Upper Franconia: "Taste the Ausbildung" – a successful IHK pilot project supporting careers guidance

Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) for Bayreuth Upper Franconia adopts a new approach to careers guidance with the pilot project "Taste the Ausbildung" (Taste the Training), and it really has an impact.

"Our aim is to bring together young people and training companies in a way as straightforward and with as much of a practical focus as possible," says Torsten Schmidt, deputy head of vocational education and training at the IHK Bayreuth, Upper Franconia, as he explains the pilot project concept headed up by the IHK. This involves pupils at a lower secondary school in Bayreuth being taken by bus to training companies in the region. There they received information first-hand about the different training occupations and their content, and gained insights into these. The aim in the second stage is to extend the pilot project into further regions and sectors.

On the day of the pilot project, the "Taste the Ausbildung" bus set off en route for stops at the transport and logistics company Emons Spedition GmbH in Himmelkron, the "show kitchen" in MUPÄZ – an organisation in Kumbach comprising three museums under one roof (Museen im Kulmbacher Mönchshof e.V.), and the retailer EDEKA Schneidermarkt in Bindlach. Pupils in the 8th grade at the Albert Schweitzer School in Bayreuth had the opportunity to find out, among other things, about the training occupations of warehouse logistics operator, warehouse operator, driver, chef, restaurant specialist, brewer and maltster, seller, and management assistant for retail services. They also took a tour of a logistics warehouse, made elderflower pressé and mini portions of "Strammer Max" – an open sandwich made of cured ham and fried egg – and saw what everyday life was like for a retailer.

Seeing what happens in practice

Participants and teachers welcomed the idea behind the pilot project. Kristina Jäger, a trainer at Emons Spedition GmbH, had praise in particular for the practical relevance of the initiative. "It is important for young people to take a look at how things work in practice – to get a feel for the training occupations and to experience something practical," explains Jäger. "The impact is entirely different compared to reading something written down." Class teacher Marcus Kellner also supports the idea of getting pupils "away from the sheltered environment of school". "It is important that young people get an idea of working life, that they can see the reason for the education and training they're doing in school," explains Kellner who was accompanying the project. The cooking sessions presented by Alexander Schütz and the team (from the Restaurant Ursprung, Gasthof Berghof in Presseck) in the show kitchen at MUPÄZ Kulmbach, were proof of the positive effect a practical demonstration can have. Following the event, two of the pupils involved said they could imagine training to become a chef despite never having thought about this training occupation before. Pupil Noël Jacob was therefore also keen for the project to be continued. "It may give ideas about training for people who perhaps have not yet found the right thing for them."

Each individual represents a win

"Each individual young person who we are able to attract into training via the project is also a win for the region," explains Schmidt, aware of the fall in training applications which many businesses are complaining about. On the one hand, he explains, this is due to the impact of the pandemic, since this limited the extent to which careers guidance was possible for pupils. There is, however, also the trend towards academisation which has been evident for a number of years. "The notion of academic training being the only route to professional success is not correct. Vocational training impresses with its high level of practical relevance, superb continuing vocational education and training options and financial independence. Vocational training does not close any doors, it opens them," explains Schmidt.

This is precisely where the IHK pilot project "Taste the Ausbildung" comes in. The aim is to help pupils in the final year classes understand the large number of benefits from training and to illustrate these with specific examples from practice. "Practice not theory" – this is the policy of the careers guidance concept. The IHK makes contact with the training businesses and schools and organises the visits. The concept enables an exchange of information between potential applicants and training companies, and enables contact to be made, without major organisational hurdles. "Young people are able to gain information without committing themselves and get a taste of some of the occupations, and the training companies are able to present the general framework of their training offer to the target group directly," says the head of vocational education and training at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, explaining the benefits of the concept. "If people are interested then initial informal discussions can be had right there on site."

The pilot project "Taste the Ausbildung" is a further initiative of the campaign "Wir sagen Ja zur Ausbildung" (We Say Yes to Training) which the Chamber of Industry and Commerce is using to call for support in strengthening of vocational education and training. 

Source: wiesentbote.de (website of the magazine Wisentbote), revised by iMOVE, March 2022