A focus on securing skilled workers

The visit of an MP group from China to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Rhein-Neckar in Mannheim revolved around the topic of securing skilled workers.  The participants learned not only what motivates enterprises to offer training but also how to retain skilled workers, and how the system of vocational training works in Germany.

The 22 Chinese managers were welcomed by Jürgen Lindenberg, First Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce and Managing Director of Lindy-Elektronik GmbH in Mannheim. He presented the structure of the German Chambers of Commerce and their role in the economic development of the region. The topic of vocational training, which was raised in this process, was met with great interest from the MP participants, meaning a lively dialogue quickly ensued.

Hanna Sophie Schmidt, Head of the Markets International Sector at the Chamber of Commerce, provided detailed information about the vocational training system and the Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s contribution. In Germany, the Chambers are entrusted with the quality management of vocational training and supervise around 350 different vocational training qualifications. The Chinese guests also learned that thanks to the training being specific to each enterprise, fewer new employees are required and furthermore the costs of recruiting staff with exactly the right skills are also reduced. The vocational training system is a significant factor for why Germany has the lowest youth unemployment rate in Europe. The Chambers of Commerce’s apprenticeship job portal facilitates trainees in finding a position and firms in finding suitable workers.

“Some regions in China have a major problem retaining workers and are seeing an exodus of qualified personnel to urban areas,” said Zhang Xiao of Hebei Province, explaining the increased interest in the German vocational training system. The MP participant Li Miaoran, whose firm Beijing Hexu Technology also offers educational services, asked about the challenges of vocational training, its organisation and funding. The MP participants found the broad range of activities of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Rhein-Neckar remarkable along with value system it applies.  “Voluntary work is at the heart of the Chamber of Commerce,” enthuses Jürgen Lindenberg. More than 220,000 people are involved in voluntary work at a Chamber – as members of bodies and committees or as examiners.

Lastly, Maximilian Bernhardt, the foreign trade officer for Asia of the Chamber of Commerce Rhine-Neckar, reported on the international focus of the export-orientated Rhine-Neckar region; a region for which China is the second most important trading partner, after the USA. The volume of foreign trade has grown steadily in both directions over the last ten years and currently amounts to around EUR 30 billion. “The relationship with China is one of the most important for the region. China’s development is clearly a success story,” states Bernhardt.

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research Pictures: ©ZEW