July 14, 2016
Being in unfamiliar situations can be unpleasant. But challenging yourself and jumping over your own shadow often means that in future you find it easier to bring yourself to do it, that you grow as a person and become more enterprising, brave and successful.
I am visiting the production college Klemmenstrupgård in Køge, a partner in the project JUMP, to learn how exactly the project makes a difference for young people who find it difficult to complete an education and to learn how JUMP differs from other education projects.
“Once you have thrown caution to the wind, it is going to be a little bit easier next time,” Peter Grove Andreasen explains. He is a teacher and international coordinator at Produktionshøjskolen Klemmenstrupgård and a project manager in JUMP.
Facing the unknown
JUMP stands for Jobs through Development (Udvikling), Mobility and Practice. The idea behind the project is to gradually send the students into unfamiliar territory while academic evaluations, at the same time, collect knowledge about what is working. The target is to prepare the young people to be better at navigating and getting on in the education system and in the job market.
“In Germany they have the idea that if you send students to other countries then they learn something different. We had some German exchange students at our school a couple of years ago and we observed the effect of this on both the German and the Danish students. It is not only really exiting to meet somebody from the outside – it is character building and for young people it can have a big impact on how their lives develop. That is why we chose to be a part of JUMP.”
Peter Grove Andreasen shows me around the impressive facilities of Klemmenstrupgård, which include everything from a nursery to wood and metal workshops, design rooms and much more. Everywhere young people are busy producing goods that are actually being sold in the local area and to distributors.
But is it worth it, is my question for Peter. Why use resources on young people who for some reason have not got the mentality or the qualifications to learn what they need to in school?
Peter immediately replies that as a society we cannot afford to do anything else and he compares JUMP to the health system: “What we do for the young people today is going to benefit everybody in the future. It is financially worthwhile to help the young people here and now and thus save the state and the local councils a lot of future costs. We are seeking the preventive effect, exactly like the health system. Besides, the young people have many different resources. We really want to develop these resources to the benefit of both society and the individual young person.”
A three-stage rocket
We stop in a beautiful bright room with timber frame construction. A group of young people are listening intently to a teacher holding a modern camera. Students are taught video production, website construction and digital communication. After saying hello to the busy students, Peter tells me more about JUMP’s so-called three-stage rocket that increasingly challenges the young people:
“In the first step the young people are sent to visit one of the German partners for one day. The next step is a three-day stay at one of the workshops of the German schools where the students really get an idea of daily life on the other side of the Fehmarn Belt. In the last step the young people are sent to do proper work for two weeks in one of the so far thirteen German companies that take part in JUMP. Here they are really put to the test in unfamiliar surroundings. The German students get a similar experience in Denmark.”
Klemmenstrupgård already has positive experiences from using local companies as active partners to improve the qualifications of young people. And the unique thing about JUMP is this very cooperation with private companies. JUMP is not just a cross-border project or a way of arranging internships. The goal of JUMP is to break down barriers and support initiatives of both the company and the young people that facilitate the transition from school life to working life.
“We don’t just throw the young people in at the deep end, we give them both water wings and a swimming ring and slowly they get used to swimming alone. Besides, participation is completely voluntary.”
Academic evaluation and Future Camps
In order to fully take advantage of the JUMP project it has an academic superstructure. Both Europa-Universität Flensburg and Roskilde University continuously analyse JUMP’s new approaches and learning styles. JUMP is not a closed unit but has a basic goal of developing new models and methods to create positive change for young people and companies after the project ends in 2019.
In addition to the university analyses the involved parties continuously develop the project. This happens at the biannual so-called Future Camps that are divided into two parts. One is for the teachers, the other one is for the students.
The teachers create new specific teaching and development tools to empower the students, while companies add to the process with their experience and knowledge on practical measures.
Students have to participate actively in the development of JUMP on their own evaluation trip, which also serves as a recruitment tool for companies.
Back at Klemmenstrupgård I think about the importance JUMP can have for the work with young people who do not perform well in school. We know that it is extremely expensive to leave young people without any future, visions or labour market attachment. At the same time demographic trends show that in a decade’s time we are going to need all the manpower we can mobilise. The specific methods, teaching and development tools that are being generated in this cross-border cooperation will incorporate the best from both Germany and Denmark, it will pave the way for better cooperation between the administrations of the countries, give new tools and new frames of understanding to passionate people who work with young people, and at the same time open the eyes of the central characters for the possibilities on the European job market.
Reporting from Jeppe Pers, Communications Officer – Interreg Deutschland-Danmark.Mathew Lowry