Berlin has developed a programme to encourage young people who are disengaging from the formal education system to enter vocational training in green and sustainable technologies.
The Adapting and Installing Vocational Training for Renewal Energy (AIRE) network provides an opportunity to 15 year old secondary school students in deprived city districts to build a small remote controlled solar model car. Finished models are showcased at local and international parades where the students deliver presentations on how the models were created.
The training aims at preventing school dropout and making students develop personal and social skills.
The objective of the program is also to encourage young people to pursue further vocational training in green technologies. Some early beneficiaries have already graduated with a Master of Science degree and now work in positions of responsibility at solar or wind energy companies.
Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/353-green-web_final.pdf
A high percentage of young people in Berlin drop out of the education system: around 8% from high school and 30% from vocational training. A lack of goals and a sense of having no future can have serious social consequences for young people including violence or criminal behaviour. Preventing school dropout is very important in securing a future of these young people and preventing problems for wider society. It can be very difficult to successfully reintegrate them into the education system since many of them live in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and experience various problems, for example drug and alcohol abuse, social difficulties, low confidence, low personal management skills or poor parenting at home.
The Adapting and Installing Vocational Training for Renewal Energy (AIRE) network provides an opportunity to 15 year old secondary school students in deprived city districts to build a small remote controlled solar model car. The project is aimed at young people who have dropped out of school or are at risk of dropping out, pupils with behavioural difficulties and young people with sensory disabilities. A hands on, innovative and fun approach is taken to train and inspire the students and help them develop a range of technical skills.
The project design also helps the students develop personal and social skills such as time keeping, perseverance, public speaking and team work. To give them a sense of achievement, finished models are showcased at local and international parades where the students deliver presentations on how the models were created. The project also aims to encourage young people to pursue a career in the green energy sector. Participating in the project counts as part of a prevocational qualification required to enter vocational courses in Germany. Learning outcomes of the project include:
- technical knowledge on renewable energy, electricity, gearing, motors, batteries, radio frequency and remote control
- technical skills (e.g. using tools, making electrical connections, taking measurements, analysing data and making adjustments based on results)
- health and safety
- communication and social skills
At the end of the project, participants obtain an internationally recognised European Qualification Framework (EQF) level 2 certificate.
The current edition of the transnational ‘AIRE EQF2 for ALL’ receives a total of €110,000 in funding from the EU. The city of Berlin receives €18,000 for this two-year project through the Leonardo da Vinci programme.
To support the teachers involved in the project, the city recognises the hours they work on the project as part of their ordinary weekly teaching hours.
To date six schools in Berlin have participated in the AIRE project and it has helped reintegrate young people into society and the education system. It also enhances the students’ awareness of environmental issues and of the vocational training and job opportunities available in the growing field of renewable energies.
The playful and innovative approach has been met with great enthusiasm among both students and teachers, and the learning outcomes surpassed expectations. The young people become more confident, motivated and ready to start further vocational training in green technologies. They increase their ability to concentrate on short to mid-term projects and planning, reflect on their own work, and function as part of a team.
The AIRE project started as a local initiative in 2001. Some of the early beneficiaries went on to complete an officially recognised three year vocational training while others have gone on to University of Applied Sciences. Some early beneficiaries have already graduated with a Master of Science degree and now work in positions of responsibility at solar or wind energy companies.
The main challenge of this project was financing the materials for the solar cars, travel expenses for the students and in case of the young people with disabilities, for their carers. These challenges were partly overcome by obtaining EU funding.
The project coordinators are now looking into new sources of finance to allow more young people to participate.
In Green Jobs for social inclusion (see references), EUROCITIES identifies three main factors that contribute to the success of these city initiatives to create green jobs for social inclusion at the local level.
1. Combining demand and supply side interventions: an intervention does not solely focus on developing people’s competences, skills and motivation (supply side intervention) but also aims to create a tangible route into the labour market (demand side intervention).
On the demand side, the programme's objective is to provide a ‘protected’ working environment with the view of supporting people to gain real work experience to enable them to compete in the mainstream labour market.
These demand side interventions are then complemented by well-matched activation and training measures (supply side interventions) helping people to gain specific skills and improve their chances of accessing the labour market.
2. Linking the interventions to local employment opportunities
The second success factor is the strong link between the programmes and local employment opportunities. Cities as the level of government closest to the people have an in-depth knowledge of their local labour markets. They can design programmes in line with local economic demand and prepare people for jobs that are available locally. The effectiveness of the demand and supply interventions is made stronger when they are grounded in local businesses and job market needs.
3. Tailoring activation measures to the specific needs of people
The third success factor of the programmes is linking the activation measures to the specific needs of the target groups.
For local authorities, programmes that combine greening and social inclusion bring added value, particularly during periods of budgetary constraint and growing demand for services. Integrated programmes that address several objectives with one investment bring efficiency to local interventions. Given the longer term perspective of the sector, linking job seekers to local jobs in the green economy should continue to bring results as the sector is set to grow.
The initiative is part of a European ‘AIRE EQF2 for ALL’ project, which takes place in a number of European countries and is adapted from country to country. For example in France the method is used for adults from a migrant background to increase language competences and they build a full sized car. In Bulgaria and Denmark, the project is used for vocational orientation in secondary schools.
More information on the success factors: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/green_jobs_for_social_inclusion_intro_FINAL.pdf
"Local strategies to implement national energy efficiency schemes", in Green Jobs for social inclusion, EUROCITIES, June 2015, 16-17.