Article 6/2016 Learning Toolbox for trans-national mobility – preparing stacks with and for Spanish apprentices

Pekka Kämäräinen

The first three articles of this series have informed of a multimedia training campaign, of piloting with the integrative toolset Learning Toolbox (LTB) and with new complementary tools. All this has happened in Bau-ABC Rostrup, the major vocational training centre of construction sector in North Germany. This sixth article introduces a new context and target group for piloting with LTB – providing support for Spanish apprentices that participate in the trans-national mobility scheme Mobipro-EU.

On the transnational mobility scheme Mobipro-EU and how it works

The mobility programme Mobipro-EU is an initiative of the German Ministry of Labour and it is managed by the German Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). Its aim is to support the mobility of interested young people from other EU Member States to Germany to get apprentice training in the dual system of apprenticeship. The scheme provides support for the applicants firstly  in their home countries (advice, application & selection procedure and three months’ language training). Secondly, it provides a project organisation that takes care of the training arrangements and accommodation. Altogether, the programme provides the necessary support for foreign apprentices to complete the regular German apprentice training. The programme was started in 2013 and Bau-ABC has become a regional coordination centre for apprentice training in construction sector in 2015.
Bau-ABC received its first group of Spanish apprentices (initially 15) in 2015. Some of the apprentices were placed in companies in Bremen and its immediate neighbourhood, others into North-German municipalities near Bau-ABC. Concerning the language learning, the programme envisages that the participants have completed intensive language course and language test (B1) already in their home country. However, upon request of the companies providing the apprenticeships, Bau-ABC has made local arrangements for additional language teaching for the groups in Bremen and in Rostrup.

LTB as support for learning and social integration of apprentices from Spain

The companies and Bau-ABC trainers have got a good impression of the motivation and commitment of the apprentices and want to continue the training. Thus, Bau-ABC and its partner companies will soon receive 50 new apprentices from Spain to be trained in construction companies in Bremen and in North-West Germany. Taking into account the progress with Learning Toolbox (LTB) in the intermediate training in Bau-ABC, Melanie Campbell started to develop a stack for the Mobipro-EU scheme to support the training of the present and new Spanish apprentices.

In the light of the above we organised a short LTB-workshop in Bremen on Friday 10th of June. In the beginning we gave a picture of the Learning Layers (LL)  project and on the role of Learning Toolbox (LTB). Then we looked at the prototype stack for Mobipro-EU prepared by Melanie – see below a copy – and discussed, how to develop it further.

Screenshot 2016-06-16 16.24.28

Issues raised by Spanish apprentices in the workshop

We had a very lively discussion. Here I try to give some impressions of topics that came up and tensions to be considered:

  • Making the move to Germany: The apprentices were pleased with the thick handbook (full of relevant information) provided by the Spanish consulate.
  • Making progress with the language skills: The apprentices had completed an intensive course and (most of them) passed the required language test. When coming to Germany they were surprised that their language skills were not always trusted and they were not encouraged to speak German.
  • Getting used to working for construction companies in Germany: Most of the apprentices had attended some kind of school-based vocational education with eventual workplace placement. Yet, the transition to a German apprentice contract (which is essentially an employment contract) provided a major cultural change.
  • Peer learning: Many of the problems and challenges encountered by the apprentices are such that no one has prior information – the members of the pioneering group have had to find their own solutions . In this respect the blog of Carlos has served as a forum, on which he has discussed questions of others. In this respect the LTB has a chance to provide a “Questions and Answers” section and a forum for new issues.
  • Recognition of prior learning: One of the shortcomings in the implementation of the Mobipro-EU programme has been the fact that far too little attention has been paid on the recognition of prior competences. Thus, it appears that apprentices may be guided to new occupations (that are alien to them) although they have received a school-based education in another.

We discussed these (and other) issues from many perspectives. We came to the conclusion that Learning Toolbox can play a significant role in supporting the newcomer group(s) with their start and with their adjustment to the new circumstances. We were pleased to see that the pioneering apprentices are willing to contribute to the development of LTB stacks and tiles and to share their valuable experiences.

Learning Toolbox (LTB) Chronicle Vol. 3, 6/2016:

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