Young people are at the start of their occupational career path and need support and assistance in making the transition to training and employment. This assistance is provided in the form of specially tailored services offered by employment agencies and authorities providing basic income support for jobseekers. These include free advice and placement services, and services to promote and fund vocational training, or when commencing vocational training. Furthermore, young people also benefit from the services provided by the Employment Promotion Act.
Vocational training grant
To enable in-company or extra-company vocational training in a recognised craft trade, local employment agencies provide apprentices with a vocational training grant if they do not live with their parents during the period of vocational training and the firm providing apprenticeship training is too far from the parental home. The distance between the place of training and parental home does not come into play for apprentices who are over 18, are married or have been married, or have at least one child.
The grant aims to help people overcome financial difficulties that stand in the way of a vocational qualification; balance conditions in the market for training and apprenticeships; and secure and improve occupational mobility. The amount of the vocational training grant is based on accommodation expenses, the apprenticeship pay received and the annual income of the apprentice's parents, partner or spouse.
Regardless of income, people are also encouraged to take part in prevocational training programmes that prepare candidates for vocational training or integration into working life. In such prevocational training programmes, a lump sum is provided to cover some of the cost of the training course, necessary travel expenses, childcare expenses, and the cost of course material and work clothing irrespective of the candidate's income.
The vocational training grant is a standard service surrounding the active promotion of employment. In addition to in-company vocational training and participation in prevocational training programmes, vocational training grants are also provided for vocational training at an extra-company training centre provided that all other eligibility criteria are met.
In particular cases, vocational training grants can be provided for a second apprenticeship at the duty-bound discretion of the authorities. Despite having successfully completed vocational training in a specific craft trade, in isolated situations young people might not have favourable prospects in this profession. In such instances, a second period of vocational training that offers candidates prospects for the future should not be hampered by the candidate not having sufficient financial means to make a living despite an existing need on the part of the candidate.
Prevocational training programmes
These full-time programmes run by educational institutions on behalf of the local employment agency generally last 10 to 11 months, provide young people with practical insights into various professions, and teach the content of the first year of training. The content of a prevocational training programme is set out by the Federal Employment Agency on the basis of the Specialised Programme for Prevocational Training Measures (Fachkonzept für berufsvorbereitende Bildungsmaßnahmen), last reviewed by the Federal Employment Agency in March 2009. In terms of content, the legal regulatory framework is open, and does not specify the minimum or maximum training period. This means that the special needs and problems of young people under Book II of the Social Code can be taken into consideration when defining individual programmes and measures based on the Specialised Programme of the Federal Employment Agency.
A comprehensive aptitude test is conducted to identify existing knowledge, skills and competencies, as well as academic, theoretical and practical shortcomings. A personal advancement plan is drawn up, outlining the specific steps to be taken before the candidate can commence vocational training. Candidates attend the vocational college and remedial classes held at the educational institution. Practical insight into the trade is provided at special workshops at the educational institution and in the course of internships at employers' organisations. Mentors provide continuous support to the candidates to overcome any occupational integration issues. Systematic social and educational programmes also enhance candidates' social skills and provide support to help candidates address personal problems.
Prevocational training programmes can also prepare young people who do not have a school-leaving certificate for the lower secondary-school certificate examination. People have been legally entitled to this since 1 January 2009, with the general support period being 12 months in such cases. In addition to providing the framework for learning practical and social skills, the programmes also comprise classes in which theoretical knowledge is imparted.
Along with vocational training, disadvantaged young people can also receive training-related assistance if they require additional support, which - if not provided - could jeopardise the success of the training measure. Training-related assistance is offered by educational establishments on behalf of the employment agencies or authorities providing basic income support for jobseekers. Support is provided for measures that do not form part of the usual scope of training and vocational programmes. Such measures include addressing shortcomings in terms of language skills and education, supporting occupational theory and practical work, and social and educational support. Since 1 August 2009, these measures can be continued if candidates withdraw from an in-company vocational training course until they commence another in-company or extra-company vocational training programme, or following successful completion of the training course until the candidate has secured a relationship of employment. Since 1 August 2009, training-related assistance can be provided during the period of introductory training.
Organisational support for in-company vocational training, prevocational training and introductory training
Employers with a staff of 500 or less can receive support in managing and organizing in-company vocational training, prevocational training programmes in line with the Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgestz) or the introductory training of disadvantaged young people.
Vocational training in extra-company training centres
Disadvantaged young people who fail to secure an in-company training relationship even after receiving training-related assistance and taking part in a prevocational training programme can receive support in an extra-company training centre. During a period of extra-company vocational training, young people should seize any opportunity to make the transition to in-company vocational training. A bonus of 2000 euros can be paid if candidates are successfully transferred to an in-company training position ahead of time.
Since 1 August 2009, vocational training can be continued in an extra-company training centre following the premature termination of an in-company or extra-company vocational training relationship if the prospects of successfully integrating the candidate into in-company vocational training are poor. In such instances, the candidate does not have to be disadvantaged in any way. The premature termination of the contract can, for example, be due to the insolvency or closure of the organization offering the training position.
Furthermore, since 1 August 2009, the requirement to have previously taken part in a prevocational training programme lasting at least six months can be waived in exceptional, justified cases in favour of socially disadvantaged young persons. This provision applies until 31 December 2010.
Candidates can only participate in a vocational training programme at an extra-company training centre if this has been previously agreed with the employment agency and authorities providing basic income support for jobseekers.
Further information and material on the topic is available from the Federal Employment Agency.