The German government has signaled its willingness to forgo a controversial new law under which companies that do not offer enough apprenticeships would be forced to pay into a nationwide traineeship fund. The law already passed the Bundestag lower house in May and would be up for a second vote in the upper house, the Bundesrat on Friday. But Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats have now said they prefer a so-called training pact with industry rather than push for the law to be implemented. Though industry leaders have welcomed the government's change of heart, it has been severely criticized by leftist Social Democrats and trade unions. Germany has a strong tradition of on-the-job training and work experience for young people. But the system has crumbled in recent years as a result of Germany’s economic downturn and falling standards of school education.