Union: Older Workers Lack Training Opportunities in Germany | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 04.08.2008
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Union: Older Workers Lack Training Opportunities in Germany

A German trade union umbrella group has criticized the lack of training opportunities for workers age 45 and older, saying Germany trails other nations in bringing older workers up to date.

A row of men in shirts and ties

Not every boss thinks training on the job is important

The Confederation of German Trade Unions, or DGB, has criticized the lack of training opportunities for workers over the age of 45, and deplored a drop in the percentage of people getting trained overall, from 30 to 26 percent.

“Many companies still see job training as a cost factor and not as an investment,” DGB Vice President Ingrid Sehrbrock told the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper.

"Unacceptable" situation

Germany trails the field in international comparisons of job training, Sehrbrock said.

Students at computers in a training center

Unions advocate trading overtime for training

"It is still the case that those who are already well qualified are the ones who get offered the training opportunities first,” Sehrbrock said. And people over age 45 are encouraged less than the younger workers are, she added.

Giving the country's aging demographics, this situation is “unacceptable,” Sehrbrock said.

Meanwhile a DGB poll showed that job training is an important topic, with 70 percent of respondents saying that lifelong learning is important to them. Some 68 percent of workers complained their companies offered them few, if any, training opportunities. And 55 percent said further education does not play an important role for their superiors.

Plan promotes "learning accounts"

In response, the DGB is calling for a “second chance for adults” program that would include increased federal loans for workers interested in further job training.

Specifically, the DGB is promoting the idea of “learning accounts,” where workers can bank vacation days or overtime toward paying for further qualifications. Sehrbrock hopes the government would grant small and mid-size companies financial aid and advice in support of the measures.

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