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Europe

German Press Review: Tough Times for Trainees

The editorial pages of Germany’s dailies focused on domestic economic issues, trainee positions, taxes and unemployment, on Friday.

Many of Germany's young people aren't getting job training, and that’s a trend that isn’t likely to change by the end of the year, according to reports released on Thursday by two major German industrial organizations.

Meanwhile, the ruling government coalition of Social Democrats and Greens said months ago it wants to force businesses to offer apprenticeships. If certain companies don't move voluntarily to offer apprenticeships by the end of the year, the government has said it will pass legislation that could lead to stiff penalties for those companies that don’t.

The leftist Neues Deutschland newspaper in Berlin wrote that it hopes government will move ahead with penalties soon. "Instead of calling businesses to task, the government has demanded, begged, pandered, attacked and retreated. It’s even made would-be trainees pay higher social contributions." The paper then quipped, sarcastically, "Sure, it's the young people's fault, when they send out 150 applications and get back 150 rejections and then have to go to the unemployment office rather than a job."

The Frankfurter Rundschau also put its weight behind the idea of imposing fines, which the editors described as an "A+" plan. "If businesses don't voluntarily offer training, the only thing that's going to help is legal pressure," the paper concluded.

But the Berliner Zeitung in the nation’s capital gave the plan two thumbs down. "Sure, the fines might catch a few businesses who are ignoring their duties," the editors wrote. "But in most cases, employers want to offer training but can't afford it. Forcing them isn't going to change that." In the eastern part of Germany, where unemployment is highest, the paper noted, there aren't enough companies to offer training for everyone. "The fines will just create a bureaucratic monster and burden the economy more," the paper argued.

Meanwhile, the Düsseldorf-based Westdeutsche Zeitung pointed the serious nature of the situation. "Between offerings and demand, there are 24,000 missing trainee spots. That's in a country where only 30 percent of over 2 million businesses are offering training," it’s editors opined.

The Mannheimer Morgen newspaper offered its own formula for lowering unemployment. "Drop the income tax and encourage growth. Then new jobs will appear," the paper concluded.

The Deister- und Weserzeitung, based in Hameln, commented that Germans must not be burdened by high taxes. "With more money in their pocketbooks," the paper’s editors wrote, "they'll have more desire to consume. That's how you bring confidence and positive thinking into the New Year. The red-greens need the courage to take that kind of step."