Germany's dual-track training system includes theory lessons at vocational schools
Afghans, Syrians help German companies to fill training vacancies
German companies last year managed to attract more apprentices to their dual-track vocational training schemes due to a surge in applications from asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Syria.
Skilled labour shortages and fewer young people willing to start on-the-job training for up to three-and-a-half years have become the biggest concerns for managers in Europe's largest economy.
The number of training vacancies are at their highest for more than 20 years. More than a third of companies cannot fill places, according to business surveys.
However, the arrival of more than one million asylum seekers in Germany since 2015 has eased the problem slightly, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Wednesday.
The number of trainees with no German citizenship rose by 10,500, helping to lift the overall number of new vocational training contracts by 5,700, to 515,700 in 2017, the data showed.
Interest in training was particularly strong among young men from Afghanistan and Syria as their number among apprentices more than tripled, the office said.
The dual-track training system also includes theory lessons at vocational schools. It is being exported in various forms to Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. But its popularity is waning in Germany as young people increasingly prefer the status of a university degree.
That could hurt growth in Europe's biggest economy by exacerbating a skilled labour shortage, partly caused by hundreds of thousands of ageing employees leaving the labour market each year.
The statistics office said the number of drop-outs in vocational training fell slightly last year as up to 146,000 contracts were terminated prematurely.