Matching Young People to Apprenticeships in Challenging Times - Employers' Recruitment and Selection Practices in the German Apprenticeship Market
For many employers, recruiting young people in the German apprenticeship market has become a challenge. This is at least partly due to demographic developments, which have been accompanied by changing occupational preferences among young people. At the same time, there are skill shortages in the intermediate-skill labor market segment and thus a continuously high demand for workers with vocational qualifications. Against this backdrop, this project asks whether and in which respects employers adapt their recruitment and selection practices to cope with challenges posed by their recruitment contexts and how this compares to young people's search strategies. Hence, the project will contribute to addressing research gaps on how supply and demand conditions relate to matching processes in youth labor markets. The project will also shed light on possible consequences in terms of social inequalities within the group of school leavers as well as disparities in how firms cope with the challenges. To investigate our research questions, we will exploit the cross-sectional variation in supply and demand conditions across Germany, which is defined by regional, occupational, and organizational-level factors. Possible strategies employers can use to circumvent recruitment difficulties include downgrading their skill requirements and changing their preferences for certain social groups. Furthermore, they can engage in informal (network-based) recruitment and selection practices. According to previous research, informal hiring practices potentially enrich applicant pools and facilitate good and stable matches. For the empirical analyses, in the first step we will use a special module of a representative employer survey, the BIBB-Establishment Panel on Training and Competence Development (BIBB-Qualifizierungspanel). The special module contains items on recruitment and selection practices and two factorial survey experiments to measure hiring preferences. In the second step, we will investigate whether or not employers' efforts match young people's search strategies by analyzing individual survey data from the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), Starting Cohort 4.