Students study longer, join labor market later | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 14.03.2011
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Students study longer, join labor market later

Extended time studying has become a priority over immediately looking for a job for many students in Germany. Engineering programs have seen the largest increase in enrollment during this trend.

Students at a lecture

Students in Germany are studying longer

The German Federal Statistics Office has found that a significant percentage of young people are entering the labor market later than they did 10 years ago. Less than 37 percent of those aged 20 to 24 were employed in 2009, compared to 44 percent in 1999 for the same age group, the office reported on Monday.

Accounting for this shift is the fact that German students are studying longer, attending purely vocational institutions and enrolling in dual education programs at a later age. Almost half (48 percent) of 20 to 24-year-olds were enrolled in education or work training in 2009, compared to just over a third (37 percent) in 1999.

Those who did join the labor force in 2009 were more likely to be committed to fixed-term contracts than 10 years ago. This was partly the result of the economic crisis, which discouraged prudent German manufacturers from offering long-term contracts. Almost 25 percent of those aged 20 to 24 were employed under such terms, while 16 percent of 25- to 29-year-olds had fixed contracts. Those numbers were 17 and 10 percent, respectively, in 1999.

Encouraging news for German industry

students in an engineering lab

There is an increased interest in engineering

Businesses in Germany will be delighted that applications to engineering programs across German academic institutions have increased by just over 8 percent in the 2010 academic year compared to the previous year.

Germany has suffered from a severe shortage of engineers over the last half decade following a sharp decline in the profession's prestige since the environmental movement of the 1970s. The crisis reached a peak in 2006 when the Association of German Engineers declared a shortage of 36,000 engineers in the country.

Engineering programs received the highest increase in interest in a year that boasted a 5 percent overall increase in university applications.

Legal, economic and social science programs received the most applications, a trend that has continued throughout Germany over the past few years.

Young Germans are increasingly pursuing creative professions, as enrollment in arts, language and culture studies all saw an increase of 6 percent compared to 2009.

Mathematics and science programs remained popular, seeing an increase of just under 5 percent, while enrollment in health sciences and human medicine studies rose by 4 percent.

Author: Christian Nathler
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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