University Education and the Lack of Skilled Workers

In cooperation with the European Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, the German Association of Cities and Municipalities DStGB, European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME organized on March 8 2017 a dinner debate about the relationship between the target of more widespread university education and the lack of skilled workers in some EU countries.

The question of the conference was "Is the European Union too focused on higher education - Is the skills shortage the product of a false education policy?". Unfortunately, this issue is rarely taken up by events in Brussels. It is more likely to speak about the current political crises, the EMU reforms or Industry 4.0.

Nevertheless, the shortage of skilled workers is an acute problem that already harms our economy and could still be even more harmful in the long run. In Germany, the economy loses about 400,000 people annually due to age. Demographic change and the desire of many young people to study makes it increasingly difficult for some sectors to find suitable young professionals. For example, in northern Germany, companies and craft companies are desperately trying to get school graduates by offering gifts such as a company car. Despite these measures, many companies have not had any trainees for several years. That's why quite a few companies in some areas of Germany even had to shut down permanentely. At the same time, there are more and more University courses, not always apt for the job market. A good example is the Study Program Leisure Sciences at the University of Applied Sciences Bremen or the Cultural Studies at the University of Freiburg with one exam per semester.

Will young people be better prepared for working life than through work-based training? Is the current training policy of the Länder, in Germany and in the EU perhaps wrong and should it be reformed? These issues were discussed also with two speakers of BVMW, Mr. Andreas Vollmer of the Studiengemeinschaft Werner Kamprath in Darmstadt, and Jörg Hohnof the Tools Producer M&R GmbH in Berlin, both representing the view of the SME as training deliverers and employers.

At the end, Mr. Vollmer, the DStGB President Mr. Roland Schäfer, MEP Thomas Mann (CDU) and Mr. Felix Rohn, Expert for Vocational education and training skills policies at the European Commission discussed together with the moderator, Mr. Hendrik Kafsack of the newspaper FAZ, on which solutions the EC, the European Parliament, cities, municipalities and small and medium sized businesses would envisage.

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