Talent programme opens up the full range of continuing education and training for pastry cook

"Stiftung Begabtenförderung" celebrates 25 years.

Its continuing education and training scholarship means it can also support talented individuals from the craft trades. Florentine Hübscher, for example, used it to finance her master craftsperson qualification.

The "German foundation for the promotion of talent in vocational education and training" [Stiftung Begabtenförderung berufliche Bildung, SBB] celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2021. The continuing education and training scholarship – the programme which the SBB has brought to the public's attention – is five years older. "Providing targeted support to top performers in an occupation is a worthwhile investment – both for those receiving support and for the German economy," explains Wolf Dieter Bauer.

The SBB director and his team coordinate the nationwide continuing education and training scholarship from Bonn. He has been there from the start. "Many scholarship holders have impressive training careers. The initial impetus was their vocational education and training, and the continuing training following this often marks the start of their lifelong learning."

Scholarship as a performance incentive

So far, over 150,000 talented young people with vocational education and training have received support via the grant from funds provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Florentine Hübscher is one of them. In the summer of 2017, the pastry cook completed her training. She heard about the talent programme from a colleague during her apprenticeship at the Klinkmüller pâtisserie in Luckau (Brandenburg). "I practised a lot after work. The scholarship was an extra motivation for me to really put the effort in and pass the examination with the best possible mark."

Requirements for applicants

In order to be able to apply for a continuing education and training scholarship, applicants must meet one of three requirements. They must have passed the final examination with a minimum mark of 87, or better than "good"; they must have finished among the top three in a national occupational competition, or the employer or the vocational school must put them forward due to an exceptional skill they have. Florentine Hübscher met two of the criteria. "I completed my training with the grade of 'good' and came second in the Moll Marzipan cup."

New insights and inspiration

The vocational educational training authority where the training contract was registered supports the application process; for Florentine Hübscher this was the Cottbus Chamber of Crafts and Trades. Just a few months after successfully completing the journeymen examination, she was accepted onto the talent programme as a scholarship holder.

"I immediately booked myself onto a one-day tart course with Matthias Mittermeier in Neu-Ulm," she recalls. Then everything happened very quickly. Next on the agenda, one month later, were "dragées and tartlets" in a course run by Fabian Sänger at the academy of the Berlin Confectioners' Guild. Shortly after this, it was off for two days to Cologne. At the Chocolate Academy, Matthias Fuchs imparts his knowledge of “tartlets and macaroons” to the attendees. "Due to my training company, I’m heavily influenced to buy French patisserie. The courses have given me further insights and inspiration."

Time running out for master craftsman school

In 2018 Florentine Hübscher moved abroad. She spent six months in both Canada and Austria. In Vienna, she finally decided it was time for the master craftsmen qualification. "If I don't do it with the scholarship, then I'll never do it" – she was certain of this. Especially since time was short.

The scholarship lasts for three years. By the end of the year abroad, only one third of the funding period remained. "I was still interested in the Austrian equivalent to the German master pastry cook, but the 'Zuckerbäcker' course [literally translated as sugar baker] unfortunately couldn't be funded through the continuing education and training scholarship," says Florentine with regret. After doing some of her own research, she finally enrolled at the master craftsman school in Berlin. 

Scholarship covers many of the costs

She managed to fund a good part of the costs of the training courses and examinations, and also of travel and food via the continuing education and training scholarship, and the rest via the upgrading grant. The talent programme requires that scholarship holders cover ten percent of the costs themselves. "The scholarship is excellent", is the verdict of the master pastry cook. However, she also sees areas for improvement.

Increasing the age limit for scholarship holders

In her opinion, even more could be done to promote the continuing education and training scholarship. It was not clear to her, she explains, that the scholarship didn’t need to be applied for immediately after passing the journeyman examination, but instead can be applied for up to three years after this. The age limit of 24 could also be reconsidered. "The top three in our year were women who had already studied before their training. They were no longer even eligible for the continuing education and training scholarship."

Continuing education and training scholarship

The continuing education and training scholarship from the German foundation for the promotion of talent in VET is targeted in particular at successful graduates completing dual vocational education and training. From the craft trades, for example, the following can apply for the continuing education and training scholarship: opticians, bakers, roofers, electronics technicians, specialist sales persons, precision machinists, butchers, hairdressers, glaziers, hearing aid acousticians, installers and heating fitters, vehicle mechatronics technicians, pastry cooks, painters and varnishers, custom tailors, masons and concreters, joiners, dental technicians and carpenters. The support also enables various forms of advanced training to be funded, such as the master craftsmen or specialist qualifications, but also a degree alongside a job. The level of funding can be up to €8,100 over a maximum of three years (as of October 2021). 

Scholarship opens up new pathways

Florentine Hübscher has had the master craftsman certificate under her belt since summer 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, she soon started to think about her own professional future. She didn't have the capital to start up her own business. She was not able to find an adequately paid position as a master craftswoman in North Brandenburg. She therefore switched her focus.

Internship with a specialist publisher

The craft trades held on to the 27-year-old, however only indirectly. At the start of the year, she began an internship with the Deutschen Fachverlag (DFV) media company. The DFV’s media group publishes the Allgemeine BäckerZeitung (General Bakers’ Newspaper) and the trade magazine "Konditorei & Café" for pastry shops, confectionery shops, cafés and ice cream parlours "You have an entirely different take on the industry if you yourself have got up at two in the morning and been stood in the bakery from 4 am," explains the master pastry cook. 

The master craftsman certificate is something tangible

The internship lasts for two years. As she sees it, fate will determine what happens next. "Everybody wants to get somewhere with the master craftsman certificate, but sometimes you discover new pathways on this journey." However, with the master craftsman certificate she has achieved something tangible. "I am very grateful to the SBB for opening up the full range of continuing education and training to me through the scholarship."

Craft trades success story

The craft trades have been working with the German foundation for the promotion of talent in vocational education and training (VET) for 25 years. "Over this period we've been able to support many crafts people on their professional career paths with scholarships. As a result, we've been able to help write a whole series of occupational success stories," explains Dr. Volker Born, head of the VET department at the German Central Association of Skilled Trades (ZDH). "We want to continue with this and keep moving forward together in the future, and we want to reach significantly more people with the funding."

Source: handwerksblatt.de (magazine of the German skilled crafts sector), revised by iMOVE, April 2022