A German Initiative to Keep Workers Employed by Retraining Them

When Emrullah Karaca began working at a factory in Gifhorn, Germany, where the auto parts supplier Continental builds components for hydraulic brakes, he was looking for a temporary job after finishing high school.

But after spending more than two decades building a career at the factory, Mr. Karaca, a 49-year-old father of three, learned that Continental planned to close the plant by 2027. Facing a daunting job hunt, he will head back to school to earn his trade certificate, courtesy of his employer.

It’s a necessary step if he wants to find a job in Germany, where despite a desperate lack of skilled workers, degrees and certification still count more than on-the-job experience. “I never needed it until now, because I was always here,” Mr. Karaca said.

The training program that Mr. Karaca and 80 of his co-workers will undergo is part of an initiative started by Continental aimed at helping employees acquire the skills they need for new jobs, either within Continental or at companies nearby.

Continental is not alone in facing the challenges of Germany’s shifting industrial landscape, as manufacturing transforms to meet low-carbon goals, creating upheaval in the work force. So in 2021, it joined 70 other companies — including Bayer, DHL, Infineon and Siemens — to form the Alliance for Opportunity, an initiative intended to help them hold on to the 2.7 million people in their collective work force.

Emrullah Karaca, 49, began working at Continental when he was in high school.Credit…Patrick Junker for The New York Times

Back to top button