Like many other sectors, e-commerce is also groaning under an acute shortage of skilled workers. In comparison to other industries, however, e-commerce has a hard time simply because there is no classical training for this subject, nor does a specific course of study fully concentrate on it.

E-commerce can thus be described as an industry of lateral entrants. In a survey by BEVH (Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland), 54% of all e-commerce companies surveyed stated that they can no longer cover their personnel requirements in Germany alone and must recruit from abroad. As a result, tens of thousands of vacancies in German e-commerce agencies are unfilled or misfilled in many respects.

In order to counteract this acute shortage of skilled workers and also the problem of lateral entrants, there will finally be the new training occupation”e-commerce clerk” in the dual training system for the coming training year 2018/19. This long overdue step was presented today on 31.01.2018 by the IHK Berlin and the BEVH. I myself attended this event and would like to share my positive and sometimes very negative impressions.

Ambitious IHK, well thought-out role of the BEVH & comprehensive framework plan

Mr. Groß-Albenhausen of the BEVH presented in great detail what goal is to be achieved with the new training occupation: Business people in e-commerce should be able to act as an interface between all participating departments (e.g. IT and graphics) and to independently understand, manage and design all processes in an e-commerce company.

I believe that this qualification as a businessman/woman in e-commerce will be well received by all industry representatives. The training is divided into the following sub-areas:

  • Online marketing channels
  • Application systems
  • Designing the online shopping experience
  • Development of the range of goods and services
  • Online advertising and customer retention
  • Shop online
  • Offering customer service on the Internet
  • Carrying out projects independently and responsibly
  • Developing new business ideas entrepreneurially

The lecture also contained many anecdotes from the planning of this new training occupation and it was made clear why this will only be achieved now in 2018. Finally, one must not forget that education in Germany is still a “state matter” and that 16 ministries of education must therefore agree on a uniform timetable.

Afterwards Mrs. Katrin Engel from the IHK Berlin went into the training itself and the requirements a little more concretely The topics “Who is suitable for this profession, who may train and what are the examination contents” were addressed. Very well prepared and, above all, clearly differentiated from the previous training occupations.

I have to admit that I went to this event with relatively few expectations, but I was positively surprised by the commitment of the BEVH with quite right approaches to the curriculum.

Conditions in vocational school remote from practice

Unfortunately, there were no satisfactory answers, at least not for the Berlin location, to the question of whether the responsible vocational school is prepared for this, especially when it comes to digital equipment. What an irony, Berlin is considered the”Start-Up Capital of Europe” and nowhere else can you find more “digital companies” in Germany like here. However, when it comes to public administration and therefore also to the local Ministry of Education, is”digital”, “innovative”, “progressive” & “future-oriented” not much to feel anymore.

At the moment, even the vocational school has not even been determined and it looks like the teaching staff from the training occupation “Wholesale and foreign trade clerk” will take the lead. According to the framework plan, the block “Implementing and evaluating online marketing measures” is scheduled to last a full 120 hours in the second year of training. These include topics such as search engine optimization, advertising or affiliate marketing. In the 3rd year of training, the block “Select online sales channels” has 100 hours. That would be 2020 at the earliest.

What am I getting at? When I asked how someone from the field of “Wholesale and Foreign Trade” should give meaningful teaching content from the field of “Search Engine Optimization”, it was said that the teachers at the BEVH would receive one-off training before the coming training year. Well, if that’s enough. After all, this teacher should always deal with current topics, such as which online sales channel should be current in 2020 or which SEO measures will be important in 2019.

Since future e-commerce specialists will be trained by teachers who are not specialized, it can be assumed that a company-neutral training at vocational school is not to be expected. I therefore think that the quality of the training is primarily determined by the company.

Upshot

As a shopware agency in e-commerce, we naturally have a very great interest in sufficient specialist personnel in the industry and thus also in this new training occupation. Of course I am a little sad about the conditions in the area of vocational school in Berlin, but this does not have to be the case in every federal state.

In any case, the “e-commerce merchant” must not only be given a chance, but actively supported. Since we at Pixup Media have a passion for e-commerce, I see it as my own duty as a certified IHK training company to lead by example. On the operational side, this means conveying practical content as well as possible on the basis of the framework plan and acting as critically (and yet constructively) as possible if there is not the desired progress on the school side.

However, our industry has now received a bit more appreciation: We now also have our own apprenticed profession!

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