Tomorrow's man downgrades graduates

Juergen Ruettgers, Germany's new "minister for tomorrow", has warned that graduates will have to expect lower salaries in future and accept jobs that will not necessarily match their qualifications.

He made his prediction when he presented a report on employment perspectives for graduates until the year 2010. The study had been commissioned by the joint federal-state commission for educational planning, which Mr Ruettgers chairs. The report says that there will still be an oversupply of graduates in Germany of between 600,000 and 1.2 million in the year 2010.

The projections are based on expectations that within 15 years students will complete degrees more quickly and that 40 per cent will be from Fachhochschulen, the more practically-orientated alternatives to universities. Currently they account for 30 per cent.

By contrast, the demand for skilled workers is likely to rise by between 10 and 17 per cent in the next 15 years. The report says there could be a deficit of skilled workers of between 600,000 and 900,000. Mr Ruettgers criticised an increasing trend of businesses to take on fewer apprentices and instead hire Fachhochschule graduates whose education cost the state between DM100,000 (Pounds 42,000) and DM150,000 each. He said business was "pulling the rug from under its own feet".

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