Those who know the direction in which they wish to go will find it easier to arrive at their destination. Early vocational orientation and the fostering of cross-cutting core skills help ensure seamless transitions from school to the world of work.
With this thought in mind, in 2008 the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched a programme entitled "Supporting vocational orientation in inter-company vocational training centres and comparable VET centres" (BOP), initially in the form of a pilot phase. The high degree of acceptance of the programme on the part of the stakeholders involved led to its full-scale adoption ahead of schedule in June 2010.
The objective is to offer to school pupils 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 pupils attending schools of general education. Funding is provided for an analysis of potential (Potenzialanalyse), which usually takes place during the second half of Year 7, and for workshops in Year 8. The analysis of potential enables pupils to arrive at an initial assessment of their own predispositions and competences. Following this, the two-week workshops (Werkstatttage) provide them with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with at least three occupational fields.
The preventative approach adopted by the programme contributes towards the avoidance of training dropouts and assists in reducing the number of unplaced training applicants during the transitional phase.
Funding guidelines stipulate that the measures are conducted at an inter-company training centre or at a comparable institution with experience in the provision of initial vocational education and training.
The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) is in charge of overall programme management. Institutions apply for funding to the BIBB and conclude a cooperation agreement with the participating schools for the implementation of the programme. Furthermore BIBB supports the programme by providing evaluation and academic research and technical expertise. It also monitors progress and identifies any amendments that may be required.
The Vocational Orientation Programme forms part of the BMBF “Educational Chains Initiative”, the objective of which is to interlock the various vocational orientation funding instruments like the links of a chain.