German Youths Fear Future Joblessness | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.08.2005
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German Youths Fear Future Joblessness

German teenagers, particularly those leaving school to go directly into the workforce, are preparing themselves for the worst. A new nationwide study shows that youths have a "considerable fear" of the future.


One of the lucky ones: German youths fear not having a job

The release of unemployment figures by the German Federal Labor Agency has become a monthly thorn in the side for the Gerhard Schröder's administration. The numbers are gloomy for those without a job. In July, unemployment stood at 4.77 million, or 11.5 percent.

The dark job picture is now also casting its shadow on the youth of Germany. According to a study conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation, over half of the teenagers asked said they were skeptical or downright pessimistic about their chances to find a job after graduating from school.

Jobparade vom DGB in Schwerin

The German Trade Union Federation is resorting to more exotic events, such as this job parade on May 1, to help youths find work

"Our study shows that teenagers in Germany -- particularly those in secondary schools ( Hauptschule) -- have a considerable fear of the future in light of the miserable job market and the chronic shortage of training positions," said foundation chairman Prof. Heribert Meffert in a statement.

Less education, greater anxiety

It's exactly those from secondary schools for those students not bound for university who feel that their chances of finding a job are poor. In the study, more than four of every five asked responded that those aiming for their secondary school degree be at a disadvantage when looking for an apprenticeship or employment.

Arbeitslosenzahl Logo der Agentur für Arbeit

The Federal Labor Agency logo

Meffert sees a great danger in the developments. High youth unemployment would be a threat to the nation's economy because those teenagers who fail to find a job after completing school are in danger of becoming part of Gernany's long-term unemployed. That's doubly dangerous: the state would have to pay them welfare benefits, plus they are not paying into the state's coffers for social benefits.

In addition, the increasing number of retirees means the creation of a gap of some three million skilled laborers, technicians and craftsmen by the year 2015.

The perceived fragile situation on the job market has created a sense of urgency amongst adolescents. Almost two-thirds of them say they are willing to invest more time for their professional futures -- and rightfully so.

Eighty-one percent answered that the highest hurdle in the landing of training position is a lack of such positions. Only 26 percent feel that their grades and performance at school are hindrance in finding work.

No time to panic

As autumn approaches, the number of those still without a training position stands at 246,400 with only 76,500 available. Last week, the German Trade Union Federation (DGB) accused employers of not keeping their word, namely that all youths could find a position. According to the DGB's Ingrid Sehrbock, the adolescents' situation is getting worse each day.

Arbeitslosenzahl Wolfgang Clement

Economics and Labor Minister Wolfgang Clement

Georg Braun, the president of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), did not dispute the lack of positions but points out that 205,000 more apprenticeship contracts have been signed in the first seven months this year than last.

German Labor Minister Wolfgang Clement (photo) said for all sides to not yet panic. The job training market is not very transparent. Many employers first register open apprenticeships with the local chamber of commerce, and then later with the Labor Agency, making it hard to judge just how many total number training positions are available.

It also varies extremely from region to region. In Munich, there is a surplus of apprenticeships. That contrasts with the dire situation in the eastern part of the country. On average, some 100 job-seekers are fighting for 37 apprenticeships in that economically depressed region. With the poor prospects there, the fears of many German youths may turn out to be all too real.

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