bulgarian apprentices

Chef Apprentices


A look at young apprentices in Germany.


Lederhosen hardly typical
attire apprenticeship room and board
cover (2) employer employee
once twice feel (2)
nice opportunity all the time
join fellow take care
extra roast reputation
communicate train trainee
own/owner search prove
fruit fruitless dedicated
hard-working disciplined sometimes
mixed-up bit (2) organized
disorganized busy clear up
considered chef overworked
overpaid underpaid however
relative relatively high
status except back home
ideal wage low
condition fun funny
earn rough roughly (2)
same different qualified
graduate appealing put off
weekend always part
rural part applicant
placement aging population
factor program recruit
abroad technician instal/installation
hail although barrier
designed attend dialect
manager master slave
to master technical terminology
crucial slow fast
understand vocation difficult
easy tend skip
certain mentality off to town
day off practice local
settle project intend
instead temporary import
export labor foreign
aim country (2) wanted
feel at home





Bavarian Restaurant

Lederhosen are hardly typical attire for a Bulgarian — but they are here in Bavaria. Last year the 20-year old began an apprenticeship at this restaurant. His room and board are covered. And his employer also flies him home to his family twice a year.

“It feels nice when I have the opportunity to communicate with my parents via the internet or Facebook so they don’t have to be here all the time,” said Daniel Maglov, a restaurant apprentice.

He’s joined in the kitchen by two fellow Bulgarians; they’re old friends of his from school days.

The Restaurant Owner

Roswitha Zippert, restaurant owner, instructs them.

“You need to take extra care with the roast. We have a reputation, and this is going to be a test of that.”

A lot of the dishes and the way they are cooked are new to the trainee chefs.

The owner’s earlier search for German applicants proved fruitless.

“I’m very happy with them,” said Roswitha. “They’re dedicated, hard working, and disciplined. Sometimes things get a bit mixed up and disorganized when we get busy. But you just have to tell them to clear up and they do.”

Working Conditions

Chefs in Germany are considered overworked and underpaid. For many Bulgarians however, the profession has a relatively high status, except the opportunities back home are not ideal.

“You can become a chef there . . . but the wages are low and the conditions are bad . . . it isn’t much fun,” explained Daniel.

In Germany they earn 400 euros a month in their first year as apprentices. That’s roughly the same that a professionally qualified chef gets in Bulgaria.

Office Jobs

For many German high school graduates, an office job is more appealing.

“I think they are put off by having to work on weekends, or even on a birthday or Christmas,” said Roswitha. “Not always, but those are the conditions.”

One to Ten

In this part of rural Bavaria, there’s just one native applicant for every ten placements. The aging population is a factor here.

Danial and Matei are part of a new program designed to recruit trainees from abroad.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Installation Firm

Milen Marinov is training to become a technician in an installation firm. Like the three men in the restaurant, he hails from the Bulgarian city of Bougas.

It’s a job he likes, although there is the language barrier. Twice a week, he attends a German class, paid for by his employer.

Learning German

Milen Marinov spoke no German when he came here. Now he can; and he even speaks some Bavarian dialect,” said Heinrich Gottinger, Training Manager at YIT.

But his job also involves mastering technical terminology, crucial on-the-job vocabulary.

“Vocational school is difficult,” said Milen. “But it’s okay when I’m working here. I learn new words every day.”

“We have to speak slower so they can understand us,” said Heinrich. “We Bavarians tend to skip certain words — it’s part of our mentality.”

Day Off

The apprentices are off to the town center on their day off. They best way to learn a new language is to practice it with local people.

The trainees have now settled in Bavaria, just as the new project intended. Instead of being temporary, imported labor, working in a foreign country, the aim is for the Bulgarian trainees to feel wanted here — and at home.

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1. What is lederhosen? Describe lederhosen.

2. The restaurant sponsors the Bulgarian apprentices. Yes or no? If yes, give examples.

3. Does Daniel stay in contact with his family?

4. Are the trainees from different parts of Bulgaria?

5. The restaurant owner is strict. Do you agree?

6. German cuisine and food is the same as Bulgarian cuisine and food. True or false?

7. The owner didn’t hire Native Germans. Why didn’t she hire locals?

8. Do the Bulgarians prefer working in Bulgaria or Germany? Why?

9. What is the pay for the apprentices? Is that a permanent salary?

10. Did the trainees come to Germany, then found work?

11. What is important to succeed at the installation firm?

12. How does Milen train and improve?

13. What is the long-term goal of the program?
A. Were you and your friends apprentices or trainees? Did you go through an apprenticeship program?

B. Did you attend a vocational or technical college?

C. I work in aboard. Yes or no? If yes, how do you feel?

D. Are there many migrant workers in your city?

E. Is there a problem or challenge with work, training, pay, unemployment and skills shortage?

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