A Trans-European challenge for youth and youth workers
We at Bildungsstätte Bredbeck have been working with young people in the school-to-work-transition for over a decade. We are educating social workers and other specialists in the field, thereby developing this area of youth work in Germany. Since youth and the working-world are continuously changing, we know ourselves to be in an ongoing process of learning and rethinking this important transition.
Our working world is transforming
The working world is still changing from an industrial society to a globally structured society based on the provision of information and services.
Our statements on the nature of school-to-work transition:
The working world is demanding
The working world’s demands towards the individual worker are changing and ever increasing.
You have to show flexibility
Working biographies are becoming increasingly flexible and discontinuous. Working conditions like self-employment, part-time employment or temporary employment, which used to be atypical, become more and more common.
Not everyone wins
Less skilled or less trained individuals suffer disproportionally from the changes in the working world, while highly trained elites sometimes profit.
Employment and career remain defining factors for identity, financial security, acceptance and success on an individual level. On a structural level, employment and employability continue to be major shaping factor for the educational system as well as other social systems like health care, retirement, insurance etc.
The main ideas conveyed to youth regarding the transition from school to work are:
The transition from school to work is highly important.
It has a permanent effect on practically everything else in life.
Its success is dependant solely on the individual’s willingness to learn, adapt and perform.
There is no straight path
We teach our youth that transition should be a smooth line, while in reality it is a live long process with glitches, sharp turns, surprises and coincidences.
Similarly the transition from being a youth to being an adult is a long period of time with changing and conflicting behaviours and identifications.
School-to-work transition is not a level playing field. It is shaped by all the disparities that our society is constructed upon. Therefore, sex, gender, class, ethnicity and other social categories are relevant.
In Germany, school-to-work transition is a field in which many different institutions and personnel operate with different agendas. This diversity can be enriching, it can also add to the confusion of the individual.
Your are not alone
Finally, we are convinced that it is possible to meaningfully support youth during this important time of their lives. To achieve this, experts need to find a good balance between orientation, counselling and encouragement on the one hand and reflecting and teaching the political and social mechanisms that are shaping our realities on the other hand.
With guidance, young people today are capable of reflecting and dealing with the challenges of school to work transition. They can and should be encouraged to find or create spaces for themselves in the working sphere. They can also become agents, who will change the working world for the generations to come.