"Skilled trades offer training opportunities for all school leavers"
The skilled trades in North Rhine-Westphalia dispute the findings of a study identifying a deterioration in company-based training provision in the skilled trades for lower and intermediate-level secondary school leavers.
The skilled trades in North Rhine-Westphalia firmly dispute the findings of the study suggesting a deterioration in company-based training provision in the skilled trades for lower and intermediate-level secondary school leavers. A recent study by the Research Institute for the Economics of Education and Social Affairs described the training opportunities for young people achieving a maximum of an intermediate school-leaving qualification as diminished.
Andreas Ehlert, President of Handwerk.NRW (an association representing the common interests of the skilled trades in North Rhine-Westphalia) explained how, on the contrary, the skilled trades had intensified their search for new recruits and further increased their efforts in view of the heightened shortage of skilled workers. "There is currently a huge demand in the skilled trades for people willing to train with any kind of prior qualification," he emphasized.
All school leavers are welcome in the skilled trades
Ehlert is actually delighted about the growing number of school leavers with the higher education entrance qualification among trainees in the skilled trades. However, school leavers looking to start out in the world of work following 10th grade at a lower level or intermediate-level secondary school, or a comprehensive secondary school, are also "welcome in the skilled trades". While the fact that more young people with higher-level qualifications are also seeking a career opportunity in the skilled trades is good and necessary, it's also inevitable from an empirical perspective, he adds.
"School leavers with the higher education entry qualification are by far the largest cohort on the demand side of the vocational training markets," explains Ehlert. He adds that this also affects those unsure about studying who opt for company-based training after completing a few semesters at a university.
No deterioration in training opportunities
The growth in apprentices with a higher-level school leaving certificate "certainly doesn't mean, in turn, that school leavers without the higher education entrance qualification are discovering their training opportunities in the skilled trades have worsened". Ehlert: "We are pleased about each individual applicant regardless of their educational background. The following still applies in the skilled trades: it doesn't matter where you come from, it's where you want to go."
It is wrong, he adds, if success in education and training policy is determined by the proportion of school leavers with the higher education entrance qualification. For decades, North Rhine-Westphalia has been happy to allow education spending levels which are too low, student-teacher ratios which are too high, too many lessons being cancelled and excessive skill shortages among school leavers, and it has also undervalued the career options in vocational education and training, underlines Ehlert. "We need to see a substantial quality offensive in school-based and vocational education and training, but no inflation of qualifications."
Source: handwerksblatt.de (magazine of the German skilled crafts sector), revised by iMOVE, December 2022