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German industry leaders worried about lack of suitable apprentices

A leading German business organization has said companies across Europe's powerhouse are getting increasingly worried about a lack of apprentices on the market. It argued suitable candidates were hard to find.

The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) said Thursday it was getting harder for firms to find suitable apprentices.

It said there were many reasons for the current plight of some 80,000 offered apprenticeships remaining vacant. For one, more people are staying in school rather than dropping out. And a number of people are going on to university.

"While it has never been so easy for young people to secure an apprenticeship, German companies are experiencing more and more

difficulties in finding applicants

," DIHK President Eric Schweitzer said in a statement in Berlin.

Goodies for apprentices

The association noted that 507,000 young people started their university studies in 2013, 33 percent more than a decade ago.

For that reason, DIHK officials have launched a social media campaign directed specifically at university dropouts who it says are of particular interest to companies in the IT, banking and insurance sectors.

In order to secure more apprentices in their fields, some companies have offered applicants business cars or free smartphones, a DIHK poll of 13,000 companies revealed.

hg/cjc (Reuters, dpa)