European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network Database, ELGPN Database

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Name of the good/interesting practice/initiative/policy

Federal Programmes Educational Chains and Coaching for the transition to work for at-risk youth in Germany



I am proposing that this example will be published also in the KSLLL database


1. Background

What makes this an example of good/interesting practice/initiative/policy?
- The motivation of the initiative (What is the history/background of the policy?)
- Linkages with LLG policy priorities (Please add references to other national/EU policies or documents)
- Participants
With the aim to prevent early school leaving as well as to ensure the successful transition from school to vocational education the Educational Chains (Bildungsketten) initiative of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) connects and integrates existing projects and tools. In 2008 the Federal government and the Federal States (Länder) determined as part of the “Initiative for Qualification” quantitative targets for education in the “Dresden statement” These includes the aim to reduce early school leavers from 8% to 4 % and young adults without a vocational education certificate from 17% to 8,5%. In this context the initiative intends to develop a “community of responsibility” among the actors and stakeholders involved in transition from school to vocational education and work. This system will be systemically enhanced to become more efficient in order to respond to demographic changes and the lack in qualified workforce. (Schuck, 1)

In combining different programmes of the labour and education sectors the “Educational Chains” initiative is a good example of inter-sectoral cooperation and coordination (Council resolutions 2004, 2008). It is also a good example of preventive action tackling drop-out and early school leaving. With preventive career guidance activities, the programme also follows the Council Recommendation on the policies to reduce early school leaving (2011/C191/01) where it also is recommended that the members “ensure comprehensive strategies” (like in the “Educational Chains” initiative).

Involved actors and stakeholders are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Länder, the Federal Employment Agency and the social partners .

Aims and targets
- Objectives of the initiative (What did the policy set out to achieve?)
- Target group
- Methods applied to reach the objective (technological and /or pedagogical)
The programme “Educational Chains” aims to support the transition from general into vocational education in the dual system as well as to prevent drop-outs in both systems. It supports young people to prepare for their general school certificate and their vocational education. The central idea is to use existing programmes, that have proved to be successful, and to connect them like links in a chain in order to ensure transparency and efficiency. Among others the initiative in particular involves the programme “Coaching for the transition to work” of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) which was also expanded by the BMBF.

The target groups are pupils and young adults in general education and vocational education who are at risk of dropping out or who are facing difficulties with the transition from school to work. They are selected for participation through an analysis of their potentials. The initiative also aims to provide parents, teachers, social workers, guidance practitioners and vocational education teachers with a professional framework for networking and cooperation.

The “Educational Chains” programme contains 3 elements. It starts with an analysis of potentials in the 7th or 8th year in participating secondary general schools. The analysis focuses on key competences and assesses interests and strengths of the pupils. The results of this analysis constitute the basis for individual curricular and extra-curricular measures. It works like a compass for a structured and systematic career orientation process.

During the career choice process (constituting the 2rd element) measures and activities are intensified and coordinated. Young people make their first vocational experiences, test their interests and talents and gain confidence and optimism. During this phase schools, Employment Agencies (EA) and companies cooperate supporting the pupils with career orientation and with the search for an apprenticeship placement. Young people are encouraged to make an appointment with the career counsellor in the EA and to use the information provided at the Career Information Centre (BIZ). All career orientation activities are of course supported by online resources such as or

Strengthening vocational orientation of pupils in full-time vocational schools, the career orientation programme of the BMBF offers all young people insights of various professional fields through short internship placements and so called workshop-days which they spend in companies.

(For further projects and programmes involved see the narrative below.)

The third element involves the intervention of Educational Coaches as part of the programme “Coaching for the transition to work”. Young people at risk who are selected in cooperation with teachers and social workers are supported individually. Intensive coaching starts one year before reaching the secondary school certificate and continues into the first year of vocational education in order to ensure the continuation of vocational education in the company. The coaches guide the young people; they help with problems and difficulties following an individual support plan on the basis of the results of the analysis of potentials . They also assist the young people with career orientation. The whole process is supervised by the career counsellor of the EA who is responsible for the integration of the young person into a vocational training. Further, the Educational Coaches, who are based in lower secondary schools, cooperate with parents, teachers, voluntary mentors and r companies and other partners who may be involved.

The Educational Coaches are experienced in the dual vocational education system as trainers or social education workers.

2. Implementation

Strategy and actions (Please describe the approach adopted to make the reform work and any actions taken.)
- Level of implementation (national, regional etc.)
- Implementation (description)
In order to manage and coordinate the process, the BMBF set up a steering group of the federation and the Länder. This group is also intended to coordinate and match federal and Länder measures. A further group on federal level is working on proposals to better integrate and coordinate programmes and instruments for NEET. At last, a service office has been set up at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) to accompany, evaluate and communicate the initiative. (Schuck, 5-6)

Previously, in 2008 the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs initiated the programme educational coaches, which is organised by the Federal Employment Agency (FEA). Since then it has been extended to run at 1.000 schools supporting about 30.000 young people. The initiative “Educational Chains” by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research now complements and expands the programme since 2010 with additional 1000 coaches reaching many more young people through the different programmes involved.

Monitoring and evaluation
- What has been put in place for monitoring and evaluation?
- What actors are involved?
Monitoring and evaluation is ensured by the ministries funding the initiative and its integrated programmes.

First reports have been published, particularly on the programme “Coaching for the transition to work”. These use the statistical data base of the FEA as well as questionnaires and telephone interviews with the participating youth, coaches, educators etc. In addition, qualitative case studies are provided.

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has commissioned the evaluation of the outcomes and success of the programme “Coaching for the transition to work” and reports to the German Parliament (the Deutscher Bundestag).

3. Outcomes

Achievements (Please describe the main outcomes/results according to the following headings. Each option can be answered - up to 50 words)
- Specific results
- Cost effectiveness
- Budget
- Innovative aspects
Outcomes are not available yet as the programme started 2009/2010. First results are expected in 2013/2014 when the pilot phase of the programme “Coaching for the transition to work” ends.

However, first intermediate reports on the programme “Coaching for the transition to work” based on questionnaires of all the involved actors and participants show that positive effects on the integration of at-risk youth into vocational education and training are suspected (Straif, 70).

The programmes and tools have been coordinated in the initiative “Educational Chains” in order to become more efficient. The initiative prevents young people from droping-out of schools or spending time waiting for placements in the dual vocational education system or in continuing projects and initiatives. This is intended to save costs for youth unemployment and related societal costs.

The “Educational Chains” programme involves a budget of € 362 million Euros 2010-2014; a longer term approach is already intended.

The cooperation and coordination of programmes and projects run by different federal ministries is an innovative aspect of the initiative. Linking and coordinating different successful projects and programmes so that they effectively work together and build on one another is an important measure to enhance the previously intransparent transition system. In this context it affects positively the cooperation of different responsibilities and hierarchies in the federal structure of Germany.

Voluntary mentoring projects have functioned as examples for the programme “Coaching for the transition to work”. Hence, the programme also involves voluntary work but provides professional support and structures for the voluntary mentors (Straif, 21).

The holistic approach of the initiative “Educational Chains” and the programme “Coaching for the transition to work” takes besides the aquiaition of career management skills also life management skills and career orientation into account. In this context, the municipality, schools, projects and programmes on career orientation follow an coordinated overall concept with a common understanding of career orientation.

On the micro-level the coaches take time with each young person and follow a person-centered approach which differs from the usual logic of the school system (BT DRS 17/3890).

Success factors (What key success factors have led to or prevented success?)
- Lessons learnt
- Unintended impacts (Have there been any unintended impacts? Positive or negative?)

Strengths and weaknesses
- What areas of the policy can we learn lessons from?
- Are there still challenges ahead?
Strengths: First intermediate evaluations of the programme “Coaching for the transition to work” showed that the Coaches value their freedom of action.


First evaluations showed that fluctuation is high among the professional coaches and guidance practitioners because of their status of being only temporarily employed. Hence, continuous personal coaching which has been intended for at-risk youth could not always be delivered (BT DRS 17/3890).

A further challenge for all actors involved is to overcome situation-focussed approaches and crisis-intervention, which have been characteristic for the transition system in the past. It is necessary to reach an ongoing, holistic and preventive guidance process which continues after the young people have left school and therefore change into another system (BT DRS 17/3890).

4. Additional narrative description of the policy/practice/initiative

In addition to the programme “Coaching for the transition to work”, the initiative “Educational Chains” involves the following projects and programmes:

• the senior expert programme (VerA – Initiative for Vocational Education) supports and guides young people in their first year in vocational education and helps them to accustom to the new system, a period which is particularly critical for dropping-out. Senior experts may accompany the young person until the end of vocational education. The senior experts are elder professionals who work voluntarily as coaches in a one-to-one tandem model.
• The career orientation programme (Berufsorientierungsprogramm BOP) which supports practical experiences in companies as part of the career orientation process. For 2 weeks pupils work in 3 different fields in out-plant vocational training centres where they can try out different professions.
• The programme Jobstarter which supports regional projects to increase the number of vocational education opportunities in local companies.
• The programme Jobstarter Connect which tests modules for vocational education to ease the transition into dual vocational education for those young people who could not transfer successfully into dual vocational education after school.
• The special programme coach@school aims at these schools, which are not part of the “coaching for the transition to work” - programme. Coaches in this programme work voluntarily in the schools similar to the senior experts.
All these programmes and tools have been coordinated so that they become more efficient. This prevents also that young people spend time waiting for placements in the dual vocational education system or in continuing projects and initiatives.
For further information see:

Additional information

Name of contact
Dr.Bernhard Jenschke

Role (in policy initiative)
reports on behalf of Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF

Organization name
National Guidance Forum in Education, Career and Employment (Nationales Forum Beratung in Bildung, Beruf und Beschäftigung e.V., nfb)

Nationales Forum Beratung in Bildung, Beruf und Beschäftigung e.V., Kurfürstenstr. 131, 10785 Berlin, Germany




Website address

Documents and publications
Council of the European Union. Council Recommendation on policies to reduce early school leaving. 2011/C191/01. 28 June 2011.

Council of the European Union. Better Integrating Lifelong Guidance into Lifelong Learning Strategies, Doc 14398 EDUC 241 SOC 607, 2008

Council of the European Union. Strengthening Policies, Systems and Practices on Guidance throughout Life. Doc. 9286/04, EDUC 109 SOC 234, 2004.
Deutscher Bundestag: Drucksache 17/3890 Unterrichtung durch die Bundesregierung Zwischenbericht 2010 zur Evaluation der Berufseinstiegsbegleitung nach §421s des Dritte Buches Sozialgesetzbuch.Berlin 2010

Schuck, Ulrich: Abschluss und Anschluss – Bildungsketten bis zum Ausbildungsabschluss“ BBE Newsletter 4/2011.

Straif, Charlotte: Berufseinstiegsbegleitung: Unterstützung individueller Wege in den Beruf. Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, Good Practice Center Benachteiligtenförderung GPC (Ed.). Bonn, 2011.

See also:

Attached files


This information was provided/updated by:
Dr. Bernhard Jenschke, National Guidance Forum

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good practice, initiative, interesting practice, policy, schools, VET, social inclusion, guidance in schools, people at risk, disadvantaged groups, Germany