Almost every third student leaves university without a degree. The German government and the crafts sector now want to sponsor pilot projects to ease access to vocational education and training (VET) for university dropouts.

Dropping out of university is seen as a gap in the CV by many, with some viewing it even as lack of perseverance. Yet soon university dropouts could be particularly sought after in the German labour market. As of January 2015, the Federal Ministry for Education and Research wants to sponsor nationwide pilot projects that will ease access to VET for university dropouts. Simultaneously, small and medium-sized enterprises will be supported in hiring more university dropouts. The education ministry will invest EUR 13.5 million in these projects during the current legislative period.

It is planned to create advisory services for university dropouts to win them back faster for employment and the apprenticeship market. Moreover, it is foreseen to offer fast-track apprenticeships, so qualifications that were previously attained at university will be generously recognised towards the apprenticeship. For instance, a former medical student could quickly become a hearing aid specialist; a former architecture student could become a master builder.

These pilot projects target a potential of several hundred thousand young people, as each year almost 30% of all students leave university without a degree. With fast-track apprenticeships for university dropouts, the ministry is trying to combat the looming skilled-labour shortage in Germany.

German employers’ associations estimate there will be a shortage of about 5.2 million skilled professionals by 2030. Academics are not the problem, as young Germans increasingly choose to go to university, but people with a vocational degree remain in urgent demand. In 2014, 15 000 apprenticeship placements remained vacant. On the other hand, numbers of first-time students increased by 129 000.

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Studienabbrecher sollen Handwerker werden