“Quickstart Saxony”: Vocational Training After Dropping Out of University
Saxony's State Secretary of Education and Cultural Affairs, Mr. Herbert Wolff, kicked off the new state project “Quickstart Saxony” on September 19. “The aim is to win over people who don't know whether university life is for them, and those who drop out of university. We want to steer them toward vocational training,” he explained. The State Secretary also made it clear why the project is so important. “On the one hand, the economy is suffering from a shortage of skilled workers. On the other hand, the number of university dropouts is too high. We have to find solutions to both problems. In the future, we want to bring together university dropouts and the companies that need them even more effectively than before.” Mr. Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Education and Research, represented the Federal Government at the kick-off meeting in Radebeul, as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the project to the tune of approximately 1.4 million euro between 2018 and 2020.
Vocational training can open new doors
In his opening speech, State Secretary Wolff emphasized that a ‘false start’ in one's studies is not the end of the world, and that vocational training can open new doors for one’s career. “There are many reasons why a student might drop out of their course, and it is certainly not a nice feeling. However, the decisive factor is what happens next. Quickstart Saxony helps with the transition from the lecture hall to an apprenticeship. This strengthens the economy and the opportunities for those students leaving university without a qualification,” he said. In Germany, an average of 29 percent or more than one in every four students drops out of their Bachelor’s degree course.
Saxony’s State Minister of Science and the Fine Arts, Dr. Eva-Maria Stange, warned against viewing the issue the wrong way. “It is important not to regard dropping out of university as a young person having failed, but rather as a correction, a change of course in an education system that lets people slip through the net. In the dual system, students who have doubts about staying in university or drop out of their courses of study often have new options that are better suited to their talents. This ultimately leads to higher levels of satisfaction in life. I have never perceived courageous correction of their course in life as a weakness, but as a great strength of those affected. However, the flagship project that is ‘Quickstart’ is not the only one my ministry supports. In order to help students at an early stage, i.e. before they begin their studies or if they get into difficulties, we support a range of measures at the universities to make it easier for them to embark on their studies and to increase their academic success, so that doubts or dropping out do not arise in the first place.”
In order to close the gap between dropping out of university and starting vocational training, special staff will be employed at Saxony’s universities in the future. Their tasks will include networking activities, the further development of advertising materials and identifying and multiplying best-practice systems. In addition, there will be participation in trade fairs, early warning systems at universities, workshops, coaching and accompanying evaluations to see how the measures in the project are working. In addition, a website has been developed on which both students doubting their educational path and college dropouts as well as companies and networking partners can obtain information on the project and find suitable advisory services.
Collaboration between 5 Ministries and 8 Universities in Saxony
The career guidance counselors of the public employment agencies (Arbeitsagentur) help both wavering students and dropouts with their career reorientation – and this takes place directly at the universities in Saxony. They know the occupations, their requirements, the future job prospects and which companies in the region are offering training vacancies. “The companies are desperately looking for junior staff. There have been thousands of unfilled training places for years because suitable applicants cannot be found. In view of the high demand for skilled workers at the start of a career, university studies and vocational training should be regarded as being of equal importance. Vocational training after leaving university is also a good choice in this case. For everyone who wants to get on in life after such a reorientation, there are many possibilities today to climb that ladder,” said Klaus-Peter Hansen, Chairman of the Board of Management of the Regional Directorate of Saxony for the Federal Employment Agency.
The project is being managed by the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs of Saxony and by TU Bergakademie Freiberg. They are collaborating with four other Ministries and eight universities across Saxony. Further network partners include the Regional Directorate of Saxony of the Federal Employment Agency and all of the Chambers of Industry, Commerce and Crafts as well as the Chambers of Freelance Professions across the Free State of Saxony.