What German schools do to engage employers in education

By Birgit Reusrath (teacher) and Jürgen Parussel (Careers Teacher) 

Schule – am – Hexbachtal/ Hauptschule/ Muelheim an der Ruhr/ Germany

First of all, every school has a careers teacher, a person who has a special education in accompanying pupils on their way from school into the world of work.

German schools have a curriculum that from the 5th school year (at age 10) on makes the pupils familiar with everything around the meaning of jobs in their lives. You can find the topic in all of their school subjects.

At our school, pupils first explore‚ the reality of the world of work in year 8 (at age 13), when they take part in practical days (you can find more about this on our homepage)

How does the school (Schule-am-Hexbachtal) find employers?

The employers who work with our school give pupils the chance to learn about future careers or even move into apprenticeships or later into jobs.

Businesses are found by surfing the Internet for suitable jobs for teenagers. Also the city’s office for school affairs, the government, employers‘ federations including the Chamber of Commerce provide job opportunities according to the needs of the labour market.

1) Bigger companies like Thyssen – Krupp Steel, Lidl, Edeka or TAS Muelheim (which operates call centres) ask schools to take part in their trainee programmes. Pupils who seem to suit the jobs in these programmes must have good key qualifications. They follow a programme for one year and attend additional maths courses at school (done by a maths teacher), undertake work experience in the job and take a psychological test as well as an employment test. If they are doing successfully they get a guaranteed apprenticeship in the company.

2) The teachers involved in the vocational learning programmes for their pupils meet in working groups with the Chamber of Commerce which will assess the capabilities of the applicants in the end.

a) The careers teachers of all schools attend the Chamber of Commerce‘s School and Economy working group. They do the job orientation and are the ones who go to or ring up companies or smaller firms to find out about all different kinds of jobs that are vacant at the moment. Companies are obliged to inform the Chamber of Commerce about vacancies in jobs. These jobs then appear on the Internet on a certain platform and schools can check to get an idea of the job situation at any time.

b) Each commune has a bureau of economic development and a bureau of education. They provide the companies with their statistics.

c) Schools have a social agency where people work, who are especially there to help all pupils and give them advice for their future. These people are paid by the city of Muelheim. There is also an organisation for students with special needs which is located in schools, too. They are paid by the BA (Bundesagentur für Arbeit – Federal Employment Agency). Even after their graduation the students receive more assistance from these organisations.

d) The local job centre which is connected to the BA is in touch with the schools and sends pupils offers of vacant apprenticeships.

3) The class teacher and the careers teacher help pupils to find the ‘right‘ firm. They visit them during their 3-weeks work experience in class 9 and 10.

4) There are many job fairs throughout the year, which are organised by business associations and Chambers of Commerce. Firms introduce themselves, do speed datings or market places and there is a day where the Chamber of Crafts presents its jobs.

Students have the possibility to get an impression of the jobs and they may be invited to do some testing days in the job they are interested in. When they then bring in their full application they have a good chance to get employed.

5) In our school 60% of the students get either an apprenticeship or go to vocational college or to a comprehensive school and keep on learning for the next higher school degree.

The school statistics have to be sent to the government or the Ministry of Education and schools will get rated and put on a ranking list.

The Schule-am-Hexbachtal was visited by an EU Eramus-funded delegation of London professionals interested in the relationship between education and employment in the spring of 2015.

Read the Partnership for Young London report from the study here.