The Berufskolleg in the district of Olpe teaches refugee students in seven international classes. For the success of vocational education, they work closely with youth welfare, the youth migration service, and the municipal integration center. Added to this is the commitment of the teachers and the motivation of the young refugees.
Around 80 students from the International Support Groups of the Vocational College Olpe received their diplomas at the beginning of July 2017. They have thus acquired their first German school leaving certificate and can make their way into the professional world. Within a year, the young refugees not only learned the German language but also gained their first professional experience. To succeed, many municipal actors work together. In addition to the teachers, the school social service and the students of the Vocational College, these are mainly local companies and, in the case of unaccompanied minor refugees, caregivers of child and youth welfare.
International promotion classes as a start into the professional world
In the Olpe district, refugee students of vocational school age attend the Vocational College in Olpe. They are initially taught in so-called International Funding Classes (IFK). The main objective of the one-year promotion classes is to learn German – ten hours per week are available. Additional courses include economics, politics, and mathematics. “Twice a week,” says Elisabeth Loske, director of the IFK at the Berufskolleg Olpe, “the pupils have practical lessons in our workshops. There, the students gain their first experience in the fields of metal, wood, nutrition and supplies, motor vehicles and electrical systems. “
Vocational college offers many paths to the IFK
In the second half of the promotion class, the young people will deepen their practical experience in long-term internships at local companies. “We looked for the places to do this together with the students themselves,” says the head of the IFK at the Berufskolleg Olpe. “For this, we have one-to-one interviews with each adolescent to find out which professional qualifications and ideas they have.” According to the IFK, there are various possibilities for the students: Some may attend the one-year vocational school or, if they are particularly well qualified, even the upper secondary school to get a higher education degree. “Not always enough for an education of the Hauptschulabschluss class 9,” says Elisabeth Loske. Many students start an entry qualification (EQ) after the IFK – a one-year internship with vocational education as preparation for the training. Others find an apprenticeship during their internship during the IFK.
“It is impressive and commendable what the refugee students have learned here in a year.”
Head of the IFK at the Berufskolleg Olpe
Strong network and commitment is crucial for educational success
Ms. Loske believes that it is not enough to teach students during the lessons. “In order for them to get along well with us and find an apprenticeship, it is very important to cultivate the network of relationships,” she says. With this network of relationships, she means the exchange and cooperation with training companies, carers of the youth welfare service and the young people themselves. However, this is not possible without the personal commitment that goes beyond the professional obligations. Elisabeth Loske says that she and her team often stay in class after class to answer students’ questions. In addition, they are also accessible after class and on weekends, for example, for carers of the youth welfare.
The Berufskolleg Olpe
Collaboration between vocational college and youth welfare
Jens Ossendorf, as head of the youth welfare department of the CJD Olpe, looks after 14 unaccompanied minor refugees who are attending the Olpe Vocational College. The direct exchange with Mrs. Loske and the other class teachers is in his view particularly important and decisive for the further way of the young people: “We have the possibility, for example with inquiries to special promotion possibilities or other questions, which arise in the school every day, fast and uncomplicated Speaking to the teachers. “This relationship capital, says Jens Ossendorf, is a decisive factor for the success of vocational education:” The various caregivers, such as teachers, supervisors or training managers, are, in addition to personal resources, the most important asset for the young people. They exchange information,
Further support through municipal integration service
In addition to the direct caregivers for the students, there are other actors with whom the vocational colleges work together with regard to vocational training for young refugees. On the one hand, this is the social pedagogue Angelika Link, who supports young people with a migration background at the youth migration service Olpe. Adolescents who have fled to Germany with their families do not receive the close support of the youth welfare service like unaccompanied minor refugees. Therefore, the interface between the social worker and the families for Vocational College is very important. “Especially with accompanied young people, where we see difficulties, the contact with Ms. Link is particularly important,” says Elisabeth Loske. “She then goes to the families and talks to them. “But also on parental leave days, you have the opportunity to get to know the parents and to talk about challenges and opportunities. Speech days were specially set up for refugee families.
On the other hand, at the county level, there is the Municipal Integration Center (AI), which among other things supports schools with advanced training, especially in the area of German as a second language. In addition, the KI also provides voluntary supporters to Vocational College.
Motivation of the pupils is a decisive factor
Despite the cooperation and the great commitment of the involved actors, it is not possible without the students’ own motivation. “One very important thing,” Ms. Loske emphasizes, “is how motivated the students themselves are to get involved in everything here: to learn German, to accept our education system and to make a real effort. In my opinion, this is the alpha and omega. “In addition, according to Elisabeth Loske, the pupils also have to get to know a new culture and some of them have to deal with traumatic experiences.