BERLIN, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Female apprentices in Germany's vocational training system continue to earn less on average than their male counterparts, a study published on Tuesday by the state-owned KfW banking group finds.
According to the study, female apprentices earned an average collective wage which was 3 percent lower compared with the income of male trainees. The KfW group noted that the actual pay gap was likely to be even higher because a larger share of women trained in fields which were not covered by collective wage agreements at all.
The gender discrepancy identified in the data was mainly attributed to different choices of training programs by men and women. Female apprentices only accounted for 14 percent and 27 percent respectively of on-the-job trainees in the construction and industrial manufacturing sector, while making up more than half of the service sector apprenticeships. Many of the latter positions tended to be concentrated in small enterprises with less than five employees.
Aside from depressing their wages during the actual training period, the KfW highlighted that the gendered choice of program had a longer-term impact on the future earning power and professional opportunities of German women. The findings consequently highlighted the importance of addressing cultural stereotypes surrounding male and female roles in the labor market which influenced the career decisions of young girls.
Overall, the KfW recorded the first aggregate increase of 1.1 percent in the number of apprentices in six years in 2017. Around 90 percent of the 1.32 million trainees were hereby employed in small and mid-sized (SME) companies. SMEs are often depicted as the backbone of the German economy with their participation in the country's "dual education system", comprising two distinct university and apprenticeship routes, being cited as a key reason for its relatively low youth unemployment.
Given high demand for skilled labor from employers, the state-owned banking group predicted on Tuesday that the total number of apprentices was likely to grow again by roughly 1 percent in 2018 in spite of a broader trend towards a preference of pupils in Germany to enrol in university studies.
However, women in particular were more and more likely to shun the specific variant of vocational programs comprised of on-the-job training as opposed to further schooling.
In 2017, female apprentices made up 38 percent of all on-the-job training places. By contrast, young women constituted 80 percent of new entrants into vocational colleges.
Whereas vocational colleges tend to focus on the provision of skills for the healthcare-, education and social work sector, mechanic- and industrial manufacturing related professions are overrepresented in the spaces made available by companies for on-the-job training. Nevertheless, the study argued that the latter employers could increasingly rely on recently-arrived refugees to fill resulting vacancies as the integration of the cohort into the German labor market continued to progress well.