Training – This term may sound pleasant to many managers. It promises better qualified employees, more opportunities and maybe even more motivation. However, many employees don’t explode as qualification measures draw near. Further training can also be seen as a nuisance (“What do they want now?”) And as a compulsion to adapt to new requirements. And there are plenty of them: digitization, accelerated energy transformation, the transition to electric motors in the automotive industry, are just a few of them. “I would like to make an emergency call, an emergency call to qualify – the new requirements create uncertainty among employees,” said Julia Görlitz, training expert at IG Metall on Friday during the German Labor Law Day in Berlin.
This year’s conference of lawyers, judges, politicians and other experts covered further training and qualifications – and thus a highly political topic. The inventory at the beginning of the meeting showed how much pressure to act is. According to the latest data from 2018, only about 35 percent. adults take part in further training activities – of which only 15% uses the acquired knowledge. And soon many specialists will leave their jobs, mainly due to retirement, we will lose 5.3 million jobs by 2040 – said Doris-Maria Schuster, president of AG Arbeitsrecht in the German Lawyers Association. All the more urgent it is to qualify the others. “The status quo is alarming,” said Schuster.
Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) and the traffic light coalition have taken up this issue, they want to remedy the situation with several instruments: The training internship should allow employees to complete one year of full-time training or two years part-time in the future. The Federal Employment Agency should pay support at this time, as well as unemployment benefits, and thus finance the plans. The new training allowance has to be as natural as the parental allowance, says Heil. Companies and employees who are struggling with upheavals, for example due to the loss of a business base due to a shutdown of the internal combustion engine, should be able to find a new job thanks to the training allowance. A lifetime student loan should enable people, as per the traffic light plans, to save money for whatever qualification they choose. For a professional reboot.
Participants reject the need for further training
However, key questions remain unanswered: should workers be entitled to further training? On the other hand, should companies be able to oblige their employees to take part in training? And who is financing all this: the state, companies or employees? Conflicts are predictable here, which was also seen on various podiums on Labor Law Day.
Julia Görlitz of IG Metall argued for the right to continue training, noting that employees “broke down doors and said we needed time to train”. In turn, the CDU labor market politician, Thomas Heilmann, insisted on voluntariness. “You have to convince the management that this is good for the company,” says the former Berlin senator for justice. With a shortage of skilled workers, companies are already putting pressure to train more. Other experts referred to the indirect form, i.e. the obligation for companies to offer employees a catalog of qualification courses.
There was greater agreement on whether workers should be required to participate more frequently in further training. Until now, this has usually only been possible when additional requirements are required by law or are necessary for the performance of a task, for example in the case of data protection officers or company doctors. According to the widespread opinion of the majority, this should remain the case. “With pressure alone, nothing can be achieved. Then someone will survive the training and learn nothing, ”said Stefan Kürschner, head of labor law and co-decision making at the software giant SAP.
So far, the question of the extent to which employers or employees have to pay for or devote their free time to further training has been largely unregulated. The legal uncertainty is great, said Martin Henssler, a professor at the University of Cologne. If the company pays for expensive Saturday training, is it working time? Both sides often benefit. There is nothing on this in the traffic light coalition coalition agreement, but it may still become a controversial issue.