Discrimination on the Training Market: Extent, Causes and Recommended Actions

A study by the Expert Council of German Foundations (SVR)

March 2014

Bias in hiring is a problem without borders. The German think tank the Expert Council of German Foundations (SVR) found evidence of name-based discrimination in Germany’s vocational job market. Students with Turkish names are less like than their German-named peers to get called in for an interview, despite equivalent resumes.

The following excerpts from the SVR report explain a major employment problem and the role of discrimination:

“Vocational training is considered an important pillar for ensuring the pool of skilled workers in Germany: for around one-third of all high school graduates, vocational training is the ticket to the job market. Employers, however, often complain that there aren’t enough suitable applicants. At the same time, several tens of thousands of high school graduates are left without a training position every year – with a disproportionately high number of young people with a migration background.”

“To be invited to an interview, candidates with a German name have to submit an average of five applications while a fellow applicant with a Turkish name has to send seven. Discrimination is more pronounced for training as an automotive mechatronics specialist: an applicant with a Turkish name has to submit around 1.5 times as many applications to be invited to an interview than his fellow applicants with German names. To train as an office administrator, he has to apply 1.3 times as often to be asked to an interview. The size of the company plays an important role: the discrimination rate among small companies with fewer than six employees is much higher than at medium-sized and large companies.”

To reduce bias in hiring, the SVR provides five recommendations:

(1) Raise awareness: confront biases and build company capacity to deal with diversity, e.g. by expanding the module Cross-Cultural Skills in the professional qualification for trainers and involve more company employees with their own migration experience in selecting and supporting trainees.

(2) Make the application process anonymous: create efficient and low-cost services, e.g. by developing a software application that medium-sized and small companies can use to easily accept applications anonymously.

(3) Increase professionalism: optimise the search and selection process, e.g. companies should be given practical instructions to help them find suitable candidates for their training positions and avoid discriminating selection mechanisms. Especially small companies can expand their recruiting and search channels to reach, in particular, young people with a migration background more effectively.

(4) Mobilise: get young people more involved and increase their chances, e.g. through more cooperation between schools and companies to offer more practical training days and short internships. This will make it possible for young people to network better with local companies right from the very start.

(5) Set the agenda: equal opportunity on the training market as a political, economic and civil society issue, e.g. the partners of the future “Alliance for Training and Continuing Education” give new impetus and develop effective measures to combat discrimination in access to training in addition to providing a training guarantee. The federal government and Länder should, in addition to strengthening the institutions for equality and anti-discrimination, anchor the issue of training market equality in integration policy over the long run.

SVR-FB_2014_Diskriminierung_Durchschnittliche-Anzahl-der-Bewerbungen

Infografik SVR, Deniz Keskin

Read the Executive Summary (English).

Read the Full Report (German).

See the Infographic (German).

Learn more about the The Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration.