In their desperate efforts to fill positions are also looking at kids who posted terrible grades, Die Welt newspaper wrote.
Lukas Rüger is one employer on the hunt. The restaurant owner in Bochum used to get as many as 200 CVs a year from young people seeking on-the-job training to become a chef.
This year there have only been 20 so far and he couldn't find a single one that fit his bill.
“Some don't show up to the interview - and don't even cancel,” he said. He's never experienced that before. “Previously the potential employee had to make a good impression. Now we have to do that so that a good candidate chooses to train with us.”
This story is common, the newspaper said, as the job market has completely turned around. In the 1990s and early part of 2000 there were tens of thousands of trainees looking in vain for a position. Now there are areas of Germany which essentially have full employment.
But employment experts note that “necessity is the mother of invention” and companies are increasingly turning to workers who are 50 and older and younger workers with terrible school performances to retrain them for new positions.
The bakery chain K&U, a subsidiary of the Edeka supermarket chain and one of the largest bakery chains in Germany, with 5,000 workers, is now training older workers.
The oldest trainee is 56, though the average age is around 40, said the trainee director Corinna Krefft-Ebner.
“Our acute emergency situation is forcing us to look for other solutions,” she told the paper. The senior trainees get paid what an untrained worker would get.
Others are turning to high school dropouts or those with poor grades to fill their spots. Otto Kentzler, the president of a trade association, said he's turned a boy who failed maths into quite a competent plumber.
But candidates have to have a basic education. “When I see that a candidate has dropped out of two trainee programmes and failed to show up for 50 hours of training, I'm skeptical," said one hotel owner.
Restaurant owner Rüger adds, "I can provide them with education about the trade, but you can't make up for a complete lack of an upbringing in three years of training.”