Why do some companies not train internally?

According to the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) in 2020, around 19.4 percent of all companies in Germany were involved in training young people within the dual system. The slight decline trend of training company quotas is continuing.

For many companies, the question of whether they train internally is a simple cost-benefit calculation. As determined by BIBB, from the 2017/18 training year - in January 2023 still the most recent survey on this topic - the gross costs per trainee amounted to approximately 20,855 euros per year - 16 percent more than five years prior. In addition to personnel costs for trainees and trainers, this amount also includes all other costs, such as the maintenance and establishment of training workshops or learning and teaching materials. This total is expected to increase significantly again in 2023.

In comparison, the productive work performance of the trainees amounted to 14,377 euros per year in 2017/2018. That means: On a nationwide average, companies have to offset the net costs of 6,478 euros per trainee. There are significant differences between sectors and individual companies. After all, roughly 28 percent of the trainees already make a net income during their apprenticeship. For all other companies, the apprenticeship only pays off in the medium- to long-term.

Why should companies provide training themselves?

Across all company sectors, a skilled workers shortage is likely or has already become a problem, not wanting to forgo training of their own young professionals. This applies all the more for small- and medium-sized companies along with companies that produce individual items in small production lots or offer very specific services. For them, the employee's knowledge and wealth of experience are the most important capital for sustained economic success.

Other major factors also put the costs of the training into perspective:

  • In-house trained young professionals meet your expectations the best.
  • The trainees are given in-house knowledge aside from the official course material; comparable workers are not available on the job market.
  • In the long term, the fluctuation of self-trained employees is lower because they are more closely tied to the company.

The last point is an especially important factor for companies that decide to train their own staff. Semi-skilled workers are much more willing to leave a company, even if they only receive little benefits, such as a slightly higher wage. They often lack the perspective because they have "only" been trained and also rarely participate in professional development activities. In the worst-case scenario, this aspect can have a negative impact on the company: should there be a high fluctuation in a company, there is a high chance that productivity will fall with the error rate increasing simultaneously. 

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Can every company provide training?

Businesses that want to provide training must comply with the provisions of the Vocational Training Act and the Youth Worker Protection Act, and workshops also with the Crafts Code. Above all, each company should also be suitable as a training centre in terms of equipment. The current recommendation states: One trainee is permitted per one to two skilled workers, two trainees per three to five skilled workers, and three trainees per six to eight skilled workers. In larger companies, the rule of thumb applies: one trainee can be hired for every three additional skilled workers. If certain areas cannot be taught within the company, this deficit can be solved by an inter-company training facility.

Obviously, a company must also have a sufficient number of trainers. If a supervisor is used exclusively for training, they can coach up to 15 trainees. If they also assume other tasks simultaneously, they should be in charge of a maximum of five trainees. A training company may only appoint a trainer if they can demonstrate professional qualifications. This occurs if the said person has a qualification in the training occupation themself. The trainer proves their work and vocational pedagogical aptitude through the Trainer Aptitude Examination. This may be waived if the trainer has passed the Master Craftsman’s Examination. Background: The Trainer Aptitude Examination is part of the Master Craftsman’s Examination.

Conclusion: Most companies prefer semi-skilled workers

With the training of young professionals being relatively expensive and associated with a considerable investment for each company, many companies prefer semi-skilled workers. However, internal company training offers a number of advantages, for example, a closer personal bond with the company. This is especially appreciated by companies whose most important asset is the knowledge and experience of their own employees. This makes the training of young employees a sustainable investment for the future of a company.