Germany's long-term strategy against youth unemployment

Ghada Abdel-Kader, Monday 24 Jun 2019

File Photo: Employees handle packages in the new Amazon logistic center in Dortmund, Germany November 14, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

Berlin is both Germany’s capital and its biggest state. The city’s population is estimated at 3 million people.

Germany’s unemployment rate has declined to 4.8 percent this year, the lowest percentage since German reunification in 1990.

According to an EU labour force survey, the German youth unemployment rate went from 6.5 percent last year to 5.7 percent in January of this year, and then to 5.6 percent in February.

This is the result of the leading role of German organizations fighting youth unemployment in Berlin.

This topic was part of a protocol of a youth exchange programme between the Press Network for Youth Topics (PNJ) in Germany and Egypt.

This year, the main focus for the youth programme was “youth and professional life.”

The national employment agency for youth in Berlin registers every young unemployed person or job seeker, and helps them find new jobs or pay for new skills.

Youth expert advisor and vice-chairman of the team Nora Ahrends, comments: “In the first stage, we provide young people aged from 18 with initial guidance information on different professions. Also, we give them opportunity for discussions in order to help young people discover their interests and strengths, to choose a suitable occupation according to their ages.”

The chairman of the agency and social guidance expert Bettina Rosemann explained: “The agency focuses on all the youth having equal job opportunities, whether they are rich or poor.”

Ahrends adds: “Some youth suffer from financial difficulties. The agency also supports them financially.”

Ahrends said that the agency also has direct contact with the owners of major companies and professions, to inform them of available job vacancies and help young job seekers find them.

“We provide young people with full information about the job type and the company’s address,” Rosemann said.

“Eighty percent of job seekers submit online job applications. Our experts assist young people with how to write their personal resume, application documents, educational history, details of practical experience, skills and hobbies.”

Another small association in the Schoenberg district of Berlin is called JobMobil. Its main target is disadvantaged, unemployed young people who can’t find job opportunities or training and may also have serious personal problems. The Youth and Family Foundation of the State of Berlin provides the project with funding.

The social experts and teams were can be found in seven public places where young people spend most of their time, such as parks and streets. They travel every day to meet young people in their residential areas or districts.

The total population in Schoenberg district is 350,000.

Social specialist and one of the working team at JobMobil, Veronika Pelzer, said: “In Germany, there were a large number of job opportunities and professions. We helped young people to write their personal resumes, create applications and documents, and train them on how to get a job.” 

Tobias Braun, a guidance expert who works with young people, said: “We try to meet and persuade marginalised youth aged from 16 to 27, to resume their education and find specific training for certain professions or jobs.”

“Some of the young people have run away from their families due to pressure or other reasons. Others have educational problems,” said Braun.

Plezer added: “Young people have jobs but with inadequate salaries and poor benefits. It is not enough actually to get married and have a family. We support them to solve these problems.”

One of the largest municipal waste management companies is Berlin City-Cleaning (Berliner Stadtreinigung - BSR).

The media officer at the company, Thomas Klocker said: “BSR is a governmental institution. It was established in 1951. Our main mission is to guarantee safe waste management and cleanliness.”

BSR provides thousands of jobs for youth in different waste management fields, Klocker said.

“The number of employees in the waste management field is 5,400, plus 250 trainees working and studying at the same time.”

BSR is responsible for cleaning public space streets, airports, parks, for dealing with commercial waste, and for winter services such as snow removal and gritting the roads.

“BSR covers all its expenses from collection fees and other charges for services,” said Klocker.

“The waste management profession is a good career for young people in Germany,” said the manager of the dual education system department at the BSR, Anke Streuk, who said salaries in the profession were high.

“BSR receives around 3,000 to 3,500 applications every year. We only choose 75 trainees.”

The dual education system combines apprenticeships at a company and vocational education at a vocational school. The trainees study for two or three years, and gain the theoretical knowledge they need to become specialized in a certain technical or commercial profession.

Then, the company takes over the practical part and trains them as apprentices.

Afterwards, they must pass a graduation examination to receive certification.

Other young people go to university to get a degree.

There are 325 professions recognised in Germany.

“We teach any professions, according to the society's need for these occupations,” said Streuk.

The qualifications and skills depend on the professions young people choose, Streuk explained.

“First, applicants should have finished their compulsory stage of education for children aged from 10-12. They should have commitment, problem-solving abilities, be a speaker of the German language, have good communication, team skills and mental capabilities in mathematics.”

Another network called BQN Berlin (Berlin Vocational Qualification-Network for Migrants) is concerned with integration policy for marginalized young people with a migration background.

A psychologist at BQN Berlin, Rachida Rami, said: “All the nationalities are present in Germany. Reaching those people in the early stages prevented social distress and psychological problems.”

“In Berlin 43 percent of young people under 18 are foreign citizens.”

“They have the same rights in work and education as German citizens.”

“We worked with organisations, major companies in government and the private sectors in providing jobs for those with migrant backgrounds,” said Rami.

The Academy for Business Continuing Education GmbH (Bildungswerk der Wirtschaft in Berlin und Brandenburg, BBW) helps young people who have not found jobs to enhance their skills and entered the job market in different ways.

The project the Berlin Network for Training (Berliner Netzwerk für Ausbildung, BNA) supports school children in the tenth grade in the transition from school to work.

More than 7,500 pupils have been helped by BNA since it was established in 2004.

It supports young people in all matters concerning career choice, identifying their strengths, interests and weaknesses, and the advantages and disadvantage in each profession.

“We contact different organisations and companies through our page on the internet or we do searches by ourselves and get in touch with employers,” said BNA staff team leader Guido Grapengter.

The head of the teaching network for dual education system at BNA, Roland Schmidt, said: “The preparation period depends on the student’s ability. Some only need three months to be ready; others take a whole year.”

It is free of charge to pupils and is funded by the European Social Fund and the Federal Employment Agency.

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