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BERLIN (AP) — An association representing Germany’s trades says the number of migrants doing apprenticeships more than doubled last year.

The ZDH association said Thursday that in 2017 its members had about 11,000 apprentices from eight countries that represent the majority of refugees in Germany, including Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

A year earlier the number of apprentices from those countries was about 4,600.

The most popular apprenticeships include automotive technician, plant mechanic and hairdresser.

Germany’s apprenticeship system is highly regarded as a bridge between school and a profession, but a drop in the birth rate and a rise in people going to university has caused a shortage of apprentices in recent years.