Millennials Exacerbate Germany's Labor-Shortage Problem

(Bloomberg) -- Millennials, already criticized for everything from entitlement to excessive avocado consumption, may now be unwitting contributors to the dearth of qualified workers in Germany.

The unemployment rate in Europe’s largest economy has fallen to record lows in recent years, making it increasingly difficult for companies to find sufficient personnel to keep up with higher production demand. According to Valerie Holsboer, who sits on the board of the country’s Federal Labor Agency, part of the problem is that millennials have become too relaxed about transitioning from education or vocational training to the working world.

Apprenticeships, which are a common form of professional training in Germany, have seen an accelerating termination rate in recent years. The same has been true for universities, where nearly one in three students are dropping out of their bachelor studies before completion.

Millennials Exacerbate Germany's Labor-Shortage Problem

While many of those breaking off their training may do so to pursue other qualifications, these interruptions still have the potential to delay their transition into professional jobs.

“The high number of educational and vocational dropouts in recent years lead to an enormous loss of potential,” Holsboer said.

That said, it may be that the strength of Germany’s labor market is playing a part in millennial’s relaxed attitude towards following through with their plans. That marks a stark contrast to their peers in places like the U.K., who have often struggled to find secure jobs in the years following the financial crisis.

“Young people today are growing up in times of strong employment,” she added. “This can of course mean that they do not feel obliged to pursue an apprenticeship or secondary school immediately after graduation.”

To contact the author of this story: Carolynn Look in Frankfurt at

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