Friday offered a full day in Munich as Herr Christian Baumann organized a very full morning at his Munich Vocational School for Media Professionals, one that involved a briefing from Herr Jorg Engelmann on the role of German Chambers of Commerce in apprenticeship training, meetings with students, a tour of the school, lunch, and a visit to the Olympic Park, site of the 1972 Munich Olympics. All of these events are described in earlier posts.
Baumann proved to be a delightful. gracious, and and informative host as he described his school, one of five on the site, and outlined his philosophy.
Munich, said Baumann, is an ancient city, founded in 1158 and the city in which vocational education was invented. In 1900 George Kerschensteiner founded the first vocational program in the world; today some 36 municipal schools participate in the VET system, providing education and training in 130 different professions. In addition there are 49 municipal schools for further vocational education offering specialty training in occupations as varied as IT specialists, carpenters, and mechatronics. All told, 40,000 students are in the VET system, with another 10,000 students in further education, all served by 2,600 full time teachers.
Our school, said Baumann, Stadische Berufsschule fur Medienberufe (City Vocational School for Media Professionals) is in the media business. It includes about 1,200 students with 41 teachers offering programs to prepare assistants in marketing and communication, audiovisual materials, digital and print media, media and information services, booksellers, and specialists in event management. It is one of five schools on the site, enrolling in toto some 5,500 students. The others include schools focused on office management, the retail sector, information technology (the largest with 2,000 students), and tax accountancy.
Elsewhere in Bavaria, he noted, the state pays for personnel costs and the municipality covers costs for buildings. In Munich, however, the state overall covers 60% of costs, while the city contributes 40%. What is unusual is that Munich is contributing €100 million toward personnel costs annually, a contribution that greatly impresses the business community and encourages commitment from the corporate world.
In developing apprenticeship programs, he said, the school partners with publishers of books, music, and magazines; media hosts, including television studios and online enterprises; bookstores; advertising companies; libraries; archives, and event technology specialists.
The apprenticeships follow the model described earlier — a two- to three-year experience in which 60 days a year are spent in school, with a program emphasizing professional subjects, and a core curriculum, amplified with nine “elective” courses.
A highlight of the morning was an opportunity to meet and interact with ten students, aged 20-22 years of age. They represented programs in event technology, marketing, print and video media, audio-visual aids, movie production, public libraries, and booksellers. With remarkable composure in front of a room full of American strangers, these young people impressed the Roundtable with their poise and ability to describe what they were doing and what they hoped to accomplish in polished English. Their English was so good, almost all of them could have passed for native English speakers. One actually spoke with an accent from the Six Counties of the north of Ireland, betraying the origins of her English teacher!
Asked about difficulties finding apprenticeship programs, the students reported few challenges. Most seemed to have found opportunities while serving earlier as interns (see post on the role of Chambers of Commerce), or with advice of family of faculty members.
Next, executive director James Harvey was invited to describe American education to our German hosts. He described an American system that is large (some 50 million students) administered with a Rube Goldberg system of 56 states and territories presiding over some 13,000 school districts, each overseen by a school board and a superintendent, ranging in size from less than 100 students to more than one million. A diverse system, he said, it has been transformed in recent decades from one in which just 12% of enrollment was made up of students of color in 1950 to one in which by 2016 fully 52% of enrollment consisted of students of color, many of them from low-income families.
An informative part of the morning was the opportunity to visit the school facilities, to the obvious pride of Herr Baumann, including a stop at the impressive facilities for training students in event management.
Finally, Noell Schmidt of Virginia Schools in Minnesota presented Herr Baumann and Herr Engelmann with gift bags loaded down with “swag” from Roundtable districts, including a memorial clock from the Roundtable. Noell brought the house down with the comment, “I’ve been asked to do this because my name is Schmidt!”