Germany’s education advantage over European peers at risk

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Having a strong education and vocational training system is important for Germany’s economy, Europe’s largest, which relies on skilled workers to support its high-end products and services.

“Germany has lagged behind to some extent in the strong expansion of education that has taken place throughout the European Union in recent years,” according to the IW study, which Reuters had access to on Saturday.

In the European Union, the proportion of workers aged between 25 and 64 without a vocational qualification or higher education has decreased to 20.7% in 2021 from 27% in 2011, thanks to a dynamic expansion of education in -Southern Europe. However, in Germany, this share of the population increased slightly to 15.2% in 2021 from 13.4% 10 years earlier, the study showed.

Among young professionals, those aged between 25 and 34, the proportion of highly qualified people with tertiary education was much lower in Germany at 35.7%, compared to 41.2% on average in the European Union.

“This should be seen against the background of the very special position of vocational education and training in Germany,” said the IW. If one looks at the segment of young professionals with tertiary and secondary vocational training together, Germany has a much higher share of 77.0% of educated professionals than 73.4% for the European Union.

“With the changing demands on employees in the context of digitalisation, decarbonisation and deglobalisation, it is becoming increasingly important for Germany and Europe that the working population achieves the highest possible qualification,” said the IW.

The IW, a private research institute that promotes German employers, said the government should ensure through early and intensive support that all children in the country can obtain a vocational qualification.

(Reporting by Klaus Lauer and writing by Maria Martinez; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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