Despite the lack of trainees: Bremen introduces a training levy
BBefore the members of the Bremen Parliament meet on Wednesday, they should be offered a cup of coffee or tea on the town hall square. The hot drink is donated by the entrepreneurs in the city, who have joined forces to form a new alliance of this breadth and have started a petition. Bremen’s economy is protesting against the introduction of a training levy, which is to be decided before the upcoming state elections in May. The first reading is on Wednesday. The red-green-red Senate would like to collect 0.3 percent of their gross wages from companies for a “training support fund”. The companies should then come out of the pot for everyone trainee Get 1500 to 2500 euros back annually – if you don’t train, you pay extra.
Not only do companies fear that this redistribution will create another bureaucratic monster. They keep the project, an old concern of the unions and the parties associated with them, in view of the shortage of skilled workers also for completely outdated.
“Nowadays, I’m touring from job fair to job fair,” says former Chamber of Commerce President Christoph Weiss, who is one of the leaders of the protest alliance. “Because I can’t find enough trainees anymore.” Weiss runs a dental technology company with around 500 employees and fears that he will have to pay a six-figure sum into the planned fund, but will get significantly less out of it for his 17 trainees. “I don’t understand the approach,” complains the entrepreneur, who was also active for the Bremen CDU.
Double punishment for butcher shops
The responsible economic state councilor Kai Stührenberg from the party Die Linke holds against it. The fund will help companies to adapt to the changed situation on the labor market. Because the training has become more complex, explains Stührenberg. Employers would have to deal with “different language levels”; one or two trainees also lack “social skills” or “performance orientation”.
In addition to the premiums for training companies, the fund should therefore also be used to finance offers. It is also about the training of young people “who are not recognized as being able to train at first glance,” says Stührenberg. Of the 30 million euros that the Senate wants to collect from companies, around a third should be available for such measures. Two thirds are to flow back to the companies as bonuses. Many companies would be paid out more than they pay in.
A butcher’s shop, however, could in future be punished twice for the unpopularity of its branch. On the one hand, she has to pay into the fund and, on the other hand, she receives few bonuses because, despite her great efforts, she can hardly find any trainees. “Yes, you could see a certain injustice there,” admits Stührenberg. However, he considers the criticism of the bureaucratic effort to be unjustified. Only around ten positions are required for the administration of the fund. And the companies needed “a maximum of half an hour” to fill out the form. For claiming the hardship rule for small companies “another half hour, no more”.
In addition, sectors with collectively agreed training models such as in the construction industry or nationwide models such as in care are excluded. With a view to the other sectors, Stührenberg appeals to the willingness of entrepreneurs to get involved in solving the “problem of society as a whole” on the training market. That is in their own interest.
Entrepreneurs like Christoph Weiss, however, are opposed to politicians unloading the financial burden of a social problem on them. “We’re happy to train people,” asserts Weiss, “even without a bonus.” However, the companies are not responsible for the lack of training suitability. This has deeper roots and also has something to do with the schools in Bremen, which are often in poor condition, and not only structurally. The protesting entrepreneurs point out that “Bremen has been last in educational rankings for years” and that “about 600 pupils leave school without a qualification” every year.
The State Council from the Economics Department considers this linking of the planned fund to the educational misery to be “populist”. But as a politician, Stührenberg also knows that the dispute over the “training support fund” will be part of the Bremen election campaign.