Intercultural Sensitivity in Vocational Orientation. A long-term blended training programme
The qualification programme “Intercultural Sensitivity in Vocational Orientation” can be counted among the most extensive intercultural training courses in Germany. Between March 2016 and June 2017 more than 400 professionals from the field of vocational orientation were trained in 23 learning groups in their intercultural sensitivity and competence. This long-term blended training course consisted of three two-day workshops, complemented with online learning materials for individual self-study and an online learning process moderated and guided by the trainers.I n the years 2015 and 2016 more than 1.2 million refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and other countries came to Germany (according to the The Federal Agency for Civic Education / Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung – bpb). After welcome classes, first language introductions and integration into the school system the vocational orientation is one of the first stations for young refugee migrants in their process of integration.
Intercultural Sensitivity in Vocational Orientation
During the Vocational Orientation Programme (Berufsorientierungsprogramm, BOP) young refugees meet other young people (with and without migration background) and the staff members in this field. Building a common base for communication and understanding demands intercultural sensitivity of all the parties.
Intercultural Sensitivity focuses on individual and cultural differences that have been developed during different socialisation processes. These include self-evident assumptions, ideas, concepts and preferences for our behaviour and actions, which affect the communication and cooperation in the professional everyday life of vocational orientation.
The Vocational Orientation Programme
Introduced by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF) in 2008, the Vocational Orientation Programme offers young people all over Germany “a vocational orientation process that will enable them to develop a realistic idea of their own abilities and interests and to gather practical experience in a variety of occupational fields.”
The Vocational Orientation Programme focusses on students attending schools of general education in their 7th/8th year. It usually consists of two parts, an analysis of young people’s potential and workshops in different vocational occupations. The analysis of potential enables students to arrive at an initial assessment of their own abilities and strengths, while the two-week workshops provide them with an opportunity to explore at least three occupational fields. The result of this process is the young person’s decision about his/her further steps in vocational education and training.
Source: Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB)
The blended training programme
Between March 2016 and June 2017, the Cologne Institute for Intercultural Competence (Kölner Institut für Interkulturelle Kompetenz, KIIK) carried out the project “Intercultural Sensitivity in Vocational Orientation” (Interkulturelle Sensibilität in der Berufsorientierung, IKSBO) for the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, BIBB). During this period, more than 400 professionals from the field of vocational orientation were trained in 23 learning groups in their intercultural sensitivity and competency.
The majority of our participants work in vocational orientation programmes. Most of them have been either involved in assessing abilities and skills of young people and/or in carrying out occupational workshops, while others have been in charge of coordinating/managing this programme in their organisation: managers, project co-ordinators, trainers, instructors, project staff, social workers, social pedagogues, career counsellors, etc.
The main goal of this long-term training course was to develop intercultural sensitivity and competence: participants developed better skills to support migrant youth, and especially young refugees, in their first steps towards social and professional integration in Germany.
The “Intercultural Sensitivity in Vocational Orientation” was designed as a blended training course that combined three closely inter-related elements: 3 two-day workshops (face-to-face), online learning materials for individual studies and online learning (forum discussions and virtual meetings) facilitated by the trainers.
The content ranged from understanding concepts of culture and intercultural competence to managing intercultural communication and misunderstandings to developing intercultural sensitivity in the field of occupational orientation.
The response of the participants to the programme was very positive, indeed overwhelming (see also the detailed evaluation in the final report ). The blended training programme has clearly met an important need to develop intercultural competence in this field.
Many of the participants in the field of vocational orientation felt themselves massively challenged, sometimes overwhelmed, by the challenge of the fast integration of young refugee migrants in their field of work. In this respect, the blended training programme was able to answer many current pressing questions, but also provide more intercultural safeguards for dealing with young refugees as well as with young migrants in general.
However, the evaluation by the participants also showed that, despite great satisfaction, the learning progress achieved will only be sustainable, if participants are able to continue and deepen their own learning activities and professional training.
Intercultural Training can support this process, through:
- developing a stronger sensitivity for intercultural encounters,
- broadening the knowledge about (other and one’s own) cultures, cultural similarities and differences as well as different (cultural) values,
- the ability to (self-)reflect and critically question own attitudes and patterns of communication and cooperation, and
- getting to know and adopting various tools for the analysis of problematic everyday situations.
Interkulturelles Weiterbildungsprojekt des BIBB erfolgreich abgeschlossen. Mehr als 400 Beschäftigte aus dem Arbeitsfeld der Berufsorientierung haben am „IKSBO“-Programm teilgenommen (unpublished)
The Vocational Orientation Programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) Project “Intercultural Sensitive Vocational Orientation”. Final Report. / Projekt “Interkulturelle Sensibilität in der Berufsorientierung”. Abschlussbericht