Ausbildung age limit in Germany: What applies here for internationals in 2023? We provide information on the opportunities and current developments.
An apprenticeship in Germany is mainly started by young Germans around the age of 15. This situation is increasingly changing. On the one side there is a trend that apprenticeships are given to persons with a higher age. On the other side apprenticeships are increasingly available for international applicants. Around ten percent of apprentices in Germany are already foreigners.
But is there actually an age limit for Ausbildung in Germany as international or German applicant?
Ausbildung age limit in Germany: Most important facts
Is there an Ausbildung age limit in Germany?
There is no fixed age limit for education in Germany – neither a minimum nor a maximum limit. In principle, an apprenticeship can be started at any age (typically starting at 15 or 16). This applies to applicants from Germany as well as from abroad. However, it is a different question whether German companies also accept older applicants. For a long time, it was not common to also hire apprentices over the age of 30 – but this is changing rapidly.
What is the minimum Ausbildung age limit in Germany?
The minimum age for an apprenticeship in Germany is not legally defined, but is usually 15 years. However, in most cases, foreigners entering Germany for training must be 18 years old to start training. This is due to the fact that as part of the training, contracts and documents must be signed for which there must be legal capacity. This concerns rental contracts, insurance policies, cell phone contracts, etc. In Germany, such legal capacity is generally only given to persons over the age of 18. Therefore, if you are a foreigner in Germany without parents, you may not be able to sign contracts.
Can I apply for an apprenticeship at any age?
There is no maximum age for an apprenticeship. As a German or a foreigner, you can apply for vocational training at practically any age. Traditionally, it is still common in Germany for apprentices to be of a younger age: most are between 15 and 25 years old. However, this is increasingly changing and more and more companies are also accepting older applicants.
In which apprenticeships are older applicants also accepted?
Older applicants, i.e. people over the age of 25, are particularly likely to be hired wherever there is a high shortage of apprentices. These include the following areas: Nursing staff, cleaning staff, IT, mechatronics, restaurants and hotels. Here, applicants over the age of 30 or even 40 are also regularly accepted.
How will the age limit for training develop in Germany?
It is to be expected that more and more older people will start training in Germany. The typical age for training between 15 and 25 will probably continue to change and there will be more trainees who are also 35 or older. At the moment, this is only really the case in the nursing sector. However, all occupational areas will probably have more older applicants in the coming years.
Is an Ausbildung in German preferred by boys or by girls?
Traditionally, certain apprenticeship fields are considered more attractive to one gender than the other. In Germany, vocational training or apprenticeships in fields like engineering, construction and IT have been considered more attractive to boys, while apprenticeships in fields like healthcare, beauty and caregiving have been considered more attractive to girls.
However, in recent years there has been a significant effort to promote gender equality in apprenticeships and to encourage more girls to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated fields. The German government and industry associations are promoting initiatives to raise awareness and interest of girls in fields like technology, engineering and natural sciences.
Additionally, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workforce, which has led employers to actively seek and encourage women to apply for apprenticeships in fields that have been traditionally male-dominated.
It is worth noting that the gender gap in apprenticeships is still present in some fields, but the trend is changing. The proportion of girls in apprenticeships has been increasing in recent years, and it is expected to continue to do so.
Important information on the current situation on the training market in Germany
The current situation on the training market in Germany is very tight: statistically, there is just one applicant for every training place. This means that most companies in Germany have hardly any choice.
Quite a few companies are unable to fill their training positions at all. This affects certain industries but – also certain regions. While the applicant situation is still good in the cities and in certain sectors such as the automotive industry, it looks much worse in the countryside and in the skilled trades.
However, companies depend on apprentices for their continued existence: Today’s apprentices are tomorrow’s skilled workers who keep the business running. In the coming years, more and more skilled workers will retire who cannot yet be replaced by successor staff.
Since the number of applicants for training in Germany is unlikely to change even in the foreseeable future, companies therefore often have only two options:
- they change the age limit for training in Germany and also accept lateral entrants, career changers and university dropouts
- they use applicants from abroad
There are also only a manageable number of applicants from abroad with good German skills so far – so the chances for all applicants with good German skills from abroad will probably remain high in the next few years.
Why is it that German employers accept more and more applicants with higher age?
There are several reasons why German employers are increasingly accepting applicants with higher age. Some of the main reasons include:
- Aging population: Germany, like many other developed countries, is facing an aging population, which means that the number of older workers in the workforce is increasing. Employers are recognizing the value and contributions that older workers can bring to their organizations and are becoming more open to hiring them.
- Skilled workforce: Many older workers have a wealth of experience and knowledge in their field, which makes them valuable assets to employers. Employers are recognizing that older workers can bring a level of expertise and professionalism that can be difficult to find in younger workers.
- Shortage of skilled workers: Germany is currently facing a shortage of skilled workers in certain sectors, such as engineering, healthcare, and IT. Employers are increasingly turning to older workers to fill these roles as they have the necessary skills and experience.
- Changes in the labor market: The German labor market has undergone significant changes in recent years, with an increase in flexible working arrangements and part-time work. This has made it easier for older workers to continue working, as they can choose to work fewer hours or on a more flexible schedule.
- Government policies: The German government has implemented policies to support older workers, such as extending the retirement age, and promoting training and education programs for older workers. This has led to more employers recognizing the potential of older workers and being more open to hiring them.
Overall, German employers are accepting more applicants with higher age because they are recognizing the value and contributions that older workers can bring to their organizations. As the labor market is changing, and the population is aging, employers are finding that older workers can be an asset to their organizations in terms of knowledge, skills, and experience.
Why don’t companies hire even more older apprentices?
In Germany, there is a tradition that apprentices are usually between 15 and 25 years old. Older apprentices have not been common for a long time, and companies also have to adapt their training to this first. It is sometimes somewhat difficult to convey that an apprentice may already be around 30 years old and have a lot of professional experience, while his or her trainer at the company or vocational school is just 25 years old and has less professional experience. Learning processes are required here, and these will certainly have to be completed in the coming years.
How far is it true that German employers welcome applicants for apprenticeships from abroad?
It is true that German employers are becoming more welcoming of applicants for apprenticeships from abroad. German apprenticeships, known as “dual education system” have a long-standing reputation for quality and efficiency, and many international students are attracted to the opportunities that these apprenticeships offer.
Many German companies have international operations and are looking for employees with language and cultural skills. They see apprenticeships as an opportunity to train and attract talented young people from abroad, and are willing to invest in their development.
Furthermore, German employers are increasingly recognizing the value of diversity and international perspectives in the workplace. They see apprentices from abroad as an opportunity to bring new ideas and perspectives to their companies, and to develop a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
However, it’s worth noting that applying for an apprenticeship in Germany can be challenging for foreign applicants, particularly for those who do not speak German fluently. Many apprenticeships require a good command of German, as the training takes place in German and the exams are in German. Additionally, the application process can be complex and competitive.
What other criteria are important for companies when it comes to trainees?
Companies that want to hire trainees all usually have a whole range of criteria that they apply when selecting personnel. Companies usually ask themselves one central question: how much does it cost to train a person and what is the likelihood that these training costs will come back to the company in the form of that person’s subsequent working hours.
Companies therefore generally ask themselves how long a person will continue to work for the company after the training and what additional costs will arise besides the training (for example, additional costs for language training, tutoring in mathematics or physics).
Companies therefore usually pay attention to these criteria besides Ausbildung age limit:
- Are the school grades sufficient?
- How likely is it that the apprentice will stay with the company after the apprenticeship?
- Can the apprentice complete the training?
- Does the trainee fit in with our customers, suppliers and partners?
- Does the trainee fit into the team?
- If the apprentice comes from abroad: Does he or she have sufficient knowledge of German (for foreigners, this should be around level B1)?
In addition, there are of course a number of other criteria.