Press release

Dual system faces major challenges

Development on the training market in 2014

54/2014 | Bonn, 12.12.2014

Dual system faces major challenges

Initial results of the analyses carried out by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) on the basis of the BIBB survey of newly concluded training contracts as of 30 September and the Training Market Statistics of the Federal Employment Agency show that, whilst the trend towards higher education continues unabated as some 500,000 students commenced such a course of study, the number of newly concluded training contracts fell once more in 2014. The total of 522,200 new contracts was around 7,300 lower than in the previous year (-1.4%). This means that there has been a fundamental shift in the ratios of vocational and academic education within the past 15 years.

The main cause of the repeated fall in the number of training contracts is the strong decrease in the number of general school leavers not in possession of a higher education entrance qualification. This group makes up three quarters of all trainees and, according to information provided by the Federal Statistical Office, dwindled in size from 714,800 in 2004 to 551,300 in 2014. The fall in the number of young people as a result of demographic development is crucial, and this is why companies are no longer able to find apprentices to fill their training places.

According to the Federal Employment Agency, 37,100 registered company-based training places remained vacant in 2014. This represents an increase of 3,400 compared to the previous year (+ 10%).

Although dual vocational education and training is considered to be a bedrock of Germany’s economic performance power, it is an educational sector that is increasingly coming under pressure. Over the course of the next ten years, the number of school leavers who have achieved no qualification higher than the intermediate secondary school leaving certificate will fall by a further 101,700 to only 449,600.

Nevertheless, there are areas of potential that remain untapped in terms of attracting more young people into dual VET. Despite the increasing problems being experienced by companies as they seek to recruit new apprentices, there are around 81,200 registered applicants who were still searching for a training place as of the cut-off date of 30 September. This represents a decrease of 2,400 compared to the previous year. The figure of 81,200 comprises 20,900 unplaced applicants who have not progressed to alternative provision and 60,300 applicants who have adopted bridging solutions or entered other options to training such as a return to school, an internship, a vocational preparation measure, casual employment or higher education.

Branch-related or occupationally specific matching problems are one of the causes of the lack of success of these training place applicants. This means that company training place provision and the occupational wishes of the young people are increasingly failing to coincide. Whereas many companies have difficulty in recruiting trainees for occupations such as restaurant specialist, salesperson specialising in foodstuffs, tinsmith, butcher, baker or cook, there is a strong overspill in occupations such as visual marketing designer, designer of digital and print media, sports and fitness administrator, event manager and office management clerk. The consequence of this is that, having failed to secure a training place in these occupations, many young people do not then turn to the occupations in which there are vacancies.

Another cause of the lack of success of the training place applicants is, however, the fact that training provision is still significantly too low in some regions. Indeed, there are considerable variances at a local level in the number of training places on offer. In many Employment Agency districts in Bavaria, Brandenburg and Thuringia and in some regions of Baden-Württemberg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt there are, for example, significantly more than 100 training places on offer for every 100 persons seeking a training place. In other regions, including Recklinghausen, Oberhausen, Hameln and Gelsenkirchen, the number of training places per 100 interested parties does not even reach 80.

A differentiated analysis of the development of the training market in 2014 is available on the BIBB website at www.bibb.de/ausbildungsmarkt2014. Statistics and tables are presented at

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