Berlin study visit – notes by Michael Hallissy. Day 4, 15 January

DSC_0166 DSC_0167Bundestag Skills4Work

15 January 2015




Sabine Krops – 15 years in her role (IT Specialist)

  • She is a Trainee Co-ordinator within the parliament
  • She is a trainee for the young people who are trainees within the parliament
  • She is also an Examiner for the Chamber of Commerce to prepare her trainees for the test


Strong connections with Dublin and Northern Ireland

  • 4 years ago they initiated a cooperation with OSZ-IMT
  • Previously they had a cooperation with Siemens


IT Training at the Parliament

The parliament’s view of apprenticeship

  • 100 students and trainees across the parliament
  • 11 different professions
    • Office manager
    • Designer of digital and print media
    • Event manager
  • Technics within house are run by the parliament not by the government or by outsourced companies
    • Plant mechanic
    • Electronics technician
  • IT Technics
    • IT specialists and electronic technicians


All these jobs are done in house and they bring in students, trainees, to learn these skills.

They even have their own police officers and they have apprenticeships in police force also


Concept of Training

  • Official training curriculum in School
  • There is also one for the company
    • What they need to do in the company [work]?
  • Sabine gives the trainees practice in her work
    • Repair Shop
    • Network management (3 weeks)
    • Telephone hotline (1 week)
    • Second level Support (helping people in their offices)
      • Focus is on real work
  • Sometimes the full-time staff don’t have the answers
    • Trainees expected to find out the solution on their own
    • The full-time help but they don’t have the answer [key issue]
    • Trainee needs to take responsibility
      • Her advice to trainees’ is “Think first, look at Google and think again”
  • Screen shot of the curriculum
    • Curriculum just outlines the timeframe and the high level topic
    • Sabine works out the detail – she decides what they will do based on this high level objective
    • Her focus is on practice and in giving trainees a chance to ‘practice’
    • They are unable to cover the entire curriculum on their own in the parliament due to the nature of the work she and her colleagues engage in
    • So they cooperate with other Government sections to provide a full traineeship
      • Ministry of Trading or The Chancellor
      • All of these units had the same issues
      • So all the parts of government and parliament came together to address this issue
        • Course on Trading
        • Use Gamification using a game situation – Company 1 etc. [simulation type activity]
    • Rationale for doing this is that the Chamber of Commerce exam covers all these topics [marketing, trading etc.] and they needed to ensure the trainees have had an opportunity to practice these skills
    • Similar to the Charité example on Tuesday they partner
      • They give the trainees support in preparing for the exam


So there is the official curriculum and they have their own curriculum which focuses more on the soft skills


  • Working for the parliament
    • Official curriculum says nothing about the parliament and how it works
    • Know about the roles and what is going on
    • Trainees need to know what is done here so that is why this is covered
    • Politics
  • Standard German Language
    • Many young people are unable to speak standard German
    • Speak High German – very proper German
    • English Friday – talk English all day long [focus on speaking]
      • Initially these are very quiet!!
    • Presentations [1 a week at least]
      • Very important
      • Selling ideas
      • Important part of the final exam in the Chamber
    • IT Projects
      • Most of the work is done in teams
      • They always work on them


IT Projects

  • Real existing challenge
  • Different skills
    • They have to work as a team and in a team
    • Take responsibility and deal with conflict
    • Personal responsibility
    • Meeting deadlines
    • Be proactive



  • Existing challenge
  • Receive an order
  • Interview the purchaser
  • Arrange a plan
  • Get the necessary hard and software
  • Build and test
  • Presentation at the end

Note they have to give a presentation in the exam


They [Sabine and her colleagues] give feedback to the trainees on how to give the presentation

  • They actually teach them how to give a presentation
  • They work on this
  • They give explicit feedback
  • They had the best trainee this year in the Bundestag


Year 1

Projects in Year 1

  • VLAN tagging
  • Gpg4win

Not everything can be taught in the parliament so they had other courses

  • Commercial course – 3 months (game-based learning)
  • Communication seminars


Year 2

  • IPv4 and IPv6 Project



  • Java
  • Oracle


Year 3

  • Monitoring Project
  • Final exam




Leonardo da Vinci Program in Ireland


The Stories of the Trainees

  • Apprenticeship in a real company
  • Project: Real project
    • Firewall configuration and network security
    • Wrote documentation
    • Well worth it


    • 42 hours per week
    • 14 classmates
    • The Special Class [small class]
    • 6 Subjects
    • 16 teachers over 3 years


  • Siemens Professional Education
    • 39 hours a week
    • 8 classmates
    • 5 subjects
    • 7 teachers
      • They were the only students in the college at the time as Siemens were exiting this type of training and they were the final group


Yr 1 – entirely at school

  • Basic school

Yr 2

    • 2 to 3 weeks in school
    • Work
  • Put theory in practice
    • Engaged in project work
    • Wrote documentation


Yr 3

  • Mostly at work
  • Some school time to prepare for final exams
  • Completed exams


Choices after completing exams

  • Stayed on to work in the parliament
  • During their apprenticeships they learned a lot about life
    • “They grew up” in the words of Sabine


Personal Experience

  • Started apprenticeship at 16
  • Moved to Berlin
  • He was much younger than others


  • He was insecure and low self-esteem
    • He identified this issue with his teachers
    • Identified his weaknesses
    • Teachers worked with him to develop these


  • While working in all the sectors he decided in the area
    • Hardware and server management
  • Final Exam
    • The presentation was the most difficult element of the traineeship at the outset
    • It ended up being the easiest part
    • He developed as a person during this time


Team Working

  • Events to develop teamwork and collaboration
  • IT Specialists don’t sit at computers
  • Sabine organised a run
    • This year they are organising something special
    • 6 continents and 35 races
    • Start at the same time all over the world
    • May 3 2015


How did the parliament select the trainees?


Apprenticeship prepares them better for the real world

– Real company experience


Parliament gives them a better experience

  • More variety in the work they engage in


Curriculum ??? [Learning goals – they are broad]

  • Not explicit like at home
  • Teacher is trusted and they have flexibility
  • Freedom
  • Professional judgement
  • It is not restricted – use real software in the office
    • E.G Prepare laptops for the new members of parliament
  • Different types of curricula among the partners
    • What do we have in the group?
    • What do these curricula look like?


Expectations for the trainees when abroad

  • Main goal is to grow up and to survive abroad
  • One trainee once told her “we are the small ones when in Germany in the company … and when abroad I am not the trainee anymore”. Because when they are abroad they are on their own
  • They can use their skills in another setting
  • Handling problems and a new culture



  • Relationship with the trainer in the company
  • Important for the trainee
    • Take a task
    • Can work
    • Wonderful work
  • Small call centre [One Example from Robert’s experience in NI]
    • The network is not working
    • Stressed and the Irish drinking tea
    • The boss came later and took a look
    • Kept on drinking the tea
    • Robert was given the task to get it working – trust in him
  • Culture important
  • Social skills – talking with people
  • Problem of trainees doing too much work – this can be a problem
    • Preparing inventory [boring]
    • The work was not appropriate
    • They need time to move around


Students send a CV and a motivation letter in advance to the Parliament


Selection Process

  • Apply
  • Logical test
  • Solve some problems in Maths
  • Interview [most important]
    • Stress test in the interview
    • Create a situation
      • Why are you doing …? [Sabine stands beside him]
      • Member of parliament then comes in [simulated]
      • How did he work with the MP?
      • How did he think?
      • Is the person fit for purpose?

Chamber of Industry & Commerce

15 January 2015




The role of the Chamber

  • Laid down in an Act of Parliament
    • Vocational Training Act 1969
    • Amended 2005 was that 1/3 of the vocational training programme can be spent abroad and it is recognised by the Chamber


Staff to support vocational training

  • Training counsellors
    • 6 people working in this team
    • Give advice to new professions
    • Give advice on the laws that are relevant to provide vocational training
    • Give advice to trainees
    • Also responsible for trainees


Acquisition of Apprenticeships

  • There was a shortage of apprentices a few years ago
  • Today there is no shortage
  • There is also a challenge in drawing people in to apprenticeships

Not every company can or is allowed to provide vocational training

  • Counsellors check the company and see if it is suitable
    • E.g. vegetarian restaurant can’t provide training on their own
    • Need a partnership arrangement

Each company has to nominate an instructor

  • They are responsible for the training of the young people
  • Must have evidence of being trained in the profession
  • Must have participated in a course on training people and there is a written examination as well
  • If they don’t meet the criteria then no training takes place

Company and Trainees sign a contract

  • Training contract is kept at the Chamber
  • This is used to organise the examinations by the Chamber
    • Intermediate and Final Exams
  • College using the contract as the valid document to register the student
    • It is the responsibility of the company but it is done by the student most often

Organisation of interim and final exams

  • They use a range of assessment modes
  • Examination Boards
    • Honorary posts
    • At least 3 people
      • 1 company representative [Company personnel can apply for this job e.g. Sabine]
      • Experts from the companies and named by the federations
      • 1 teacher from the college [specialists in their professions]


Marketing for Vocational Training [Major Task for the Chamber]

  • Companies don’t examine their own trainees during the examinations
  • Task of the examination board is to evaluate the written material and the oral examination


  • Exams – typically have 3 parts and take place over the course of a day. Each section is an hour and a half long


Services provided by the Chamber

  • Training spans sectors from Day-care to adulthood


Example of a programme, Little Scientists’ House

  • Early Childhood
    • Early childhood education to awaken a spirit of discovery


Girls’ Day and Boys’ Day

  • Give them ideas for professions they have thought of
  • These days often take place with other partners, employers, colleges and federation
  • Public programmes and they are advertised
  • Designed to lower barriers and draw people in
  • What are they doing there and should I go for a course?
  • Happens at a fixed point in the calendar of the school


Information Day for technical professions

  • 340 professions available but parents only know about 10
  • Companies open their doors to students on the information day
  • Happens once a year


Online Competency Check

  • Takes 90 minute
  • Free of charge
  • Certificate on completion
  • Something extra for their application
    • Strengths and weaknesses
  • It is particularly useful for weaker students as it can be used by the student on areas they are strong [Profiler?]
  • Feedback on competences via the online check
  • Financed by the Berlin Chamber of Commerce [ Berlin industry paid for it]
    • 15 to 18
  • They are aiming to get the colleges more involved and that many students in their classes are not appropriate for academic training
  • Still many too teachers believe that student should not go to vocational training
  • Convince parents that vocational training is a real problem
  • High dropout rates in university – 20% in Germany and it is high
    • Technopia [could we find out more about this programme?]
      • Online programme for students, parents, teachers and companies
      • Teachers in schools have to be active to use such materials to know more about professions
      • By using these materials teachers can design better programmes
      • It helps them understand what is going on in industry
  • Partnership Programme established between Schools and Companies [Question is this for colleges or for second level schools?]


  • Since 2000
  • Ideas for a partnership
  • Advantages for schools
    • They can draw on knowledge in the companies
    • Apprentices can participate in these partnerships
    • There is a contract and guidelines on how to organise such partnerships
  • Advantages for companies
    • Companies can influence what is going in schools through activities
    • Reduce drop-out rates within VET because it is high
    • Drop-out rate is high in Berlin [Probation Period from 1 to 4 months – the contract can be ended]
      • They have a special Dual Training programme for university dropouts
      • 3 Semester course in The College; shorter than the that spent by regular trainees, but they must have studied something similar in the university
      • Such people are often wonderful students as they are motivated and keen to get stuck in
    • Average age is 21 when people start in VET
    • They recognise prior learning yet Matthias mentioned that this is a challenge and requires further work in Germany
    • They always look for theory alongside practical [not one size fits all]


VET Placements

  • They hold a fair to showcase all the available professions
    • 200 companies showcased their possibilities in June 2014
  • They hold a fair in September for those who did not find an apprenticeship in June
    • It resembles a “Last Minute Stock Market”
  • Noted that Job Search in Ireland is similar


The Chamber provides a database of professions

  • All companies have to join a chamber of commerce or a trade association
    • 220,000 companies [???]
    • 5,500 provide vocational training
    • 250 colleagues in the Chamber
    • Largest section within the Chamber is the Vocational Training


Check the Chamber website as it in English

  • Percentage of income is the cost to join


You can fail 3 times in any profession but you are not allowed take the exam again

Then you have to find another traineeship and this is obviously not desirable for the young person


Is the Chamber successful in helping people getting into jobs? What are the problems?


They provide the information to the public but they believe that they are not always reaching the right people

  • Too many young people are not being reached
  • They are also not reaching some parents and teachers


Most problematic groups:

  • Are their target groups that they struggle to engage?
    • Migrant and Long-term unemployed groups are hard to reach
    • They have to design campaigns to bring these in

Berlin no longer has low level jobs [KEY MESSAGE]

  • Baker of 1950s is no longer the same today
    • Need more complex knowledge
    • Professional knowledge is increasing
    • What are they going to do with these young people who don’t engage?
    • They know about the problem but there is no solution


  • They have 2 year professions
    • But some of these are not the proper professions
    • They have basic issues with literacy and numeracy


Why are you not more successful in attracting more companies to offer dual training?

  • 1st factor – companies gave up taking students because they didn’t find the right people
    • Offer dual studies instead that leads to a Bachelor’s Degree
    • Contract with a company
    • They do vocational training
    • They go to a college
    • Bachelor degree after 4 years; After 2.5 years they get a vocational degree
      • Banks, insurances, air lines and so on
  • Small companies fed up with young people who don’t show up and who make trouble
    • Easier to train young people


Legal Frameworks

  • Protecting the quality of the profession
  • However they can sometimes be slow to implement change


German notion of education


The people gain knowledge that enables them to embark in lifelong learning

  • Flexibility in the labour market allows you to adapt to new professions later in life
  • Sometimes the trainees learn things they can use at a much later date
    • Extra training which may be a distraction at the time
    • Example of the bicycle mechanic and where it might go [they give them extra courses so that they don’t have a narrow training for a job.]



They also support start-ups and they connect German companies with overseas companies


Companies that provide extra qualifications to trainees

  • Try to develop programmes with the companies
  • Place people in partner companies


Why do Students Typically Fail?

  • If the company training is not up to scratch
  • Why are they bad?
    • Maybe it is because their marks are bad coming from school
    • Maybe they offer more help to the companies that is paid for the by Federal Agency
  • If companies abuse trainees they can be fined and they lose their license
  • They must send them to college – not good enough to say we need you in work today
  • Training Counsellors then intervene


  • They are in the wrong professions
    1. Say cook
  1. The board of examiners have high expectations
    1. Too high
    2. They would sit together with the Chamber to discuss their expectations


For example there may not be dual training in some courses – e.g. medical devices


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