Budding agriculture workers improve their occupational prospects
LOGO (Agriculture and Ecological Balance with Eastern Europe) • Ecological agriculture internships
LOGO e.V. (Agriculture and Ecological Balance with Eastern Europe, registered association) provides future skilled workers and executives in the agricultural sector in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus with the opportunity of completing six- to twelve-month internships at German farms that follow ecological operations.
The practical vocational training provision is augmented by specialised seminars. In addition to and together with the university partners in the co-operating countries, LOGO organises trade conferences and invites groups of interested university lecturers and farmers to attend specialist excursions in Germany. LOGO is represented also in the iMOVE provider pool; the registered association had become aware of iMOVE through existing contacts with the Federal Institute of Vocational Education and Training and via the websites of various German embassies in the partnering countries.
LOGO pursues the goal of sustainably improving the vocational training and continuing education provision for young skilled workers from the partnering countries. Following approval by the Zentrale Auslands- und Fachvermittlung (ZAV - Central International Placement Office), students of agricultural university courses are invited to Germany. Once in Germany, the focus is on the communication of methods and principles of ecological agriculture as well as utilisation of renewable energy sources – always adapted to the framework conditions in the students' countries or regions of origin.
The medium and long term goal is the development of individual departments and main research themes at the partnering universities to further develop these issues on a regional level. This could also result in the creation of occupational prospects for some project participants by their becoming multipliers of what they have learnt in Germany. In the medium to long term the activities aim at the further development of those educational activities that already exist in Germany and the partnering countries and at the launching of new initiatives.
The non-profit organisation LOGO was established by ecologically working farmers in Kassel in 1995. These days, the organisation has 260 members and four employees. The number of interns was 80 in the first year, increased to more than 280 by 2012 and currently consolidates at 230 programme participants. So far, a total of more than 3,200 young people from the partnering countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Moldavia, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan have attended the programmes. This makes LOGO the largest agricultural exchange organisation in Germany with respect to co-operation with Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus.
LOGO currently co-operates with some 70 universities offering agricultural study courses. The training provision for the students takes place at 200 ecologically operating agricultural businesses in Germany. With their membership fees, these businesses finance the intern programme and the organisation's work.
The interns are selected at their home-country universities by members of the organisation. The selection process assesses their theoretical and practical existing knowledge, the student's interest in vocational education and training programmes as well as their knowledge of the German language. However, German as a foreign language is increasingly being superseded by English at the partnering universities. This makes it more difficult to find suitable applicants for the internships in Germany. This is why LOGO is in the process of intensifying its contacts to the German teachers at the universities.
In Germany, supervision is provided by former interns who now live in Germany. They support both the operations managers and interns with their cultural background knowledge and experience.
During their stay in Germany, the programme participants are asked to keep a specifically devised reporting journal to record their work and experience at the agricultural businesses. In summer, LOGO offers the seminar "Ecological Agriculture and Renewable Energy" comprising lectures and excursions. In winter, the interns learn how to prepare for job applications and about the existing study opportunities in Germany in the "Vocational Education and Training" seminar. At the end of these five-day seminars, the imparted knowledge is tested and assessed by a written examination.
At the end of the internship period, LOGO checks the reporting journals and requests appraisals of the interns from the operations managers. These respective grades and the seminar results are recorded in certificates, which by now are held in high regard in the interns' countries of origin and which prove to be very useful for the young people in their further career.
LOGO supports former interns in their subsequent university entry or in their doctoral thesis or career entry. By now, some former interns work as lecturers at the universities in their home countries, where they further disseminate the knowledge acquired in Germany. Others work for German companies in their home countries. Many former interns maintain close ties with the organisation to this day and support its work, for example, as internship supervisors, during company visits and in preparing trade conferences and specialised excursions.
LOGO also supports students from Germany in finding an internship placement in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Some businesses in the partnering countries use English or German. In future, the organisation intends to intensify this form of exchange and aims at increasing its support for projects focusing on ecological agriculture in the partnering countries.
This sucess story was first published in the iMOVE publication Developing Skills for Employability with German Partners • 8 Success Stories from Central and Eastern European Countries and the CIS. The brochure was published in 2014.