48.4011° N • 9.9876° E

Something completely different – finding alternative career paths in Ulm, Germany

Not all of us thrive in mainstream schools. Even Albert Einstein clashed with the authorities at his, deeply resenting the regimented learning which they imposed and which he thought went against the spirit of learning and creative thought.

At Einstein’s birthplace in the city of Ulm in Germany Susan and Kenneth discovered an association called die Andere Baustelle (AB) which is all about finding alternative educational and career paths for young people who cannot or do not want to be schooled in the traditional way.

Andere Baustelle

AB also works with young people who have problems at home, who have been recently resettled and don’t speak the language, who have been abused, who have drug problems, who have mental health problems, who have committed crimes, who are homeless or who have trouble coping with debts or with managing their lives.

The idea is that every person has a right to be there – to study, work and be part of society – no matter what language they speak, what they look like or what their problems may be.

Susann and Kenneth met up with a group of them who turned out to be fans of the Road Trip Project: they even baked two cakes for our travellers (one lemony, one chocolaty, apparently, and they both tasted great)!   

As Petra, one of AB’s case managers told them, there are no set programmes. Instead the case manager will look at the specific life situation and abilities of each individual, their needs and skills, the available resources and the demands of the labour market or of vocational training. They always aim to build on the participant’s existing skills and interests in order to help them experience personal successes.

One of AB’s three core offers is a carpentry workshop micro project that is linked to their EU-funded “Paths to Integration” project. It aims to reach disadvantaged young people who have fallen through other support networks and need urgent and unbureaucratic help.

Working on the renovation of trailers and mobile homes, cultivating garden plots or producing wooden crafts is a way of introducing these young people to almost-but-not-quite standard working conditions. They get to learn social skills, change potentially problematic behaviours, improve their life planning skills and build their ability to cope with the demands of professional life in a safe environment. The final step is entering the “real” labour market through internships and placements.

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