ERGO Foundation supports new project

Young people in Hamburg are prepared for apprenticeships

Responsibility & dedication, 07.09.2018

Under the name of the “Job Locomotive“ staff of the ERGO Foundation “Youth and Future“ have been providing friendly advice on jobs for disadvantaged young people for many years in a variety of Hamburg young people's institutions. The Foundation is now supporting a new pilot project in the Kirchdorf Young People's Centre (Haus der Jugend) in which youngsters from the local school can be employed in hourly paid jobs. Diana Hoffmann-Ratzmer who works for the Foundation introduces the project.


Diana Hoffmann-Ratzmer

Photo: Diana Hoffmann-Ratzmer of the ERGO Foundation "Youth and Future“

First it was the Football World Cup, then the start of the DFB Cup and the German Bundesliga, no end of international matches – TV transmission of these games mean a lot of hard work in the evenings for people in the catering industry. That also applies to some of the youngsters who you look after in the Kirchdorf Youth Centre. Why is that?

Because they have started a regular job for the fist time as part of this project. For example, they work behind the counter in the Youth Centre, also during the football transmissions which the customers are watching. This is a new experience for the youngsters: my work is important and is appreciated – also in financial terms as they receive pocket money for it. This creates great self-confidence.

What sort of people are the youngsters who form the focus of your work as a social worker in this project?

They are school kids of a particular class in a neighbouring school who have completed their school-leaving certificate after year 9 and are now being prepared for an apprenticeship. And whom we are particularly keeping an eye on. Through regular employment they are learning about things which are important in a working environment – being friendly to customers, arriving for work on time, not extending breaks, giving a certain structure to the day. A lot of the young people who come to us don’t know about such things from home. It's the same for girls as well as the boys. We work closely with their teachers.

The School Association for the school is organising the pilot project jointly with the Youth Centre. Why are you running the project in the Youth Centre and not at the school?

If the project took place at the school, participation would have lost much of its voluntary character which is necessary if people are to join in. And: we like to form a bond with the youngsters. They know our institution; that creates trust and they are not frightened of coming to us. And this project also has a lot to do with our work as a foundation. If the young people literally learn how important work is, then in the best case they are also interested in the “Job Locomotive“ which is where they can gather information about the steps to be taken to find an apprenticeship. That's our objective.

What work is there for the kids apart from serving at the counter?

Everything you would expect in a place like this. The jobs are simple and don't need any sort of prior experience. A good example is clearing up and sorting things out in the store-room where we keep everything for the creative events. But working at the counter is particularly popular not just during the football games!

By Monika Stobrawe

ERGO Foundation “Youth and Future“

The ERGO  Foundation “Youth and Future“ was established almost 20 years ago and collaborates with youth welfare organisations in Hamburg to provide young people with advice on jobs. It helps socially disadvantaged young people to discover their potential and thus shape their future in work on their own.

“We work independently of other programmes and without any time-based restriction. If some-one needs our help we stay with the case until the young person has found their own way and is standing on their own two feet“, stated Diana Hoffmann-Ratzmer. A trained social worker, she has been working for the Foundation right from the start. She knows from her own experience that entering the world of work can often be a bumpy ride. She started off as a draughtswoman but had previously dropped out of school and only chose her present career as a second attempt to find her way.“ A further point is that the world of work has become much more complex today. It is often a closed book for young people.“ She sees her task as guiding them through this maze. Over the years she has already advised and coached more than 3000 youngsters. “A very satisfying job“, as she proudly says.

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