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Featured Kurt Volkhart Samurai Jens Larsen Lichtfalle Jens Spahn Hubertus Heil

Migrants fill the trainee gap – while the number of students is growing

Germany's training market is in crisis.

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Migrants fill the trainee gap – while the number of students is growing

Germany's training market is in crisis. Never before have so many companies had problems finding trainees. At the start of the current training year, around 182,000 training positions were unfilled. That is 20 percent more than in the same month last year.

Without foreign trainees, the gap would be much larger. In contrast to the overall downward trend, their number remains high. The number of new trainees without German citizenship rose from almost 30,000 in 2008 to more than 51,000 in 2021, as a new survey by the German Economic Institute (IW) shows.

At the same time, the number of trainees with German nationality fell sharply, shrinking by almost 160,000 between 2008 and 2021. According to the IW, this development is simply related to the increasing proportion of migrants in Germany. "The target group is also very heterogeneous," says IW economist Sarah Pierenkemper. "Some of them fled themselves, speak poor German and only attended school in this country for a few years, others have lived in Germany for a long time and are firmly rooted."

Overall, young migrants more often than Germans do not have a general education qualification and are more affected by unemployment. "If you want to reach young people with a migration background, it is worth addressing them where they prefer to be - for example in clubs, youth centers or migrant self-organizations," says Pierenkemper. In addition, parents should be more involved in the career choice process.

The development on the training market is faced with an increasing number of students. The proportion of school leavers who decide to go to university has risen steadily over the past few years.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the total number of students at German universities in the 2021/2022 winter semester was 2,947,500. This corresponds to a minimal increase of 0.1 percent. The number of employees at universities and university hospitals is also increasing. At the end of 2021, 781,200 people were employed there; 2.9 percent more than at the end of 2020.

The development of the past 14 years, as a result of which the numbers have increased continuously and noticeably since the winter semester of 2007 (1,941,763 students), has slowed down for the time being. This has to do with the slightly falling number of first-year students, which has fallen for the fourth time in a row. The previous high was recorded in 2011 with 518,700 first-year students.

This downward trend has both demographic and pandemic-related causes. The population group of 17 to 22-year-olds, from which around three-quarters of all first-year students come, has decreased by 5 percent.

On the other hand, the number of foreigners has fallen sharply as a result of the entry restrictions during the pandemic: in 2020 their number had fallen by almost a quarter compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, the looming recession is slowing down the booming job market. This is the result of a new forecast by the Institute for Labor Market and Occupational Research (IAB). "The labor market is being adversely affected by the economic setbacks, but given the high demand for labour, we do not expect a slump," says IAB economist Enzo Weber. According to the IAB forecast, the number of people in employment will be 560,000 higher on average in 2022 than in the previous year.

The general shortage of workers is also likely to increase the number of people in work. Weber expects an increase of 220,000 people. As a result, the number of unemployed will fall: this year by 200,000 people. However, the turnaround is likely to follow in 2023.

The number of unemployed will increase by 60,000 in 2023, mainly due to the registration of Ukrainian refugees with basic security. The IAB expects the number of employees subject to social security contributions to increase from 610,000 to 34.51 million people.

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