>> Europe's economic powerhouse is facing an increasing skilled labor shortage. Germany's vocational training program which involves several years of on-the-job learning alongside theory lessons is credited with giving it the European Union's lowest youth jobless rate. But its popularity now appears to be waning. More than a third of Germany's companies couldn't fill all of their training places last year, leaving 49,000 training positions vacant.
Reuters Michelle Martin is at Feldbinder, a company in Northern Germany which makes specialist vehicles.>> One of the problems is that an increasing number of people want to go to University after school, and that's happening at a time when Germany is suffering from a rapidly aging population. This problem is feeding into a broader skills shortage which is a risk for the strong German economy.
>> The company has enough money and orders to hire 20 people this summer, but can only find 14. It's a dangerous trend in a country where hundreds of thousands of ageing employees are already leaving the labor market every year.>> In concrete terms, it means companies will have big problems processing the orders they've taken on.
That leads to them having to reject orders which leads to the German economy not developing as well as it could and that means we would lose jobs.>> The vocational training program is widely admired abroad, it's being exported in various forms to countries around the globe. Now, the government faces the challenge of reviving its popularity at home, but that could be an uphill battle.
Last year, the number of vacancies for training positions was at its highest for more than 20 years.