“Interkulturelle Öffnung (IKÖ)” – Intercultural training for vocational trainers and teachers

Our contemporary society is more and more characterized and influenced by various aspects of migration and multiculturalism. This entails many benefits for all members of the society, but it also involves challenges and different sets of problems that have to be met. Thus, teachers, vocational trainers as well as employers of governmental and non-governmental institutions have to prepare for and adapt to this development and its potential challenges. Intercultural opening (“Interkulturelle Öffnung (IKÖ)”) is a concept and process at the same time to facilitate the adaptation to social realities.  

Inter- or transcultural competence is a key skill to be able to manage one’s personal and professional life in a multicultural society and a globalized world. Logically, intercultural education is meant to transfer this plural and democratic dimension. With regard to “language teaching”, for instance, it is not enough to simply teach the language itself while neglecting specific cultural aspects closely related to a language. With regard to vocational training, it is accordingly insufficient to merely focus on teaching specific working techniques and behaviour while neglecting other work-related skills, just like communication skills, team-work or other soft skills. Vocational trainers rather have to be able – or are even obligated – to communicate and teach values, concepts and realities that are relevant in their companies and the contemporary society, e.g. skills and knowledge to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts due to different cultural backgrounds. Unfortunately, most of the vocational training programs are still lacking these aspects. This means that the role of teachers and vocational trainers has to change so it is not limited to teaching target specific knowledge anymore but is extending to passing on knowledge about behaviour and methods as well as values, concepts and realities encompassed and reflected by the language or working habit.  

The aim of the intercultural training program “Interkulturelle Öffnung (IKÖ)” is to improve the on-the-job performance of social workers, vocational trainers, teachers and pedagogues as well as multipliers who work and interact with young people and professionals with a migration background on a daily basis. To reach this aim, the BWK regularly realises intercultural / cross-cultural trainings with success. In order to foster reflection of mentalities, attitudes and behaviour, knowledge as well as affectional and methodological skills have to be taught and trained. Consequently, the intercultural workshops are aimed to enable trainees

(1) to train and improve methodological skills (people learn how to reflect and adapt the way they interpret human behaviour and relationships)

(2) to train and improve affectional skills (people learn how to reflect certain features of their own behaviour)

(3) to acquire (basic and in-depth) knowledge about “the other”, i.e. languages, history geography etc. as well as a theoretical background of the concept of culture.