Today, the partners working with the Alliance for Initial and Further Training agreed measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on dual vocational training. Under the chairmanship of , representatives of the Federal Government, the Federal Employment Agency, the Länder, the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA), the Federal Association of Liberal Professions (BFB), the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the trade unions adopted a joint declaration on behalf of the Alliance for Initial and Further Training. The partners want to ensure that apprentices can continue their training and take their exams despite the current difficult circumstances. They have also made it their shared goal to be able to continue to offer a sufficient number of vocational training places.
Said Federal Minister Altmaier: “In this crisis, a reliable framework for dual vocational training is of the essence if we are to continue to guarantee a secure supply of skilled labour for the future. At this time especially, companies need our support to be able to continue to provide good-quality training. We are offering a premium for companies that take over apprentices formerly employed by companies that have now filed for insolvency, and by doing so, we are making an important contribution to ensuring that young people can successfully finish their vocational training in the COVID-19 crisis.”
Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Hubertus Heil said: “Dual vocational training is a hallmark of our country and our ticket into a future in which our economy continues to be successful. This is why we need to keep it running, especially in times that are difficult. It is important to me that, in line with the usual pattern, young people will also be able to begin or finish vocational training in 2020. This is why we agreed today to introduce a number of different support measures. We are fighting not only for every job, but also for every vocational training place.
Said Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek: “The strengths of dual vocational training are especially apparent in a crisis. Dual vocational training is the basis of our economic success. If we want to retain this, we are well advised to invest in the capacities of our dual vocational training system. The measures agreed today within the Alliance for Initial and Further Training will help young people find a vocational training place in these difficult times. Once again, we are seeing the benefits of close cooperation between all stakeholders, especially the social partners, in Germany. Together, we will ensure that apprentices can successfully finish their training, even if their exams have been suspended or postponed. We are also launching an immediate programme within the Digital Pact for Schools so that we can invest in digital teaching and digital devices. Vocational schools will also benefit from this programme, so that learning can continue even as the restrictions due to the COVID-19 crisis continue to apply.”
State Minister for Integration Annette Widmann-Mauz commented: “Among those hit especially hard by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are people with a background of immigration and refugees. Many of them are employed in the hospitality sector or are still in training. We must do all we can to ensure that the success that has been achieved in terms of their integration into the job market is not lost. Integration into training and the job market will therefore be a priority in the Federal Government’s National Action Plan for Integration.”
The president of the conference of Ministers for Education and Minister for Education in the State of Rhineland-Palatinate, Dr Stefanie Hubig, said: “Vocational training and vocational schools provide for career prospects for young people, make an important contribution to fair access to education, and are essential the competiveness of German companies. The strict hygiene concepts developed by these institutions so that they can continue to provide training in these difficult circumstances once again demonstrate just how capable and adaptable they are. It is important that apprentices can now continue on the path that they have chosen. The Länder will be working with the vocational schools to do their bit to ensure that apprentices do not suffer any disadvantages because of the coronavirus epidemic.”
Said the CEO of the The chairman of the Federal Employment Agency, Detlef Scheele: “Our joint goal must be to prevent a “COVID-19 vocational training year”. The Federal Employment Agency is offering advice and reliable support services to do its part to ensure that companies and applicants can be matched even at this time of uncertainty. This is why, this year, we are placing an even stronger focus on digital services for pupils and students, including our online self-exploration tool “Check U”. We have also started to contact companies offering vocational training more, and support them in providing and stabilising vocational training places. We also have our employment policy tools ready for both young people and companies. The capacity is there.”
Dr Eric Schweitzer, President of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), said: “Today, we are agreeing on initial measures intended to help protect existing vocational training agreements and provide the basis for new ones. We will closely monitor the vocational training market and lend targeted support to companies in regions, industries, and size categories that are no longer able to provide vocational training without external support. For lower-achieving applicants, in particular, it will be important to be able to start introductory training this year, so that they can quickly be placed in a company and move on to vocational training as swiftly as possible. The chambers and associations, for instance, will try out virtual ‘speed dating’ between companies and applicants, the chambers will expand their online platforms where companies can advertise their vocational training places, and they will work hard to ensure that final exams can be take place even in these difficult circumstances.”
Elke Hannack, deputy chairperson of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), said: “Today, the Alliance is opening the protective shield for vocational training. All the measures that we are launching today are sending a strong signal: we are fighting for every single vocational training place. A premium for companies retaining their former apprentices as regular workers, vocational training offered in cooperation and on demand for others, and – as a last resort – vocational training outside companies will help protect the career prospects of the young generation. Our message to our young people is: we need you. Apply for vocational training places, contact companies, search in the many databases online and make use of the advice services available. To the companies, we are saying: Provide vocational training, look for new apprentices, so that the COVID-19 crisis won’t be followed by a crisis caused by a lack of skilled professionals.”
In more specific terms, the partners in the Alliance have agreed, for instance, that firms taking over apprentices from companies that have filed for insolvency can claim a temporary premium for doing so. Furthermore, companies are to have better access to the benefits of arrangements in which they can offer training in cooperation with others. This is to stabilise the number of vocational training places available in 2020/2021. The partners of the Alliance also agreed to provide even more targeted advice and matching services for young people and companies this year – including more online services.
The partners of the Alliance will continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic into the medium and long terms and take any additional measures to stabilise the vocational training market if needed.