The world is in flux, which impacts the working world. Thus, a good education provides more than just expertise. It strengthens the social skills of young people and hence their ability to constantly master different situations. ECKART offers trainees the opportunity to get a taste of a completely different kind of work environment during a so-called Social Week. Franziska Bertl spent this week at a daycare center and learned one thing above all: success hinges on interaction.


Learning from Children
Spending five days at a daycare center rather than in an office means being confronted with pure energy in the form of 60 different personalities aged two to ten, including children with a migration background. Some posed great challenges to the trainees, while others simply sought affection; some were talkative, while others were reserved.

Despite having different character traits, at some point all of the children learn a little more about the world, things that are a matter of course for adults. “That was the nicest thing during those turbulent days,” says Franziska Bertl. “Working with children, you can experience how they conquer the world step by step.”

The prospective industrial clerk helped the kids put things together and supervised their homework. She fed the youngest ones and oversaw ball games, answered questions and sang songs. She settled disputes and dried tears. “All in all, the Social Week was an experience I wouldn’t want to have missed,” says the 21-year-old. “I learned things that I can pass on at work.”

Expertise Is Not the Only Thing That Counts
That is exactly what this offer is about, says Michael Pöhringer, the training manager at ECKART. “The young people should improve their social skills and become aware of how important this ability is, alongside expertise, for advancing their careers and for everyday life,” says the training manager.

That’s why the company offers all trainees the opportunity to voluntarily spend a week in a different work environment. In addition to two daycare centers, a rescue service, a retirement home, a facility for the disabled, and a farm have expressed their willingness to cooperate with the pigment manufacturer.

Reflecting Experiences
The Social Week is accompanied by a preliminary and a follow-up talk that ECKART trainer Julia Müller holds with the young adults focusing on social skills. “In the preliminary talks, we clarify the skill targets that the trainees associate with their stay at the location in question,” explains the trainer. “In the follow-up talks, we reflect on all of the experience gained and analyze how it can be transferred to work life.”

In the case of Franziska Bertl, the main goal was to be able to cope with conflict. “How do you de-escalate conflicts?” Another topic was nonverbal communi­cation. “How do you communicate with children who neither speak nor understand German?” For both situations, the trainee says, she found successful strategies. “Overall, the week brought it home to me again how important it is to offer compromises when you want to settle a dispute,” she says.

Franziska Bertl was one of the first trainees to take advantage of ECKART’s unusual educational offer, and her example caught on. The company’s offer has been extremely well received by the young women and men, observes training manager Pöhringer. Almost all of them want to take part. The concept also met with a positive response in the rest of the company. “The colleagues are happy when the trainees bring their newly acquired skills into the teams.”

How unusual! That was Franziska Bertl’s first thought when she found out about the offer of the Social Week. She gathered many new impressions and experiences during her foray into an unknown work environment.

The soon-to-be industrial clerk’s most important realization: the Social Week made another important contribution to her ability to cope with change.