What do you think of schools that fail entrepreneurs

Bureaucracy hurdlesWhy the digital pact for schools and the training bonuses have failed so far

After much back and forth, the Basic Law was changed in 2019: Although schools are a matter for the federal states, the federal government has been able to invest money in the education sector since then. One such measure is the "School Digital Pact", which was passed in May 2019. The federal government is making five billion euros available over five years to purchase digital boards, learning platforms, WiFi and tablets. To date, however, little of this has been received by schools, as can be seen from a response by the federal government to a question from the FDP in the Bundestag. More than a year after the start, only around 16 million euros of the five billion have been called. Why is it all taking so long? Many schools and school authorities simply fail because of the high bureaucratic hurdles of the digital pact, according to the municipalities and teachers' unions.

The companies express themselves in a similar way. With a total of 400 million euros, in-company training is to be secured even in the corona crisis. The so-called training bonus is intended to prevent the trainees from saving. But not every company can benefit from it, complain the chambers of crafts. There are more and more catches and restrictions due to the bureaucracy.

Why is digitization going so slowly at school?

For federal funding, the schools have to present a technical-pedagogical "media development plan" - in other words, explain what they actually need and how they want to use the devices pedagogically. The schools have to develop the plan with the administrations, which have been weakened since mid-March. You need to get the teaching staff on board and determine which students have their own devices. The teachers' union GEW therefore urgently advises the creation of advisory structures. The schools lack the technical know-how, the municipalities lack the pedagogical one. It should also be clarified who is maintaining the school IT. So far, this complex task has often been done by teachers.

But that is not the only thing that keeps schools and coming from applying for funds from the digital pact. In general, there is a lack of fast Internet connections across Germany, WLAN in every classroom and mobile devices for schoolchildren. Legal requirements such as the European General Data Protection Regulation DSGVOD could also slow down digital teaching in the pandemic. Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic was a start "from zero to one hundred" in terms of digitization, says educational researcher Ulrich Schmid from the private research institute mmb. All of a sudden you noticed that there was a lack of functioning systems on the technical side and that the country solutions were not working. The funding guidelines were also debated for too long. While schools in Bavaria are allowed to lease laptops and Ipads, for example, the devices have to be bought in North Rhine-Westphalia. That is cheaper. The state government has not yet clarified what happens to the devices in five years when they are out of date.

(picture alliance / dpa / Sebastian Gollnow) Schools need IT staff
School IT is a complex task. Currently, these are often taken on by teachers on the side - one reason why digital teaching is not getting anywhere. What is needed are employees who take care of IT full-time. IT departments that are responsible for several schools are also conceivable.

What do schools need for digitization?

For the successful implementation of the digital pact, teachers, trade unions and education experts demand:

  • a coordinated, comprehensive and well-planned digital infrastructure
  • Software and end devices for all teachers and students
  • Full-time IT staff or IT departments for multiple schools
  • external advice for the "media development plan"
  • the continuous management and digital further education of teachers and students
  • accelerated application processes by local governments
  • solid financing of the follow-up costs through the investments

Why do only a few companies get the training bonus?

Every company can receive 2000 euros per apprenticeship position for one year of apprenticeship. Companies that increase the number of their places receive 3,000 euros for each additional training place. There is also a bonus of 3,000 euros for companies that take on trainees from companies that are insolvent due to pandemics. However, the state training bonus entails considerable bureaucratic effort, as the chambers of crafts criticize. The companies first have to prove that they have been significantly affected by the crisis, and the conditions for funding have now been tightened. There is not enough money for everyone, it is said in a nutshell from the responsible Federal Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs.

This means that short-time working and lost sales are not always sufficient for the bonus. "A company must have been on short-time work for at least one month. It must have made less than 60 percent of the previous year's sales in the same period over two months."[*] Those are the strict rules, criticizes Hjalmar, the President of the Hamburg Chamber of Crafts, in order to get money from the bonus pot totaling 400 million euros. This excludes many small and medium-sized companies that were also affected by Corona, but not that hard. You are not allowed to apply for the funds.

(Picture Alliance / dpa / Wolfgang Kumm) Corona and trainees - everything turned upside down
The new training year traditionally starts at the beginning of August. But this summer everything is different and dreams are bursting for some trainees. Because the corona pandemic has made the path to an apprenticeship contract more difficult. Politics and business want to take countermeasures.

What could secure apprenticeships in the companies?

2,000 to 3,000 euros in support per training position - with this, the companies concerned could only make up for a small part of the costs, criticize training experts at the Institute for German Economy in Berlin. "We are currently at almost 21,000 euros gross costs that an apprentice costs in the company each year," says DIW employee Dirk Werner. "In the end, the agreed sum may not provide the decisive impetus for an apprenticeship contract to be concluded." The government may have to step up again.

(imago / Thomas Köhler) 3,000 euro training bonus earns praise and criticism
So that the shortage of skilled workers does not worsen due to the corona crisis, the federal government has decided on a training bonus. It is intended to subsidize companies with up to 3,000 euros per trainee if they can keep the number of their training positions stable or even increase them.

But the financial hardship is not the only problem facing companies, says Jürgen Hindenberg, who is responsible for training and further education at the Bonn / Rhein-Sieg Chamber of Commerce and Industry. According to a survey by the IHK Bonn / Rhein-Sieg, 28 percent of all companies can for economic reasons on August 1st. or 1.9. Do not start training this year. On the other hand - the schools are closed, the employment agencies can only be reached online, the young people are very reluctant to take advantage of the digital offers - there are no applicants in other companies. That is why information campaigns are necessary.

(With material from contributions by Stephanie Kowalewski and Thomas Samboll)

[*] Editor's note: A transcription error has been corrected in this interview.