The training market is under pressure: last year employers signed less than 500,000 training contracts – the lowest figure in over 40 years. The interns themselves complain of reduced vacations, overtime and fear of the future due to the pandemic. This is now shown by a study by the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB), which is investigating the situation of interns during the corona pandemic.
For the representative survey, researchers from the Mainz Institute for socio-educational research interviewed 1,035 trainees. According to the results, the corona pandemic raises fears among young people: around 35% of those questioned fear that they will not be able to complete the training successfully, because the content of the training could only be partially transmitted due to the pandemic. Trainees in the third year of training are particularly concerned, they are about to take their final exams: only around 49% consider that they have been “well” or “very well” informed about the upcoming exams and the process. .
About 95% of those surveyed passed the crisis on to home schooling or distance learning. The trainees are not satisfied with this. Among trainees who started their training before the corona pandemic, about a third say the quality of teaching in vocational schools has deteriorated since the pandemic. “Before the pandemic, schools were technically not as good as they could have been,” said Friedrich Esser, president of the Pedagogical Institute for Professional Research (BIBB). Nevertheless: “We have learned how important it is to have good technical equipment and qualified training staff. We must now promote this professionalization.
According to the study, around 60 percent of those surveyed did some of their training at home rather than on the job. However, only about 35% of those surveyed had all the materials and equipment they needed for home office training made available by the company. 20 percent of those surveyed said they had not received any help with work or learning. There were also bottlenecks in support: only a third of the people questioned were “always” available for training during the home office phases. The pandemic poses challenges for businesses – especially in industries where a home office is not possible, Esser says. “Nonetheless, companies have tried to continue teaching interns about company content – hygienically and without contact with customers.”
Many apprentices had to work overtime or had fewer vacations
The study shows that interns are working overtime during the corona pandemic. About a third of trainees said they had to “always” or “often” work longer. Almost 80 percent worked up to five hours more per week. A quarter of young people also had to “often” or “always” do non-training activities, such as shopping or cleaning and tidying up. This value has more than doubled compared to the pre-pandemic period.
According to respondents, it is not only the quality of training that has suffered from the pandemic. There was also a decrease in salary. Companies reduced their training allowance by around a quarter of those surveyed. Some interns have also had to give up vacation days. Almost one in five interns said their vacation was cut short at least once during the pandemic. For about 62 percent of those affected, it was up to five days of vacation.
The youth leader of the German Federation of Trade Unions, Joscha Wagner, speaks of the alarming results. It is the duty of employers to ensure a good quality of training and to comply with applicable laws. “To ensure this, we need more efficient and regular checks in training companies,” explains Wagner. “Otherwise, it will always be at the expense of the interns.