STUTTGART -- Most German car manufacturers and their suppliers don't plan to increase the number of apprenticeships they offer in 2003 or 2004.
Only Audi, BMW and Mannesmann are looking to take on more apprentices in Germany. These are the findings of a study done by German sister publication Automobilwoche.
BMW started a special training program in 2001. It announced that by 2004 it would create 500 more traineeships. Audi in Ingolstadt plans to increase the number of apprenticeships it offers from 405 a year to 453 by the end of 2003. The number of apprenticeships at the plant in Neckarsulm will remain unchanged at 222.
German Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Wolfgang Clement's demand for an extensive education program for future engineers has not had much impact on automobile manufacturers and suppliers.
"In the current economic situation the automotive industry is one of the few to offer young people professional prospects," said Bernd Gottschalk, president of the VDA, the German automakers' association.
The study shows that due to the slow economy and high labor costs, companies are refraining from taking on more trainees.
"This is a narrow-minded way of thinking," said Eva Kuda, a spokeswoman from IG Metall's training department. "The automotive industry should be able to train more people than it needs."