GTECHer in Germany: Day 3
By: Sara Innamorato
This week, our Director of Operations and Programming is in Germany! Follow Evaine on a wonderful learning opportunity and journey this week.
Day 3: Hamburg’s Youth
The journey continues! Today we talked with some of the most passionate people I have every met. We spent the morning with the Director of the Land Youth Office from the Ministry of Labor, Family and Integration as well as a consultant who is working with them. They reviewed the policies and directives which guide the educational system in Hamburg. It is important to remember that Hamburg is a City-state which means they have more flexibility in designing their infrastructure and the power to oversee it. In every talk we’ve had so far the overarching vision has been along the lines of social participation and fair opportunities for all -people in all stages of life and of any background or circumstance — “integration for independence.” We met in the Altona neighborhood, one of the five locations with this program throughout Hamburg.
Carrying the theme from the end of yesterday, we spoke more on youth unemployment issues focusing on the age of 18-25. It is required by law that all students attend school until they are 18. The truancy and dropout rates are very low when compared to the US (about 3% compared to America’s 7%). But there was concern that after achieving the basic Certificate of Secondary Education, the Ministry lost touch with about 30% of those youth. They have implemented a project called “Come In” which focuses on this population. The goal is to increase the number of students entering the workforce either through other paths of education, apprenticeship or pursuit of a vocational program. In 3 years, they have seen significant increases in participation of these youth in the workforce. The program is relatively simple, but succeeds in its ability to develop relationships between mentors and students, providing job readiness skills, as well as basic life management skills.
There is a fascinating correlation between this work and youth programs happening in Pittsburgh. There are willing corporate partners to develop appropriate apprenticeship opportunities, a self-driven willingness for post high-school students to pursue a program like this, requirement of high school equivalent completion, and a different approach for students on a risky path (drugs, petty theft, and so on). Primary differences include mandate from the government and a subsidy to establish and run a program of this nature. As I talked about the unique nature of the education system in my last post, there is a significant level of support provided by the government which encourages youth to be independent.
Planners in Hamburg are increasingly taking socio-cultural elements into account regarding children and youth culture. They recognize the importance of supporting this culture as well as sustainable development in communities, and the role of culture as a driving-force in the city. Another great site visit and conversation we had today was with Die Motte – a not-for-profit organization in the Ottenson/Altona neighborhood of Hamburg. Die Motte acts as an intermediary and community anchor to help facilitate the successful regeneration of communities by providing services, programming, and support while embedding themselves in this neighborhood. They run well over 30 programs (including, homework help, interview training, pottery, media, urban gardening and many more) with over 150 different partners, and worked nationally and internationally to develop connections to increase the sustainability of their efforts. They embrace the struggle and nuances with having a large immigrant population and contrasting understanding between cultures and they develop programming only that they know is desired by the community.