Germany's increasing educational poverty is threatening to erode the country's competitive advantage on the international stage, a study shows.
Insufficiently trained young people are unlikely to find a job
Germany is facing a serious human resources problem because of the rising number of insufficiently trained young people, officials with the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) said on Monday.
According to the results of a study carried out by the Cologne Institute for Business Research, 8.3 percent of German students dropped out of general education high schools without getting a diploma in 2004. In the same year, 23 percent of students attending vocational training schools did not complete their course of study.
With the lowest birth rates in Europe, Germany is already facing the prospect of a shrinking population -- a highly unfavorable trend for the country's attempts to conduct a massive economic overhaul while remaining competitive on the international market.
"The fewer of us there are, the better we must be," said Martin Wansleben, CEO of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
"Germany is a high-wage country. If we want to remain well-to-do, we cannot afford education poverty."
A bleak picture
Education is important for the country's technological competitiveness
The study -- entitled "Educational Poverty and Weakness of Human Resources" -- has shown that the new generations of young people in Germany are no longer generally better educated than their predecessors, and that the number of untrained people is no longer going down, but stagnating at a high level.
The number of young people who -- because of insufficient educational credentials -- found themselves attending vocational prep courses doubled over the past ten years to 160,000.
Experts fear that in the near future, the number of trained Germans entering the job market will not be high enough to replace those going into retirement.
Blame it on the system
Children from immigrant families are particularly disadvantaged
Several studies -- including the highly respected PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) study -- have demonstrated that general schools for all pupils are better at raising educational standards than a system that "sorts" children at an early age according to their abilities.
German schools, however, are divided into three categories -- college-prep high schools, secondary schools and vocational schools -- each tailored to specific educational abilities and skills.
In their current setup, German schools are thought to be ill-equipped to deal with socio-economic and cultural problems facing children from disadvantaged families. Immigrant children tend to be directed to schools with lower performance expectations and dominated by disadvantaged student population.
The German Economic Institute recommended better teacher training and expansion of all-day schools, better support for students with a weaker socio-economic background as well as better language support for students from immigrant families.