This week I had the opportunity to witness two very interesting topics in our capital Berlin.
- Let´s Go Europe – International exchange of administrative staff Berlin „LoGo Europe“
- Organizational development of an educational institution (i will report about this in my next article – so stay tuned)
Let´s Go Europe – International exchange of administrative staff Berlin „LoGo Europe!“
Today i want introduce you one of the transnational collaboration projects in Europe which helps to tie up with our neighbor countries and the same time motivates and push our administration stuff of governments forward to be open minded, flexible and get more international know how…
dusty, bureaucratic and inflexible?
You probably think a Berlin city district office is a dusty, bureaucratic, inflexible place where people only speak German!? Think again! For over ten years, the EU representatives at the Berlin city district offices have been committed to ensuring that employees can complete an internship or job-shadowing project in other European countries, promoting modern administration in berlin town halls by colleagues with an intercultural attitude and approach.
With the „ConAct Europe“ and „LoGo! Europe“ projects, the Berlin city district administrations have been initiating exchanges with public administrations in various European cities since 2005. In the first seven projects they carried out so far, over 190 employees from the various city district administrations have completed several weeks of practical internships in 26 Euro- pean cities. The countries included in the cooperation projects are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Ireland, Italy, the Nether- lands, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
The „ConAct Europe“ and „LoGo! Europe“ projects motivate and qualify participants of European cooperation tasks and promote approaches based on European thinking and partnership in the Berlin city district administrations. Transnational exchange projects require both mobility and mental agility from their participants. Projects of this type focus on the acquisition and improvement of intercultural competence, language skills and knowledge of the operating methods of European administrations.
„LoGo Europe!“ and Berlin districts…
As part of the „LoGo Europe!“ internship program, this year 31 staff members of the administrations in took part in the program throughout Berlin, and took up the internship in 21 different locations. For example, from the district of Berlin Mitte there were seven colleagues who have been collecting their European experiences since September in Istanbul, Zurich, Vienna, Malmö and Zagreb.
On average, the interns spend a month with a foreign partner city and sit there in the administration together with colleagues of the receiving country.
You have to know that in the early days of these staff exchange programs, these were financed by the EU. Berlin, however, did not hesitate to continue the concept independently and to finance it after the end of EU financing. In my opinion this is very exemplary and successfully meet the expectations and results as i could see this week.
The final event of this program took place on November 27, 2018 in the historic town hall Schöneberg in Berlin.
This town hall is famous not only by its heritage look but also because John F. Kennedy the former U.S. President. „Ich bin ein Berliner„ (German pronunciation: [ˈʔɪç ˈbɪn ʔaɪn bɛɐ̯ˈliːnɐ], „I am a Berliner„) is a quotation of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, in a speech given on June 26, 1963, in West Berlin.
At 4:00 pm, the interns, representatives of the administration and representatives of some of the host countries, such as Austria, Italy, Great Britain and Poland, met.
Somewhat a pity I found the weak cast of leadership from Berlin itself. In addition to Gerryy Woop the state secretary for europe, only two district mayor was present there. Since the districts have so-called European Commissioners, often they took the representative task. Nevertheless, in a city like Berlin, I would have liked more participating district mayors.
Well, no matter it was a very successful and dignified event at the historical city hall Schöneberg.
The guests were greeted by district mayor Angelika Schöttler and Gerry Woop who is state secretary for Europe – he spoke the greeting word.
The importance of the program was underlined and credibly from my perception, the reasons and objectives clearly underlined as well.
Afterwards Cordula Kaatz introduced the importance to knowledge management by an very interesting impulse speech.
This was followed by the greetings of the partner administrations with Dr. Ing. Christian Wimmer from Austria (Vienna), Sharon Davidson from London (Borough of Barnet), Magdalena Rupek from Poland (Koszalin) and Daniela Messina from Italy (Palermo). Especially Dr. Wimmer explained not just the importance of such programs but also showed us some impressive numbers about this topic in Austria.
Then each graduate received a certificate – the so-called Europass. The Europass records the knowledge and skills acquired in another European country and is issued by cedefop.
Cedefop is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies. Founded (1) in 1975 and based in Greece since 1995, Cedefop supports development of European vocational education and training (VET) policies and contributes to their implementation. The agency is helping the European Commission, EU Member States and the social partners to develop the right European VET policies.
Why is that important?
Europe’s strategy for 2020 (2) is a route for smart, sustainable and inclusive economic growth through knowledge and innovation, which sets an employment rate target of 75%.
The success of this strategy depends on the skills of Europe’s workforce. Enterprises need people with the skills required to compete and provide high-quality goods and services.
People need the right qualifications to find jobs. People with low levels of or no qualification are nearly three times more likely to be unemployed than those with high qualifications. In the EU, around 75 million people, nearly a third of the working population, have low levels of or no qualification. Too many young people, around 15%, leave school without any qualifications.
But back to the event, selected 5 interns had the opportunity to explain their findings and experiences in the context of short presentations or short presentations.
As far as I could tell the participants were not just „ordinary officials“ It was a colorful mix, in terms of gender, age structure and especially the functions. Thus, younger and older members of the administration would be in the program, just as there were executives and senior officials in the program as interns. It was a fine example of working diversity, as were the themed areas. From social work to refugee assistance to the public office and the adult education center.
When i was cycling for my initiative 6300 km from Norway to greece in autumn this year i also passed by Zurich in Switzerland. There, in my home stay accommodation i meet one night a young girl from berlin. We had an very inspiring chat and discussed nearly the whole world up to 3:00 am. She was one of the participants of this program – Sandra Schulz.
Sandra who is responsible for the quality management at the „Volkshochschule (VHS) Berlin Mitte“ (adult education centre Berlin center) was in Zurich attending the VHS Zurich for 4 Weeks. (see her Blog *in german language*)
Remark: such learning institutions in Germany, Switzerland and Austria are usually funded on a local level and provide non-credit courses for adults in:
- general education
- vocational education
- political education
- German as a second language (especially for immigrants)
- integration courses (especially for newly arrived refugees)
- various foreign languages
- various forms of art
- information technology
- health education
- preparatory classes for school exams (especially for the Abitur or Matura)
This type of educational centers are currently most widespread in Germany. Because they offer preparatory classes for school exams, in Germany these schools also function as the equivalent of adult high schools in other countries.
In Germany we have around 900 of such schools. More than 9 million participants with over 18 million hours lessons taking part. There are more than 700000 classes/events a year.
The attendees not only go to other cities just for fun. They leave the family at home like Sandra who have 3 children. They get into an unknown situation as no one knows before how the exchange there will work exactly. Some even are faced to other languages, different cultures and complete new surrounding without anyone they know. Challenges are normal in such programs i´ill say.
Sandra was also one of the 5 who are promoted to introduce their experience on this exchange program so invited me together with her Europe Commissioner to attend the event as guest which was a great honor for me. The same time my function was to offer her a professional feedback on her presentation as she not like such kind of „stay in the spotlight“ situations. And of course we exchange also my experience on speeches to support her preparation.
She did very well, even she don’t like it. But she introduced not only the facts and learning points. She also shows the exchange results – what her institute could learn from zurich and what the zurich institute could learn from here. Some ideas already taken into action she told us.
In total my feeling after all the speeches and introductions of the leaders and government representatives are clear: Such cooperations help to build trust between administrations, to create common interfaces and to learn from each other across borders. It is once again a beautiful example of: „alone you can achieve much, together with everything else“
At the actual situation of europe and especially the European union i strongly believe we need more to such transnational collaborations. It´s not only work experiance exchange – it´s build up cultural bridges, life experiance and tourism dreams.
But most impressive to me are the fact that all the participants brought home several clear structured results they will implement into their direct work in their departments to improve their work.
Respect to Berlin and all cities are participating on such kind of formats.