After all, 73 per cent of trainees are happy with their vocational training, as proven by the azubi.report 2018, a study on the situation regarding trainees in Germany. 3,767 trainees and 100 HR staff were questioned for the study.
And yet recruiters in many companies are already looking ahead anxiously to August 2019. Although the current year of vocational training has just begun, it’s already foreseeable that they will once again be left with empty training places next year as well. What’s the problem with the German vocational training market? Are prospective trainees becoming increasingly demanding? Are businesses setting their expectations too high?
1. Grades are a hurdle: 35% of the staff think that good grades are important. 46% of the trainees state that the grades specified as a requirement in the job specification are too high. 39% of the staff reject applications if the candidate’s school-leaving qualifications don’t meet their expectations.
2. Quantity over quality: 95% of the staff say that the quality of applications is insufficient.
3. Wrong methods: 58% of applicants learn how to apply by post in school. Yet 97% of the staff favour online applications (via the careers website or by email).
4. Lacking self-reflection: 73% of all businesses don’t alter their job adverts if they have trouble finding suitable applicants.
5. No patience: 34% of applicants quit the process if they are left waiting too long for a response.
6. Perseverance required: every trainee has completed an average of 21 applications.
7. Limited flexibility: 43% of applicants cannot or don’t want to relocate in order to take up vocational training.
8. No money: only 33% can pay for all their living costs with their vocational training wages, the remaining two thirds are dependent on the support of their family or the state.
Instead of a passion for learning and teaching, there is often frustration. The Training Report recently published by the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB) draws similar conclusions: trainees are unhappier than ever. Every fourth person quits their training course.
Joachim ‘Jo’ Diercks runs one of the most successful German HR blogs and is an expert in the field of recrutainment. He doesn’t believe that there’s ‘a culprit’. In his view, one of the factors in the training dilemma is the image problem faced by dual studies programmes. Jo: “For years it was preached, with reference to the OECD figures, that you could only get anywhere by studying for a degree. But in this case we shouldn’t compare apples to pears.” So, he says, someone who works as a plumber in Scotland often has a bachelor’s degree, whereas in Germany they have vocational training. “In the statistics, Scotland therefore has a higher ratio of graduates, but whether they therefore have better plumbers, I’m inclined to doubt. Companies that offer training can often only resist this trend by turning their vocational training schemes into dual studies programmes.”
Just be straight with people!
But there are still other reasons why businesses and applicants often only find each other with difficulty – if at all. “Choosing a vocation is a Herculean task,” says Jo. “In the knowledge that they ‘can be anything’, young people are encountering a huge choice of job descriptions, training methods and companies. This diverse range of options can quickly turn into a task that’s no longer manageable: What do I really want? What suits me? Who’s offering that? Where can I find that? Questions like these are tremendously difficult to answer. This then often results in a career choice which once again falls back on stereotypes. We need many more and greatly improved tools for choosing careers.”
His advice to companies searching for trainees is therefore simple: “Make your expectations clearer!” The buzzword: transparency. Companies should share their job descriptions, working environments, substance and culture, and make them come alive. The expert is calling upon HR staff to “just be straight with people!” “That’s the only way that someone can visualise a company from the outside. There are so many options. And only when they’ve all been used up can we really talk about a ‘lack of specialists’ or a ‘lack of trainees’.”
(Joachim Diercks is a guest at OTTO’s Future Evening on 17th September)