The Vocational Orientation Programme is aimed at pupils in Years 7 and 8. The young people start by exploring their strengths in a potential analysis and then test them out during workshop days in various vocational fields.
For many pupils in the Vocational Orientation Programme (BOP), it is the first time they consider the question: “What sort of a job do I want to do in the future?” Getting young people to think about this issue is precisely what the programme aims to do.
When participating in the BOP, young people develop their ideas about which career they might like to follow and what might be the right placement for them. The programme consists of two parts – the potential analysis which is then followed by the workshop days.
Pupils explore their strengths in the potential analysis. Rather than determining a specific career path for young people, it opens up their minds to potential opportunities. The individual and group tasks are a core element. Educational specialists observe and support the young people as they work on solving these tasks.
Imagine producing something yourself in a workshop – this is precisely what the pupils are able to do during the workshop days. For example, working with wood to produce a chest or sewing together a piece of clothing. In addition to the craft trades and technology, they also have the opportunity to explore the service sector which includes administration, health care, cosmetics, logistics and hospitality.
The workshop days in the Vocational Orientation Programme do not take place in companies but instead in inter-company vocational training centres (ICVTCs) or comparable institutions. Their training workshops offer the ideal environment for the workshop days.
The programme entitled “Supporting vocational orientation in inter-company vocational training centres and comparable VET centres” – also referred to as the Vocational Orientation Programme – was created by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2008. The level of grant funding approved by the start of 2017 was around €480 million. This means that, from 2008 to the summer of 2018 over 1.2 million pupils have been involved in the programme. More than 300 training centres with more than 3000 schools are involved across Germany as cooperation partners in the BOP.
The educational approach and the potential analysis and workshop days, which are deployed as tools within the Vocational Orientation Programme, represent the initial link in the national “Education Chains Initiative” in Germany. This seeks to provide young people with a smooth transition from school into work.
Vocational orientation is also especially important for young refugees. Not only do they need to understand their own professional prospects but they also have to familiarise themselves with our education and training system and with our world of work. They are able to take part in the “normal” vocational orientation programme in general education school classes. In some federal states, the Vocational Orientation Programme also supports vocational orientation for refugees in vocational schools as part of the education chain agreements.
Together with the Federal Employment Agency and The German Confederation of Skilled Crafts, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research also launched the programme “Career Orientation for Refugees” (BOF) as part of the qualification initiative “Routes into training for refugees” in 2016. In more than 70 skilled craft inter-company vocational training centres, young refugees learn in detail about training occupations as part of workshop days and placements. In parallel with this they receive German tuition and social and education support, and receive help at the end in gaining a position in a training company.
The training and labour market in Germany is still divided in terms of gender. Ideas regarding occupational suitability are closely linked with stereotypical gender roles. As a result, young people restrict themselves to specific occupations during vocational orientation. This can lead to structural, economic and personal disadvantages. The Vocational Orientation Programme offers gender-sensitive orientation in terms of career and course of study so that the choice young people make later when selecting their occupation or areas of study is not determined by conventional gender stereotypes, but is instead made according to individual capabilities. As part of this, life planning must also be involved at an early stage in the decision making.
The initiative “Klischeefrei” [cliché free] also plays a role in this. The initiative is an alliance between education and training, policy-making, business and research, and it campaigns for career and study choices to be made free from gender stereotypes. The initiative is aimed at everybody who supports the process of young people making career and study choices.
The Klischeefrei initiative was established in 2014 by the Federal Ministries for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) and of Education and Research (BMBF). Elke Büdenbender is patron of the initiative. Initiative partners now include five federal ministries, several federal state ministries, the Federal Employment Agency, various social partners, and representatives from academia, practice and business.