Apprenticeship drop outs, particularly in the crafts-based professions, turned into a major issue of concern in the Federal State of Bremen during the 1990s. In the following years, the topic was set as a priority research area at the Centre for Labour and Political Education (“Zentrum für Arbeit und Politik, zap”) of the University of Bremen to better understand the reasons and develop preventative measures and an intervention programme. In 1999, this was translated into the project “Bleib dran!”, which, with gradual adjustments, has been in operation since it was first set up.
Early prevention & early intervention
A key component of the initiative “Bleib dran!” is the early detecting and solving of problems that might hinder the progression of the apprenticeship training. Focusing on domains with high drop-out rates, the approach is based on differentiated preventative and intervention measures that can be applied at different stages of the apprenticeship training.
Support offers and preventative services are targeted at trainees as well as multipliers, including vocational teachers and trainers. The objective is to sensitise all actors in VET to critical conflict areas and introduce conflict resolution methods and techniques. The activities targeted at trainees include presentations at the vocational schools at the start of the apprenticeship and modules on conflict resolution, while for multipliers the focus is on further education courses. This is complemented by coaching and mediation offers when conflicts arise. Guidance services are open to everybody on individual appointment or during office hours at the cooperating vocational schools.
Conflict guidance at the vocational school
The vocational schools play a key role in terms of early detection of conflicts as well as concerning the mediating role of the vocational teachers. The institutional establishment of the programme at the vocational schools is hence a prerequisite for effective programme implementation and to make it sustainable in the longer term. Additionally, low drop-out rates are a main quality indicator for the vocational school.
To intensify the institutionalisation of the initiative at the vocational schools, a concept is currently being developed that can be linked to the schools’ quality management system. For the schools in Bremen, the quality management model Q2E (“Quality through Evaluation and Development”) offers a framework to define quality goals (such as reducing drop-out rates through conflict guidance and mediation) and monitor goal achievement.
Two networks with key actors involved in and responsible for apprenticeship training significantly support the project “Bleib dran!”. These are the committee “Ausbildungsabbrecher_innen” for Bremen and the “Arbeitskreis zur Vermeidung von Ausbildungsabbrüchen” Bremerhaven. Both networks meet regularly. They are formed by representatives from companies, the Chambers of Crafts, the guilds, vocational schools, unions, Universities, the regional government and other key bodies.
The current project cycle is supported by the European Social Funds (ESF) and the Senatorin für Bildung und Wissenschaft im Land Bremen.