The German economy has chalked up few successes over the past six months, according to a new study by the Bertelsmann Foundation. The study also found the juvenile unemployment situation to be especially worrying.
The study says Germany needs to improve prospects for young people
In an international comparison, Germany comes off fairly well where joblessness among young people is concerned, even though more than half a million youths are registered as unemployed. But that is no reason to let it off the hook, according to the Bertelsmann Foundation, which seeks to assist in solving social problems.
"Juvenile unemployment is becoming more and more firmly established," said the foundation's Thorsten Hellmann. "Although Germany is in eighth place among the 21 major industrialized nations that we compared, some of the other countries have managed to make considerable progress in reducing youth unemployment, whereas here, the jobless rate remains constant at around 10.5 percent."
The report is particularly critical of the lack of flexibility on the German job market, citing as an example the general practice in sectors like the building industry that are highly dependent on the weather. It said it would make more sense to let apprentices complete their vocational schooling in the winter rather than interrupt their practical training in the summer, when the weather is more stable.
Praise for apprentice system
On the whole, the Bertelsmann study praised Germany's training system, which involves theory and practice, but said it is in need of modernization.
"Our dual training scheme is still a success," said Hellmann. "It has also been taken over by other countries, but it's getting a bit long in the tooth. We have to be more flexible and offer greater incentives to companies to employ more young people."
In other words, apprentices are paid too much in relation to the general economic development in Germany.
Checking the job postings
Hellmann praised steps the German government has taken to boost people's incentives to work. The controversial welfare reforms known as Hartz IV came into force in January, cutting benefits for those unwilling to work. The reforms are also intended to speed up job-hunting for others.
"Hartz IV was definitely a step in the right direction, but now we need jobs that will remain competitive in the long term," Hellmann said. "We have to improve the basic conditions so that these jobs can be created."