“Berliner Berufsrouten” – an innovative project to facilitate vocational orientation for young people

“Berliner Berufsrouten” (Berlin career paths) is an innovative project that provides vocational guidance for young people and helps companies to find suitable apprentices. Implemented in April 2015 by medialepfade.de in cooperation with the BildungsWerk in Kreuzberg, the project has two main target groups: on the one hand, young people (8th-10th grade) who find themselves confronted with the challenge to decide which vocational training they are going to follow; on the other hand, companies that are offering apprenticeship training positions. 

The project “Berliner Berufsrouten” emerges from the necessity to improve the vocational orientation for young people in Germany. Approximately 90% of young people are focusing on only 10 out of over 340 different vocational training programs. This results in a disproportional situation where many young people are not able to find a training position and many companies are facing a shortage of suitable candidates for their vocational training positions which consequently often remain vacant. 

There are several reasons why the majority of young people are choosing only between 10 instead of over 340 vocational training programs. First, young people often show the preference to stay in the area where they grew up, live and went to school. Their mobility is limited. Second, many vocational training programs and job descriptions seem to be very abstract and vague to young people. (This often leads to an increased drop-out rate as young people are not well-informed about what the specific expectations are when they start a vocational training program.) And third, several vocational training programs have “image problems”. Influenced by the media (e.g. TV shows), young people might associate a positive imagine, sociability and easy working conditions with the work in the gastronomy, catering or hotel sector. They are not aware of the fact that working as a cook, for instance, often includes working in shifts as well as working under time pressure and physically straining conditions. Then again, many other jobs – especially the so called MINT-jobs (jobs related to mathematics, computer science, natural science and technology) – often have a rather negative image or young people do not even know that these kind of jobs exist, like the work as a specialist for pipe, sewer and industry service (Fachkraft für Rohr-, Kanal- und Industrieservice), material inspector (Werkstoffprüfer) or qualified IT specialist for application development (Fachinformatiker der Fachrichtung Anwendungsentwicklung). 

In a youth-oriented and interactive way, “Berliner Berufsrouten” wants to resolve these problems by providing relevant and realistic information about the wide range of vocational training programs as well as offering support to young people when choosing a training program. Therefore, the project is characterized by its practical, realistic and playful approach based on the use of digital media. In small groups and equipped with tablets (or smartphones), young people are moving through the city of Berlin, guided by a GPS signal leading them along the so-called “Berufsrouten” (career paths) and presenting them a selection of different companies. Once arrived in front of a company, the application on the mobile device is displaying information about the vocational training program offered by this particular company. The young people are working independently through the information presented in texts, photos, audio or video files and they answer various questions before moving on to the next station. 

What makes the media educational concept very unique is the fact that it is based on a participatory approach, i.e. all vocational trainings presented on the “Berufsrouten” are made by young people for young people. Thus, all information material is presented from the perspective of other young people. During three-day media workshops young people are producing and summarizing the information on the vocational trainings. Instructed by experienced media pedagogues they learn how to interview a person, how to film and record (with a tablet) and how to take photographs. After completing the workshop, they visit the companies and produce the material that is incorporated in the “Berliner Berufsrouten” game. 

“Berliner Berufsrouten” is complemented by various so-called matching events that are meant to be a platform where young people meet entrepreneurs to intensify personal contacts and exchange information with the aim to match potential candidates and vocational training positions. 

As the model showed to be very successful in the past, in 2016, four “Berliner Berufsrouten” and in 2019, ten “Berliner Berufsrouten” will be available to schools and other institutions in Berlin that work with young people.