Horticulture: Seeking and finding apprentices


Over 60,000 apprenticeship positions could not be filled in Germany in 2018; there were not enough young people, especially for training positions in the retail trade. Specialist editor, Heike Hoppe interviewed horticultural companies that are training apprentices about their strategies and experiences.

Sometimes horticultural companies have to search long and hard for suitable apprentices

Andreas Beier, Beier Market Garden and Garden Centre, Mannheim-Sandhofen:

We usually have six apprentices, but one of them has just moved away ‒ for the sake of love! Now there are only five. (He laughs.) That happens again and again, we find that things are not as they used to be. In the past, you spent your entire life in the place where you were trained. This has changed radically. I have two daughters who want to go to Australia to undertake student placements when they have finished school. They want to get to know and find out about different countries and places. That is how it is today.

Our company is now 80 years old and we are celebrating our anniversary this year. And since 1949 we have been training apprentices! I know this so precisely, because a few days ago there was an enquiry from the Regional Council and we researched into the matter.

We have always taken the topic of training very seriously. From a total of eight master tradesmen and two technicians we have one master tradeswoman and one master tradesman with responsibility for the apprentices. Our garden centre has about 50 employees; the market garden employs another six to eight persons, depending on the season.

Sufficient applicants for apprenticeships

We advertise apprenticeship positions on our website, via Facebook and of course, by word of mouth. Up to 2,000 people visit our market each day and this makes us very visible and we make a lot of contacts, both with young people and their parents. In this respect we do not have to make any great effort or engage in spectacular campaigns. Our good name alone brings us sufficient applications. Almost every year we can select our apprentices from 20 to 30 applicants.

We are open six days a week and we are visible and readily contactable and all our training relationships in the last few years have developed in this personal way. We also offer student placements and give young people the opportunity to find out about themselves. We are simply there for them.

Philipp Wortmeyer, Hans Wortmeyer Tree Nursery, Apen:

We have in fact been looking for an apprentice since 2012, which was the year I passed the trainer aptitude examination. It has taken until now for us to find the suitable candidate! Up to now we have received about 30 applications, but there was never one which was suitable. The applicants were usually people who had already left a series of training and apprenticeship positions early and who had been recommended by the employment agency. I had searched through the agency, on various job portals, including the Apprentice Exchange for the town of Apen, through our own website and via Facebook. We did not publish advertisements.

It was the employment agency who drew the attention of our apprentice, Laura Waldeck to us. She then looked at our website and she liked what she saw there, so she applied.

When an apprentice is 100% suitable for the company

Her situation: She had taken her Abitur (A-levels) examination and was doing her voluntary ecological year (FÖJ). She had long before made up her mind that she wanted to be a plantswoman. Her love for gardening originated in her father’s garden and during the FÖJ she was also responsible for a garden. This strengthened her desire for a career in gardening. Laura simply suited us one hundred per cent: her CV, her appearance, her career plans, her whole personality.

I hope that we have given Laura a good start in her training and that in the future we will be able to motivate many more energetic young people to take up a career in gardening.

Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce: 61,000 vacant apprentice positions in 2018

Currently 200,700 vacant apprenticeship positions are reported by the employment agencies alone. This is significantly more than the 139,700 young people who are looking for an apprenticeship. This was reported by the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) at the start of the 2018 training year. The DIHK President, Eric Schweitzer stated, “There are still vacant apprenticeship positions in nearly all careers and regions; companies are desperately looking to recruit the younger generation.”

Already last year more than one in every three training companies was unable to fill all their positions. Therefore, many companies are offering an opportunity specifically to young people with poorer academic achievements. Others are advertising attractive additional offers to those about to sit the Abitur (A-levels). Dual study courses, apprenticeships with periods abroad or exciting additional qualifications are being offered. In addition, companies are reinforcing their advertising to college drop-outs. The general message is, if you have good IT skills and are interested in digital applications you can make your mark in many industries.