Berlin study visit – notes by Michael Hallissy. Day 3, 14 January 2015

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We met at the Deutsche Telekom building and were met by Mrs. Mirrek. She was accompanied by her colleague and 2 students.


  • 484 students in training
  • Dual students – study at the university and in Telecom
  • 33 centres in Germany


11 kinds of traineeship within Deutsche Telekom and these can be divided into two categories:

  • Technical
  • Business

Application development and system electronics are a major focus


They have a speciality in the field of System Electronics

  • Finish after 4 years – students can apply for university


Business oriented trainees – Focus on Communications and Marketing

  • Attract women to these kinds of traineeships


Differences between Telekom and other traineeships

  • Emphasis on the individual competences of the trainees
  • Agree to goals
  • Individualised training
  • An attempt is made to respond to the individual student needs


Applying for Traineeships

  • Application process begins 1 year ahead
    • There are 3 full time members of Telecom reviewing the applications
    • Individual interviews and group interviews
    • The applicants have to make a Presentation
    • In all cases a trainer is present at these assessments
    • They seek to establish if the individual is appropriate
    • Workforce representative is also present at the interviews
    • They attempt to reach a common agreement
    • Final decision is made by the board


Criteria in selecting the traineeships

Important to safeguard fairness for trainees

  • Honesty and earnest is what they are looking for
    • Want to ascertain that people are really interested
    • What kind of person is the applicant?
    • Very cooperative process – they work with management and those participating in the final decision
  • Not just interested in the grades from schools. They are interested in the applicants’:
    • Team abilities
    • Cooperate
    • Communicate
    • Soft skills
    • Technical interests play a role
      • The final decision is not just based on marks
  • Why do you look for other criteria?
  • Mrs Merrick stated that:
    • Just because someone has all 1s (top mark in school exams) doesn’t mean they will have good customer skills
    • You can always learn the technical skills
    • They don’t want people who want to stand out from others and are competitive
    • They want team players


  • How do they identify these skills? [My Question]


Special types of courses that they offer:

  • Single parents special programmes
  • Special preparation courses for dropout students
    • Individual preparation
    • 1 year programme
    • Prepare them to enter traineeships later
    • Enter the job market
      • Vocational qualification are very important
      • Basic training provided
    • Telecom provides an opportunity for young peoples to engage in work and not to be a burden on the state


Not using psychological tests as they rely on their own initiative to identify these key criteria


Why these competences and how do they identify them?


Deutsche Telekom looked for marks only when selecting trainees just a few years ago but this has now changed.

  • There is now Job differentiation within DT – and they need a variety of people
  • They need a mix of skillsets and qualifications so they need both highly skilled and low skilled:
    • Higher level students now [highly qualified technical people]
    • Large numbers of employees who will perform simple jobs. Look after low level jobs
  • Variety of jobs is the main driver for this change in recruitment
  • Not just interested in high flyers but those who will integrate themselves into the company
  • Advantage of DT is the size and variety of jobs
    • During the application process they recognise some people are not suited to the job they are applying for so they try to help them
    • Sometimes they redirect the person into an appropriate job or role within DT



  • Good but not essential
  • This is not a differentiator in getting a traineeship


They are not waiting for applications. DT has a number of cooperative schools and they familiarise young people with the jobs they offer so that students are familiar with the work they are engaged in. School placements are offered by DT. If they see someone at this stage that they think is suitable to the company during this phase they will identify them for a traineeship. They also have orientation programmes for teachers and parents –and this is an active process. They get involved in ensuring they have high level students and don’t leave this to chance.


Selection Process

Mrs. Merrick then expanded on how they go about selecting young people to work in the company and it usually revolves around scenarios where they can observe how the person copes with a particular situation or scenario. Here is an example:

  • Designed tasks for the ground
    • Selling pens
  • They have observers who observe how the trainees interact during the task
  • They take people out for 20 minutes and they observe how the person responds and the group responds when they are returned to the situation
  • They take out the leaders and observe how the other people react
  • They want to see how they react to the disturbances [when they are out of their comfort zone]
    • They want to see how they align themselves to the situation?


Other Questions that arose at this stage:

How do they link in with the trainee colleges? Do they input into how the trainees are developed outside of DT?

Do they expect the Colleges to develop these skills among the trainees?


They used to have online tests to select trainees but they found that the family were assisting in the completion of the tests and thus the results were invalid and a waste of time.

  • An indicator that their approach is working is the low level of dropouts within the programme
  • Very few drop out as it identifies the right people
  • You need more technical ability than just having a computer at home
  • You need to be interested in technical issues


One of the trainees then gave us further information on how he is pursuing further qualifications in his own time that is related to work. We also heard similar stories yesterday in the Charité.


FS SET (Extra Qualification)

  • He is studying for extra technical qualifications
  • Many of the trainees have university entrance qualifications and they:
  • Need to be motivated
  • Intellectual ability to learn on your own [self-directed learning is key]
  • Need some technical knowledge – you have done things
  • Demands are high in the courses
    • Not a good level of technical knowledge
    • Intrinsic motivation and to learn for yourself
    • Need to work on your own


TRAINER – how the training is organised?

We then had an input from the trainer in relation to how the training was organised


How the training is organised?

  • Legal requirements
  • Company Needs


Evaluating curriculum of the schools

  • Individualised Training plan are agreed
  • Training agreement between trainer and trainee
  • Within the company DT has a range of places and jobs – not just one time of work
    • Variety of individual components and locations
    • Doesn’t happen in one place
    • The trainer must guarantee that the trainee is brought to the right section at the right time. They must be prepared to succeed.

4 Dimensions of Training

  • Technical
  • Methodological – developing working and thinking methods
  • Subject competency
  • Social competency

All 4 are developed over time during the training programme


Who writes the curriculum?

  • Every profession covered by a Federal Law that lays out who can prepare people for the profession. The chamber of commerce has a role and the company in the general framework but the company can include specific elements.

All students will have a core set of knowledge and some will have extra courses from others in other subjects outside the formal curriculum laid down in law (e.g. DT, overseas study, extra courses, Spanish)

DT and the OSZ have agreed that Spanish is important

  • It is not assessed at the end but it is covered because it is deemed important
  • The partnerships decide on what needs to be covered
  • When and how is left up to the college


  • They have partnerships with a range of colleges because they have a range of professions
  • The College and the Company constantly monitor students
  • Also monitor the curriculum and they eliminate or include new elements as needed
  • The core is fixed but the extras are agreed
  • Matthias has a long relationship with Mr. ? and they chat regularly


  • Interaction


  • Faculty engage with the company
  • DT comes to the College
  • At the end of the probation period a joint meeting of faculty and company meet then they make a joint decision
  • Trainers input in the assessments
  • Absents are reported to the company
    • There is monitoring all the time
    • Strong interaction
  • More complicated within small companies
    • But the College engages with such companies and they discuss progress and issues with them
    • Including giving advice to the company


Cooperation at the entry stage

    • Cooperative schools that they engage with
    • They offer 3 week placements for the school people
    • Very flexible approach
    • Provide them with an overview of the profession, showing the facilities etc.
    • Applying later for a traineeship can be an advantage
    • 90 Traineeships and 60 in dual studying courses (studies funded by DT and they are at university level not vocational)
  • Quotas and general agreements with the trade unions in the background
    • Trade Unions are strong in German
    • Agreement with the Service Union – the contract states that 2.9% will be employed later on
    • DT take on about 10% of their trainees after training
    • Contract with unions ends 2016 and it is not clear what will be agreed
    • But DT is training more than the 2.9% at present
    • Today the quota is very decisive
    • This is a general percentage – it is a national figure
    • It is a percentage and not a number
    • 12,000 trainees in Germany at the moment



The variety of workplaces and the challenges of finding appropriate placements for trainees:

  • He needs to coordinate these workplaces – needs to identify the needs of the workplace and to convince a section to take a trainee and to support them once they work in their section
  • This can be challenging to find appropriate placements
  • Enormous number of traineeships in Berlin because they work with 6 different colleges and there is great variety across the colleges


How does DT link in with the 6 colleges?

  • If students are not doing well then the College is obliged to contact DT
  • DT has a place on the Governing Body of the OSZ
  • Informal meetings take place regularly between them
  • Formal meetings also take place and these involve the School and the Company [4 person group] and a protocol was signed


What happens if the trainee or the company have concerns over the content being taught?

Do staff from the College come here on work experience?


They try to resolve any issues they might have informally or between department heads


Training people to work in Office Management

  • DT moved their entire professional training component to a new college
  • This is a disaster for the College concerned


Internships for teaching faculty

  • Workshops for teachers introducing trainee concept to their partners
    • Explaining the process
    • Technical workshops


How should the partnership be improved?

  • System electronics has been restructured
    • Lot of collaboration in designing the curriculum
    • Easy when you have to deal with only 1 company
    • DT major partner yet other smaller companies are in the college who have diverse needs and interests
    • Frustration for the college as well – trying to meet the needs of a variety of partners
      • What do you do and how do you it well when you are stretched thinly


  • Representatives of the Trainees
    • Their focus is on whether the company is meeting the framework laid down by law
    • Worry is that the focus often is too narrow for trainees in work and the full potential of the profession is not being experienced during work placement
    • They encourage the company to increase the variety and number of trainings
    • They want to ensure the training is meaningful and ultimately prepare the young person for the world of work


  • Trainee
    • Ideal case is that the theoretical teaching should match the workplace experience:
      • Either the theory is too complex or the workplace is different to what was taught
      • Trainees can normally cope with this
      • Gap is sometimes very large in a very small company
      • DT has major opportunities for trainees


The DT Programme

  • Variety of work placements – there are online tools to define and outline the work plan of the trainee
  • Trainee can input into the plan in the areas they want more training in
  • Trainee can make a case for such training
  • Company sets out a plan
    • Trainee can and should reflect on this plan and see where they need additional skills


Trainee Side

  • Many don’t know what is the content they should learn and this then prevents them in evaluating what they need to learn and where there are gaps in their knowledge and skills
  • There can be a knowledge gap for the trainee


Originally the trainer was a knowledge expert and you learned from him

  • This is no longer the case
  • Core element is now methodological knowledge
  • The role of the trainer is to provide more ‘peer coaching’; and in supporting the learning process
  • In smaller companies you learn from your mentor – usually smaller skills


Education and management processes are at the core of this role in the company

  • Professional knowledge can be developed once a trainee arrives at the right place in the company and they begin to work


If there are deficits within knowledge for college students

  • The college can offer extra tuition
    • But it depends on either the company and/or the student
    • Both the college and company want the trainees to succeed and to experience good cooperation


IT Certificate exams are paid for by the company

  • They may have to fight for the funding within the company for this


One needs the courage to try something new and innovate

  • FS Sep – plan ready in June. Extra training only takes place in Berlin – it does not take place in other centres
  • Company paid the Cisco exams and they now only pay the 1st exam
  • Innovations take place all the time – courage and competence to deliver these changes
  • Courage from the company


Trainees Role and Expectations

  • Teaching is not sufficient and it expected they work on their own
  • Interesting to observe them at the outset. Teacher tells me in school what they should know
  • Emphasis on lifelong learning processes
    • Self-directed


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