Leveraging the potential of skilled workers to benefit Germany: the Federal Employment Agency and German Rectors’ Conference emphasize the joint responsibility of the educational sectors

The current significant shortage of skilled workers in Germany can only be countered effectively with both the correct policy measures and cooperation between the differing educational sectors. Such was the outlook shared by Andrea Nahles, Chair of the Executive Board of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), and Professor Peter-André Alt, President of the Conference of University Rectors (HRK) at their meeting in Berlin last Tuesday.

07 Mar 2023 | Press release no.13

The shortage of skilled workers and its consequences can be seen in all occupational fields, such as the engineering industry, climate control, childcare and the teaching profession. The lack of qualified workers means that those responsible are faced with task of enabling as many people as possible to benefit from training and education and realising their potential. Both the BA and HRK take the view that the specific educational path a person takes isn’t so important. What is important, however, is that all paths are recognised, and that changing from one area of education or training to another receives good support.

“Vocational and academic forms of education are different in terms of their goals and requirements, but of equal importance for the economy and society in Germany,” explained the President of the HRK, Alt. “For the future, it will therefore be even more important to prevent people from dropping out of the world of training and education – including higher education. This is an area in which the universities and their advisory structures have been active for a long time, with a variety of measures. And their successes demonstrate that their hard work has been worthwhile. This also means, however, that it is important for universities to focus on those people who would like to move from one area of education or training to another together with local partners, such as the local federal employment agencies, chambers of commerce and handicraft businesses. There are also excellent examples of cooperation across Germany for the provision of targeted support to people wanting to change their specialist field.”

The increasing number of people who are currently neither at school, in vocational training, in higher education nor in work is also a cause of great concern to the BA and the HRK. Chair of the BA, Nahles: “In 2021, approximately 630,000 people in the 15-24 age group were neither in education nor work, which means that these people are at risk of being permanently lost to both areas. As a society, we cannot and must not shrug our shoulders at this and look away. It is up to all the organisations that provide advice, training and education to demonstrate the opportunities available in the wide-ranging and high-quality German education and training system by providing open and proactive advice.” The discussion partners were also in agreement about the particularly important role played by schools. Nahles continued: “Helping young people to make good career choices is of key importance. And that help goes beyond basic career orientation.” From the perspective of the HRK and the BA, it is important for the federal states and the school boards to take a close look at this issue. Otherwise, there is a long-term risk of the loss of skilled workers – as well as negative consequences at the level of both the individual and society as a whole.