Sarah Jagemann was 19 when she had her twins. As such, a joyful event, but not good timing for somebody starting a career. A regular full apprenticeship of 40 hours per week was impossible to follow with two small children, but an apprenticeship with reduced numbers of hours seemed an option.

Several coincidences ultimately led the young woman to the Christliches Jugenddorfwerk Deutschland (CJW – Christian Association of Youth Villages of Germany), where she received assistance with applications, job interviews, etc. She was also given an opportunity of a part-time apprenticeship of 25 hours per week. The young woman worked five hours per day giving her sufficient time for her twins. The apprenticeship lasted three years. Subsequently, Sarah Jagemann was given a permanent contract, also on a part-time basis. ’Now, I work 30 hours a week’, says the 26-year-old mother.

The part-time apprenticeship option is aimed especially at young parents or apprentices with a family responsibility, who, for example, provide care for a relative.

There are two options of applying for a part-time apprenticeship:

(a) direct application for apprenticeship placement and request for part-time training because of a family situation;

(b) be represented by an institution/employment agency such as CJW, who will get in touch with enterprises offering apprenticeships on behalf of the young person. Those thinking about a part-time apprenticeship are well advised to go there first for information.

Large enterprises are particularly open to part-time apprenticeships reports Hans Joachim Beckers, Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) division manager for vocational training and continuing education. ’The basis for part-time apprenticeship is the option of shortening daily or weekly apprenticeship time in the event of legitimate interest as set down in the Berufsbildungsgesetz (BBiG – Vocational Training Act)’, he explains.

An apprenticeship model with a working time of between 20 and 30 hours per week has proven the best. Many apprentices manage to take examinations within the regular training period. As need be, they can choose to prolong the training period. At the same time, vocational school lessons take place in an unchanged full-time format. Both the vocational education curriculum and the final examination also remain the same for part-time apprentices.However, the salary that apprentices get is sometimes reduced and that can become a problem.

So far, only a few apprentices learn and train according to this model. In 2011, only 0.2 % of young people nationwide had an apprenticeship contract with a reduced number of hours. More recent figures are not yet available.

A lot of educational work is required to raise awareness and remove fears and prejudices. At the same time, these part-time apprentices possess maturity and social competence, which their colleagues fresh from school often lack. Mothers and fathers are more  motivated and usually very determined. After all, they want to be a model for their children.

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