Training instead of studying?

Training instead of studying? An interview with Meike Al-Habash, head of the training advice department of the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce


Bildungsthemen: What are the advantages of training?

Meike Al-Habash: One of the major advantages of training is that it pairs theory with practice. All the theory the trainee learns in vocational school can be applied in practice within the company. Another advantage is the remuneration that each trainee receives during their training. This isn’t the same as a salary, but it’s very handy, particularly for young people who want to be more independent. Training can also be a first step in your career – when I train as a specialist, I can gain more qualifications if I have acquired professional experience. This flexibility is therefore a great advantage – particularly if you don’t know where your journey is headed. 

What are the disadvantages of training?

Prospective trainees need to apply for a place, do interviews, meet the requirements like every employee – and attend college, too. This combination of the practical and theoretical is an aspect which can be very tough for many young people who have just left school. Another disadvantage is the highly rigid professional focus. If I begin training for a certain career and find that it doesn’t suit me, then I really only have the probation period to decide.

What’s a typical routine for a trainee?

A trainee usually spends three days at the company and two at the vocational college. Sometimes the college provides a week-long block of classes and the trainee then spends three weeks a month in the company. The balance varies between states and professions. Training lasts for two or three years. If the applicant has an Abitur, training can be shortened by six months or a year.

How do you find out what training places are available?

There are different platforms, such as trade fairs and websites, where you can find training places. Then there are the ‘matching fairs’. Our next one is in February 2018. At these fairs, anyone interested in training can meet companies and apply then and there. You can also apply to companies directly. Most companies have careers pages where they advertise their current training places. You can apply there, providing a covering letter, your CV and references from school and any previous internships.

Do you have any tips for applying?

The letter should always mention some aspect of the company. Why? Because we all want to hear good things about ourselves. And that goes for the staff or the head of a company, too. Previous professional experience in other industries should also be mentioned in your CV. If the training doesn’t fit the career, applicants often leave this information out. But sometimes these activities show the social skills, such as teamwork and resilience to stress, the applicant has developed in the job.

In the digital age, new careers are emerging all the time. Are new training programmes being created as a result?

Unfortunately, it isn’t keeping pace with the emergence of new careers. However, early next year (2018), training will begin for a new role – e-commerce salesperson. This type of role can be found in online retail or wholesale, but also in many other industries, such as tourism.

Read now: