Aug. 30 - Some German companies are struggling to recruit apprentices - and are looking to troubled euro zone countries like Spain where youth unemployment is rocketing and there's a pool of young, qualified workers. Joanna Partridge reports on the young Spaniards who've left home to start a technical career in Germany.
A lesson with a difference. For Spanish apprentice Iulian Costantea, it's the beginning of a new traineeship - and a new life. Newly arrived in Germany, he's attending a class on heating and plumbing systems. Despite his degree in electrical engineering, Iulian hasn't been able to find a job at home in Spain. So after completing a two-week trial internship in Germany in April, he left his parents and sister behind, and moved. SOUNDBITE: Iulian Costantea, Spanish Apprentice, saying (Spanish): "I liked what I saw in Germany and I'd like to stay here if I get a job offer." In a pilot project, Frankfurt's Chamber of Crafts recently recruited 44 young people from the Madrid area to begin apprenticeships with some of its members, like the Bruder and Feucht plumbing business. They've taken on Iulian and another Spaniard as trainees. It's a win-win situation. In Spain, over half of under-25s are out of work. But in Germany they can't find enough trainee workers to cope with demand, according to Bruder and Feucht manager Andreas Feucht. SOUNDBITE: Andreas Feucht, Manager at plumbing business "Bruder & Feucht", saying (German): "In our area of business, there's practically noone available in the Frankfurt area. For quite some time now we have been looking for people in different ways - via newspaper ads and online, but no-one applied." The firm was pleasantly surprised by the Spanish recruits during their initial internship. SOUNDBITE: Andreas Feucht, Manager at plumbing business "Bruder & Feucht", saying (German): "Our expectations from the Spanish apprentices are that these young people are very motivated and willing to work hard - when you consider that they're willing to leave their home and their friends to move to a foreign country where they don't even speak the language yet." That's another challenge 21-year-old Iulian and other recruits face - learning German. An even bigger challenge is solving record unemployment in the euro zone. It's far higher in southern countries - hovering around 26% in Spain, while it's almost 7% in Germany. Programs like this may go some way to helping bridge that divide.