Berlin Given the shrinking population, continuing education is seen as the key to combating the growing shortage of skilled workers. However, despite the federal government’s continuing education strategy, only one out of 100 vocational training graduates receives a scholarship allowing them to subsequently qualify as a master craftsperson or technician.
This means that the proportion is only half that of students: two percent of them receive a scholarship from federally funded organizations for the promotion of gifted students or a German scholarship. In addition, young specialists with an immigrant background are largely under-represented in continuing education grants.
This is shown by the federal government’s response to a small request from the FDP parliamentary group, which is available exclusively for the Handelsblatt. “The federal government should finally better promote talent in vocational training”, claims Jens Brandenburg, spokesman for the liberal party for vocational training. “The many speeches on Sunday about strengthening vocational training must be followed by action: we must eliminate the imbalance between students and those with vocational training and significantly increase the funds for the continuing education grant”, a- he told the Handelsblatt.
The federal government launched a national continuing education strategy in 2019 – not much has happened since. Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) recently gave the green light to the national education platform already announced in the coalition agreement.
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In recent years, around 6,000 young specialists under the age of 25 have received a scholarship for continuing education, for example to acquire new qualifications as master craftsperson or technician or to continue their studies. The costs of the measurement itself, travel expenses, accommodation costs at the place of measurement and work equipment are covered.
The maximum amount of funding has been increased to a total of 8100 euros in 2020 – an average of 4348 euros has recently been paid per scholarship holder.
Since the program was launched in 1991, 145,000 young professionals have been funded with €500 million. The Federal Ministry of Education has an annual budget for this funding of around 30 million euros.
Bad chances for migrants
Scholarship holders with an immigrant background are largely underrepresented – although they often choose a vocational training route, criticizes Brandenburg. According to the federal government, nearly 15% of the grants went to migrants. Their share of candidates for vocational training, on the other hand, is now 30%, including refugees even 36%.
In view of the particular difficulties that migrants sometimes encounter, the liberal claims: “Talent is not measured only by the results of final exams, but also by the particularly impressive paths towards this objective. This must be taken into account when addressing and selecting recipients personally.
Continuing education scholarships are awarded to “talented” applicants – as a general rule, a final grade of at least 1.9 is required for this. Alternatively, they can also be offered by their company or vocational school.
Far fewer scholarship holders go abroad
The proportion of scholarship holders who go abroad has fallen considerably: in the 1990s it was still around 15% – it is now only 6%. “In times of a globalized world of work, this is a worrying development,” said the FDP MP from Brandenburg. “In addition to larger domestic measures, the scholarship should allow for greater opportunity for overseas experience. University scholarships often support stays abroad with additional funds. Why wouldn’t this also be possible in the context of professional development?”
It is unclear how many young people actually apply for a further education grant – and how well known the support is. There is no data on this, it says in the response to the request. However, the funding capacity is “appropriate from a federal government perspective,” the Department of Education said.
A completion rate is also not recorded, nor the proportion of measurements that take place entirely or partially digitally. An evaluation of the program is planned for 2022.
Currently, scholarship recipients are almost exclusively supported financially – but the Ministry is considering setting up “ideal accompaniments”, i.e. seminars, training and networking meetings, such as those offered by the organizations of gifted support for their scholarship students. There are already pilot projects in the health professions.
The stock exchanges are administered by the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHK) and the Chambers of Trades. The Vocational Training Foundation (CFF) is competent for specialized professions in the health sector. Information can be found at www.weiterbildungsstipendium.de.
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