Why should I choose an apprenticeship in the hospitality industry?

Alexandra Stangl checks the numbers in the booking program: 227 guests will arrive today. She smooths her gray-red costume, a man steps up to the reception desk, apparently he's on business. Stangl greets him with a smile and speaks fluent English. Your voice is friendly and calm, after less than a minute the check-in is done and the guest leaves satisfied. The 18-year-old is in her third year of training as a hotel manager and has been at the reception of the Hilton Hotel at Munich Airport for two weeks, from 6.30 a.m. to 3 p.m., sometimes on weekends.

Alexandra Stangl grew up with the profession, so to speak. "At home in Eichenried near Erding," she says, her grandmother already had an inn. As a child she was allowed to watch her at work. In 2016, the young woman started dual training and is therefore a valuable commodity on the industry's job market because it is becoming increasingly rare.

In the past ten years, the number of apprenticeships in the hospitality industry has more than halved: While there were 107,000 apprentices in 2007, the number of apprenticeship contracts had shrunk to just over 53,000 by 2017. According to the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), not even half of the hotels and restaurants were able to fill their training positions last year.

There are several reasons for this, not all of which are industry-specific, says Sandra Warden, responsible for the labor market and training at the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga). Around 2005, more trainees were hired than necessary, says Warden: "We wanted to counteract the youth unemployment at the time." The slump in the numbers is thus to some extent a return to normal levels. In addition, the demographic change is clearly noticeable in the decline in school leavers. At the same time, more and more students want to study instead of starting dual training. "That intensifies the competition for apprentices," says Warden. In this competition, the hotel industry is having a harder time than other sectors: "For many young people, training in an office is more attractive than service or craft."

In addition, there is the usual evening and weekend work in the hotel industry and the wages that are not exactly generous. According to the tariff, the gross starting salary of a trained hotel specialist is between 1,639 and 2,168 euros, without allowances, depending on the federal state. On average, the remuneration in training starts at 675 euros in the first year and increases to 869 euros in the third year - these figures have been calculated by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) in Bonn.

"Somebody has to answer again"

"You just have to love the job. Nobody will decide to do it just because of the money," says Attila Solymár, examining the glass shower wall in hotel room 5223 at the Hilton Munich Airport with a keen eye. He points with his finger at two or three small water stains - they would hardly be visible to the layman. In addition, a sachet of sugar is missing from the minibar. "Somebody has to answer it again," he mumbles and gives instructions over his phone. The 30-year-old is head of the housekeeping department. As a "supervisor" he checks "80 rooms a day". The cleaning is done by an external company; Solymár and his colleagues only control.

Attila Solymár only started his apprenticeship at the age of 20 - as a "late bloomer", as he says. He only worked in Vienna for a few years; the next career steps were reached within a short time. "With more international experience, it would have been even faster," says the hotel specialist. From the former class of his vocational school - they were about 30 people at the time - a good half no longer work in the hotel industry. He doesn't know why, but he is happy to be employed by a large employer. You can celebrate overtime quickly: "It's more coordinated here. I don't know the bad stories that others tell."