Companies must explore new horizons for trainee recruitment

The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training expects fewer than 500,000 new training contracts for 2020 – this would be 25,000 less than the previous year. The federal government's stimulus package is only of limited help as it remains difficult to find new trainees. Traditional recruitment methods such as trainee fairs and presentations in schools have been cancelled.

In a scenario analysis The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) has calculated how much the training system has suffered as a result of the coronavirus crisis. It can be assumed that the better qualified young people in particular are now less interested in training because they are searching for alternatives. More young people disregarding training means fewer training contracts are created and the more likely it is that companies will face problems filling vacancies.

Significant fall in the number of new training contracts

With a seven per cent fall in economic growth and a simultaneous fall in potential demand, BIBB experts predict that the number of new contracts concluded could fall to as few as 460,000. In the case of an economic downturn of ten percent or more, the number of new contracts concluded is likely to be below 460,000. By comparison, the number of newly concluded training contracts in 2019 was 525,100 - with 578,220 training positions being offered.

Stimulus package provides bonuses for new training contracts

In order to prevent the sharp fall in training contracts and to avoid companies not having the junior staff they urgently need in three years' time, the stimulus package passed by the federal government on 16 June also includes bonuses for training companies: Small and medium-sized companies who maintain their training offer at a constant level in 2020 compared to previous years are to receive a bonus of €2,000 for each new training contract. Companies offering even more training positions will receive that bonus of €3,000 for each additional contract. The bonuses will be paid at the end of a probationary period.

Further bonuses are provided to companies taking on additional trainees from insolvent businesses. There is also support for training companies who do not put their trainees on reduced working hours or who provide training on behalf of other companies.

Five tips for digital trainee recruitment

But how can companies recruit new trainees in the short term when arrangements already made are being cancelled, and if the usual recruitment methods such as trainee fairs, company placements or open days cannot take place by the start of training on 1 August or 1 September 2020? Assistance is being provided by "Autoberufe", an initiative organised by car manufacturers, international vehicle manufacturers, Robert Bosch GmbH, and the German Motor Vehicle Trade Federation, which has produced a guide to digital trainee recruitment.

Communicate clearly that you are also looking for trainees this year. This can be done via a "We're training" subtitle on the website and via social media. Using effective tagging means that this information will be easier to find via the popular search engines.

Provide guidance regarding the training content and process, and provide information about the application arrangements. Young people are very uncertain at the moment as regards searching and applying for training. Careers guidance teaching and placements have not been taking place for weeks. There is no contact with teachers and advisors. In your job advertisement on the website, always specify a contact partner for questions.

Prepare a digital selection test which enquires about the criteria important to you. This test can be sent to selected applicants. Applicants participate via a link.

Look to digital events such as virtual careers fairs for publicising your training offer. Presentations in schools, company visits and open days can be done via video conferences. Placements can be carried out under certain conditions (hygiene and distancing rules, on an hourly or daily basis). 

Treat the young people as equals. Applicants are not expecting any teenage slang. They want to be taken seriously in their career search and are expecting reliable information on vocational education and training and on the training company. This is best delivered by one of your company trainees, for example in a video.

Source: (German publishing house on mainly technical topics), revised by iMOVE, November 2020