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Vocational orientation in the practice workshop

New incentive programme of the Federal Government

Christine Noske

With its "advancement through education" training initiative the German Federal Government set itself the goal of enabling all talents to thrive and opening up opportunities of promotion for everyone. The "Vocational orientation in inter-company and comparable vocational education and training facilities" programme launched by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in April 2008 is making an important contribution to the attainment of that goal. The programme is being coordinated and scientifically monitored by the BIBB.

Discovering individual proclivities and talents

Starting in grade eight, students in the schools of general education have the chance to get to know three different occupations and try out the specific occupational activities in practice for two weeks (80 hours in all) in an inter-company vocational training facility or comparable educational facility. They make workpieces that they take home with them at the end of that period as the presentable product of their work. They are instructed and individually monitored in the workshops by master trainers.

This is preceded by a so-called competence check in which the young people become aware of their individual predilections and can test their aptitude for manual work. At the end of the two-week vocational orientation, each young person receives a certificate covering the work done with conclusions about proclivities and aptitudes, perseverance, thoroughness and capacity for teamwork. The certificate is of great importance as a guide for the young persons, their parents and teachers and especially for companies looking for a trainee.

Many students discover their delight in practical activity during vocational orientation. At the same time, their understanding of the purpose of learning grows and with it their motivation to pay attention in class and exert themselves. Some weak and unmotivated young people manage to improve their grades and pass their final examinations as a result. A training occupation chosen knowledgably and in inner harmony can be expected to be completed successfully, so that the number of trainee dropouts will sink.

Prevention rather than repair

In 2006, 76,000 young people, or 7.8 per cent of all lower secondary school leavers, left school without a certificate of graduation. While the majority of young people have a formal school leaving certificate, many lower secondary school leavers have striking personality and education deficits. Their lack of the maturity needed to complete a course of training successfully means that it is hard for them to get an apprenticeship. A variety of measures have been attempted in the past to promote the insertion of repeat applicants and young people with so-called market disadvantages into the primary labour market. Almost half a million young people spend their formative years in schemes that offer no usable graduation certificates and hence no occupational prospects. Although wait loops and transitional systems keep down the proportion of these young people in the total number of unemployed, many of them end up stigmatised and in a worse position than before.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research wants to take a different path here with its programme for promoting "Vocational orientation in inter-company and comparable vocational education and training facilities": young people should be assisted in choosing an occupation before rather than after they leave school.

Letzte Änderung: 08/31/2009

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Herausgeber: Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB)
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