Thuringia shares its experience on recruiting apprentices from abroad

26 August 2019 - Training young people helps companies obtain the skilled labour they need. The consequences of demographic change are already having a visible impact on the training market. This means that the business community needs to find new ways to attract skilled labour. The German Land of Thuringia, for example, has launched a funding programme that has enabled local companies hire apprentices from Vietnam. Kirstin v. Graefe, who works at the Thuringian Agency For Skilled Personnel Marketing (ThaFF) at Landesentwicklungsgesellschaft Thüringen mbH (email: tells us more about the imitative.  

1. Why is the programme focusing on attracting apprentices from Vietnam, and what partners are you working with?

Vietnam and Thuringia have been working closely together on training and employment for many decades. Businesses and customers in Thuringia appreciate working with Vietnamese employees. It was the businesses from southern Thuringia which had the idea to focus on apprentices from Vietnam. They wanted to try something new and took a creative approach. 
The chambers of crafts and the chamber of commerce of southern Thuringia joined forces, resulting in a strong and successful alliance. Landesentwicklungsgesellschaft Thüringen and its representative in Vietnam were brought on board. Together, the partners were able to really make a difference, with the project becoming ever more successful each year.

2. What are the requirements for apprentices from Vietnam and what fields are
they being trained in?

All the apprentices have excellent language skills, they are confident and motivated to live in a country that is very different from their own. The candidates take one year of German lessons whilst they are still in Vietnam. They need to achieve the B2 level – which is very sophisticated. They are also taught a lot about the environment in which they will live and train and they establish contacts with companies in southern Thuringia that may be interested in training them. To complete their language course, applicants need to take a German exam at the Goethe Institute. Once they have passed the exam, they decide what profession they want to learn. They work in many different fields, particularly in construction, as vehicle mechanics, in the food trade, as metal workers, in electronics and building services engineering and the hospitality sector.

3. How successful has the programme been thus far and what challenges have you had to master?

We are now in the third year of our pilot project. The programme is successful, with the number of apprentices rising each year. Managing the application and visa procedures can be challenging, but I think we are doing quite well. In order for apprentices to be able to successfully complete their training here in Thuringia, it is important for them to be well-integrated – this means helping them get a good start here in Germany. Apprentices can obtain support from their companies and colleagues, and there are also local partners and projects that offer social and educational assistance. We continue to learn from one another and with one another. Apprentices who are in their second or third year of training can also help apprentices who are just starting out.

4. Will the programme be continued?

The project has proven to be successful and will be continued after the pilot phase in southern Thuringia ends. From August 2019, we will receive funding for it under a new programme from the Thuringia Ministry for Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society. 

This means that companies that are based in the free state of Thuringia will continue to be able to attract young people from around the world to come train in Germany. There is great demand for skilled labour in Thuringia, so that the Land can guarantee almost all apprentices a job once they have completed their training.

For more information on the programme for the recruitment of apprentices from abroad and projects undertaken with other countries, contact the Thuringian Agency For Skilled Personnel Marketing (ThaFF) – Thuringia’s Welcome Center:

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