Berlin study visit. Reflections. Notes by Michael Hallissy



Notes from Day 3 Reflection Meeting


Some observations from CTETB and SERC on Potential Components:


Employer Buy-in

  • The level of employer investment in the process was very evident
    • Why is the employer so bought in?
    • What does this buy-in look like?
  • We noted the language used in the work experience
    • Practicum


Initiative of the Young People

  • Noted they are expected to take initiative
  • The entire focus in the College is to prepare them for the world of work
    • The culture and atmosphere are geared towards work
  • All the young people we met were extremely confident and articulate
    • They were open about the courses
    • The courses are focusing on developing the entire person, not just teaching them narrow skills
    • Preparation for work and the world
    • Every effort to build confidence


College Approach

  • Appears the College is taking control of the elements it has direct control over
    • Teaching Approach
    • Learner experiences
    • Ensuring learners are in the right courses
    • Ensuring they are prepared for the work place, particularly those in the full-time courses


Learner Recruitment

  • Care is taken to recruit the right people into a programme
    • E.g. the marketing material for the full-time programme in OSZ
    • The interview process in DT to select trainees


Relationship Building

  • It seems that there is a lot of effort placed on building real relationships between the college and the employers
    • College and Employer meet regularly to ensure both are singing off the same hymn sheet
  • In addition the College is building relationships with their students
    • Trust
    • Treating them as adults
    • Teachers take pride in their work
    • The College attempts to cultivate respect in their students for the environment where they are learning
    • Focus on preparing them for the world of work – there is an innovative approach being taken in the College. Not simply here is the content and students need to learn it. They are supported to develop their knowledge and skills
  • There are also relationships between the Employer and the Student
    • The employer invests time in developing the student
    • The employer wants to develop the entire person
    • The employer is not expected to teach new technical knowledge, rather provide space for the trainee to apply it in real scenarios
    • Company is the space where theory is applied
    • There are safeguards, in the form of a contract, to ensure this is the case.


Some Differences with Dublin

  • Noted that in the ETB case all too often ‘Work Experience’ is treated as a module that someone has to teach
    • In Germany the entire goal is to prepare young people to work
    • It is everyone’s responsibility not just one person
    • This is a key difference that can be addressed by our Colleges
    • Need all tutors focused on preparing young people for a profession.
    • This is wider than just preparing someone for a narrowly defined job. They are preparing them for life and to become lifelong learners.



Day 4 Reflections


Focus on Economic Development

  • Once again we discussed the notion of a module on ‘work experience’ versus what we observed in Berlin. It appears the overall focus in Berlin is economic development and in keeping young people in the city to grow the economy – the work people engage in is meaningful and real. The Chamber of Commerce leads this initiative.
  • The Chamber has a real role in ensuring the professions are maintained and that standards are kept high. This is interesting because in other countries it is often ministries and others that run the exams and provide accreditation. Here it is the employers through the Chamber that play a key role between the colleges and the employers.
  • The focus is on providing young people with a Professional Qualification
    • The focus is on work
    • Young people are supported, by the College, to work in the profession
    • They are prepared to succeed
    • The focus of work phase is also to develop personal skills and independence among the young people


Orientation Phase Starts Early

  • The Chamber begins the process early to engage teachers, parents and students to apply for traineeships
  • The Chamber has a range of initiatives and programmes to inform people of what is available and they have tools to help young people and their families identify appropriate professions


Slovenia View

  • The full-time training approach is favoured over the dual system in Slovenia
  • Students are younger in Slovenia
  • They noted that the German model
    • Focus is on developing the entire person
    • Supporting students to develop
    • Trust the students
    • Focus on helping students to assess their skill-sets
      • Self-evaluation
  • The focus of work experience
    • Is not to teach new technical skills but it is an opportunity to apply learnt skills in real world context
    • Noted that while they are overseas they are expected to further develop their soft skills and to grow up
    • Slovenian group noted that there is a need to scaffold the young people so this can be achieved
      • They noted they have a major issue in Slovenia in involving companies
      • There is a lack of work in the country and this is a real challenge for them to engage companies
      • Companies don’t see the need to educate young people and in fact criticize the system for not preparing them adequately for the world of work. Yet companies don’t see they have a role in providing meaningful work placements for young Slovenian people.
    • The question was raised – “what is a meaningful task for someone while in work placement?” What should be expected of them?
    • Again all noted how OSZ has taken the approach of preparing the young people the best it can by ensuring they are ready for the work place. This is an area all partners can review and see how they can ensure their students are prepared to impress in the workplace.
      • How is this currently done?
      • Are their ways in which this can be improved in the future?
      • What can they do differently to ensure their learners are prepared to fully succeed in the work place?



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