Educational partnerships as the cornerstone for successful career orientation

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Educational partnerships between schools and companies offer enormous added value for both sides. On the one hand, as strong regional partners, the companies can provide targeted support to the students in the field of career orientation. And the students can come into contact with potential professions at an early stage through the companies. Such an educational partnership has existed between Rehm Thermal Systems and the Blautopfschule Blaubeuren since the end of 2017. In the interview, Joachim Flinspach and Lea Scheiffele – both teachers at the Blautopfschule and responsible for the areas of career and study orientation – report on educational partnerships, the cooperation with Rehm Thermal Systems and what challenges and opportunities the corona pandemic brought with it.

Mr. Flinspach, the Blautopfschule Blaubeuren cooperates with Rehm Thermal Systems as part of an educational partnership. How did it come about, how did the contact come about?

Joachim Flinspach: The suggestion for educational partnerships in general came from the IHK Ulm. In the years that followed, we concluded some educational partnerships with companies in the region, but we still had the company Rehm Thermal Systems in mind. Because as a large company, our students at Rehm can not only get an insight into manual, but also into commercial professions. This offers our students a great choice. When we got in touch with Rehm Thermal Systems, we immediately met with great interest. 

What does such a collaboration in the form of an educational partnership look like in concrete terms?

Joachim Flinspach:An educational partnership should primarily serve career orientation. One of the most important aspects is internships. In the best case scenario, the internships create a win-win situation – for the students, but also for the companies. The companies get students from us who fit the profile exactly. And the students get an internship, which may be the first step into professional life. When the students do an internship, there are only three ways it will end: The student realizes that the job is not at all suitable for him – that is one thing. But there are also students who come back from an internship and can imagine working in this profession in the future. In the best case scenario, at the end of the internship, a student says: That’s exactly where I want to go. And the company says: 

What are the advantages of such an educational partnership for the students, but also for the school? 

Lea Scheiffele: We specifically prepare the students for career orientation in the classroom. The first steps in career guidance usually begin in grade 6. But at this point there is still a wide range of professions that will arouse a student’s interest. We then guide our students in a direction and try to show them where their strengths lie. In an internship, the students can build on these strengths. The originally large number of potential occupations is becoming an increasingly narrow field. 

What is important in educational partnerships? What needs to be done for the educational partnership to be successful?

Joachim Flinspach: It is extremely important that the students can correctly imagine the later professions. That they know exactly what the job is, what makes the job, how it feels, how it smells. And that is something that students can achieve in internships – and thus in educational partnerships. 

Has anything changed since the corona pandemic, did the format / approaches have to be adapted?

Joachim Flinspach:Something fundamental has changed in the past few months: the students could not do internships. The pandemic has mixed up a lot in everyday school life and thus also in career orientation. After all, personal contact between students and companies is extremely important when it comes to career orientation. Nevertheless, some new formats have also emerged. For example, there was digital application training with Rehm Thermal Systems. It was an exciting and helpful format for our students. Our common idea of ​​the virtual application training with the HR professionals of the Rehm company was even recognized by the state government as part of the competition “Educational partnerships digital”. A great success! 

Which challenges do the students have to struggle with the most at the moment? Especially those who are about to graduate?

Lea Scheiffele: The students primarily lack direct contact with the professions. In the case of skilled trades in particular, it is important that the students come into contact with them and can see and see everyday working life. Because especially in the handicraft, it’s the nice thing that at the end of the day you have created something right. Something that lasts. You can set a monument for yourself. This is sometimes a little more difficult with other professions. 

Which gaps / problems have arisen as a result of the corona pandemic and which measures is the Blautopfschule planning to close / solve? 

Joachim Flinspach:The most important thing here is: the student himself has to want it, he has to want it to close these gaps. There are various voluntary offers – such as learning bridges in the last two weeks of the holiday – but the initiative has to come from the student himself. We are in the fortunate position that, as a community school, we have a completely different educational concept and can therefore accommodate the students well. The coaching alone – here every student has 15 minutes a week to talk to their coach about everything that moves them. And of course you can set the course well when it comes to career orientation. But also recognize exactly where Corona may have left something, address it and get the student back on the right track. 

What do you think: What will the educational partnership between the Blautopfschule and the Rehm company look like in a few years? What will have changed? 

Joachim Flinspach: What is good is becoming more digital. Nevertheless, it should always be in the foreground that the students get to know the people in the company. Career initiation will probably take place more digitally in the future, but deepening in the respective occupation will then take place manually – and in a “traditional” way. 

Lea Scheiffele: Reduce fear of contact and make initial contacts – the most important aspect of the future will be a constructive and fruitful educational partnership. We look forward to taking this path together with Rehm Thermal Systems.

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