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Business

Germany's Youth Face Grim Future After Graduation

Recently-released statistics paint a grim picture of the economic future of Germany's youth and have sent Chancellor Gerhard Schröder rushing to remedy the situation before elections.

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No apprenticeship, no future?

The effects of Germany's economic slump have wound their way down to the country's youth.

In what is seen as another damaging blow to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's re-election hopes on September 22, the Federal Labor Office released statistics showing a major drop in the amount of apprenticeships available to secondary school graduates.

There are 10,000 fewer positions available compared to last year, according to the labor office. Employment offices have also registered a 6.4 percent drop in the amount of jobs they set up.

The numbers present the second statistical blow to Germany's youth in the past year. In 2001, the OECD-sponsored PISA education study ranked Germany a disappointing 25 out of 32 countries. The results were shocking for a country that had always taken pride in its superior educational system.

Empty hope for German youth

With thousands of German youngsters facing an uncertain future, Schröder has weighed in, firing off a letter to German industry leaders reminding them of their duty to provide apprenticeship-opportunities for the country's low-skilled youth.

"Those that demand the immigration of highly-skilled workers, need to also be ready to do everything possible to offer the people here all possible apprenticeship and training opportunities," he wrote to the Association of German Industry and Chambers of Commerce.

The chancellor was backed up in his argument by Germany's biggest unions, who reminded industry leaders that they had a duty to provide employment opportunities for Germany's youth.

Training a vital step to secure future

German teenagers typically apply for vocational training between the ages of 15 and 19, following graduation from their secondary school. The training, which usually lasts a few years, is considered a vital step in securing a job in their field for the long-term.

Schröder's government has managed to keep the number of training positions fairly steady in the past two years. Drops in positions in craft-related-fields like carpentry were typically offset by yearly gains in the amount of positions available in the industrial and commercial sector.

But those numbers have fallen this year as well.

Industry: youth not qualified enough

Industry leaders say PISA has reared its ugly head in applications for training positions.

The head of the industry association, Ludwig Georg Braun, said the education level of many graduates is "poor."

"Many graduates can't fill complicated positions," Braun wrote in a reply to Schröder's open letter.

Still, Braun promised that industry would do more to create apprenticeships in the coming months.

"Even in economically difficult times," Braun wrote. "We need to keep the future of our youth in view."