN 3-7639-1087-5
  • Troltsch, Klaus
    1,6 Millionen Jugendliche im Abseits? Strukturelle Ausbildungslosigkeit in Deutschland
    In: Berufsbildung in Wissenschaft und Praxis 35, Issue 3, 2006, pp. 44-46, ISSN 0341 -4515
  • Ulrich, Joachim Gerd
    Wie groß ist die "Lehrstellenlücke" wirklich?
    In: Berufsbildung in Wissenschaft und Praxis 35, Issue 3, 2006, pp. 12-16; ISSN 0341 -4515
  • Ulrich, Joachim Gerd; Krekel, Elisabeth M.
    Welche Ausbildungschancen haben "Altbewerber"?
    In: Berufsbildung in Wissenschaft und Praxis 36, Issue 2, 2007, pp. 11-13; ISSN 0341 -4515
  • Ulrich, Joachim Gerd
    Trendwende auf dem Ausbildungsmarkt? Die aktuelle Lage im Spiegel der Statistik
    In: Ausbilder-Handbuch, Section 3.1.12, pp. 1-26 (91st supplement, March 2007); ISBN 3-87156-165-7
BIBB REPORT
Volume 1, Issue 1, July 2007
ISSN Internet: 1869-2761
ISSN Print: 1865-0821

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Point of contact regarding content
Dr Elisabeth M. Krekel - krekel@bibb.de
Dr Joachim Gerd Ulrich - ulrich@bibb.de