The corona crisis could force thousands of apprentices to increase Hartz IV or ask their parents for financial help: If they, like their colleagues, do short-time work, their already low apprenticeship pay will also drop to 60 percent. "Trainees are particularly affected by short-time work: they earn below the minimum wage, a cut to 60 percent is a threat to their existence here," says the training expert of the German Trade Union Confederation, Matthias Anbuhl.
Around 1.3 million young people are currently being trained in Germany, with hundreds of thousands moving up each year. The average monthly salary of trainees is currently 939 euros gross. However, there is a wide range between the various professions: The minimum is the minimum training allowance of 515 euros gross in the first year of training since this year. Here the short-time allowance would be 249 euros per month. A carpenter, for example, earns considerably more with up to € 850 in the first year of training.
Trainees are given special protection by law, both for short-time work as well as for layoffs and bankruptcy: "Short-time work is the ultimate ratio for trainees: If I shut down production, I first have to see whether trainees can continue studying in another department before I can send them in short-time work, "says the head of the training and further education department at the IHK Essen, Franz Roggemann. If there is no other learning station – as is often the case in small training companies – another form of protection applies first: in contrast to normal employees who then go on short-time work, apprentices are entitled to a full salary for six weeks. But after that the short-time work comes into effect with a cut to 60 percent of the salary. Those who do not live with their parents and do not receive any vocational training allowance will have to struggle.
"You have to come up with solutions"
In addition, the six weeks of continued payment of wages are apparently currently too much for some companies. "The protection rule makes sense in principle, but maybe no longer in this situation. Companies have called here who are in such dire straits that they cannot finance it. You have to come up with solutions, such as a reimbursement," says Roggemann.
This is especially true for many hotels and restaurants that have had to close and do not know when to continue. The German Hotel and Restaurant Association Dehoga demands from Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) to include the trainees in the short-time allowance from day one: "The existence of thousands of guest companies is currently at stake," says a spokeswoman for Dehoga. "The entitlement to continued payment of the training allowance for six weeks according to the BBiG (Vocational Training Act) must withdraw after that." The Ministry of Labor and Education is currently working on a solution for short-time work benefits for trainees.
Little money is not the only consequence of the Corona crisis for the young trainees. Their vocational schools, in which they are usually taught the inter-company learning content, are also closed. Instead, they have to go to the company on their vocational school day – when it is open.
Trainees in the last year of apprenticeship should also take their exams with the chambers shortly. The approximately 290,000 final exams, which consist not only of theory but also of practical demonstrations and take place in large groups in front of examination boards, were initially canceled until April 24th. In the meantime, the chambers have moved the exams nationwide into the summer.