After severe setbacks caused by the Corona pandemic, slightly more young people started in-company training again in 2022. This is the result of the government's new vocational education and training report. However, this was not yet a normalization. And now there are already signs of new setbacks for this year – in the liberal professions, of all places, such as medical practices, law firms and architectural firms. These had done better than other areas during the pandemic.

By the end of March, a total of 11,187 training contracts for the new apprenticeship year had been registered with the Chambers of the Liberal Professions. This is 5 percent less than in the previous year, as a recent evaluation by the Federal Association of Liberal Professions (BFB) shows. It is available to the F.A.Z. "This means that the shortage of skilled workers on the training market is widening further," says BFB President Friedemann Schmidt. The lack of suitable applicants is also becoming "more and more noticeable" for the liberal professions.

In fact, there is little to suggest a shortage of new places. Schmidt expects supply to continue to rise. After all, the liberal professions are urgently needed for the so-called transformation tasks, whether energy transition, housing construction or the supply of the aging population.

69,000 apprenticeship places unfilled

In the Corona years, the total number of newly concluded training contracts in Germany had fallen from more than 520,000 to 467,000 and has recovered to 475,000 by last year, according to the vocational training report presented to the cabinet by Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) on Wednesday. In the liberal professions, however, the number of trainees had remained almost stable.

A similar effect has already been seen in the skilled trades: In the Corona years, the number of new trainees had also developed more favourably there than in the large sectors of industry and trade - but in 2022 this was reversed. While 2.7 percent more new contracts were concluded at Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK), there were suddenly 2.2 percent fewer in the skilled trades. Perhaps it was because IHK industries such as hospitality and parts of the retail sector were hit hardest by the pandemic. Those who would normally have looked for an apprenticeship there looked around more in the other areas. Now this effect is over.

As the report shows, 2022,69 training places remained unfilled across all sectors in 000; almost the same number is predicted for this year. However, this is only the part of the vacancies that companies had reported to the employment agencies. The Institute for Employment Research (IAB) determined that 28 percent of all training places on offer remain vacant. That would be more than 150,000.

The government now wants to guide more young people into training with new support programmes, if necessary also by setting up new external apprenticeships. In fact, despite the many vacancies, the number of younger people who have not completed an apprenticeship is also growing. The Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) called this a "scandal" on Wednesday. According to the Vocational Education and Training Report, this is also due to the fact that many young people have just arrived as a result of flight and migration, who first have to learn German before they can take further steps.