For Ulrike Pflug, the corona pandemic has so far been a “blessing”, as the 49-year-old describes it herself. “I finally had the chance to develop where I had long wanted to be.” From January to April, Pflug completed further training courses in project and quality management and as a certified IT project manager at the training provider GFN. Everything online, of course.
Plow comes from Rettershain. The local community in the Rhein-Lahn district is located in the middle between Koblenz and Wiesbaden, for Pflug it would have been a 45-minute drive in both directions if she had wanted to train herself with a course on site. “It was ideal for me to study at home because I saved an hour and a half of driving time every day,” says Pflug. In addition, learning in this form was still strenuous, but far less stressful.
Greater willingness to pursue further training
In general, the willingness to continue training and thus to re-orientate oneself professionally seems to have increased due to the corona pandemic. For example, the Association of Adult Education Centers of Rhineland-Palatinate eV sees an increased interest in catching up on school leaving certificates at some locations. “This also has to do with the fact that those who do simple work lose their jobs first,” explains Monika Nickels, director of the Mainz-Bingen district adult education center.
Many, including numerous young women, now experienced that they would have no prospects without a school leaving certificate and professional training. The courses, which should start in September, are already booked out, and more are being planned. They would take place in small groups with ten instead of 20 people in the room.
In addition, there is an increased demand for the education bonus, financial support from the Federal Ministry of Education for people with low incomes. “We have already issued as many bonus vouchers as we did from January to October 2020,” explains Nickels. Those who want to develop their linguistic skills or see some catching up to do with digital key skills will benefit from this.
Continuing education and professional reorientation
The training provider GFN, where Pflug took her courses, is also showing great interest in further training and an increasing openness to online offers. In particular, women from rural areas with low incomes who are not mobile benefit from the new formats, as Michaela Ortega-Dax, site manager of the training center in Merzig (Merzig-Wadern) in Saarland explains. “Depending on where you live, you can take the bus for two hours here, maybe the women still have children or are single parents.” In such a situation it is unthinkable to take part in coaching or even further training.
Some of the women came across the homeschooling of their children, for example, to deal with new software or basic computer knowledge or to renew their knowledge. This is also evident in the courses: In the first four months of this year, according to Ortega-Dax, the proportion of women in coaching courses was 62 percent; in 2020 it was 22 percent for the whole year.
Katrin Rehak-Nitsche, member of the state parliament, paints a somewhat more nuanced picture. “Academics in particular use the current situation and take advantage of digital offers,” says the SPD parliamentary spokeswoman for further education policy. But employees who work in industries that are particularly affected by the corona pandemic have also reoriented themselves professionally. Integration courses or courses to catch up on school leaving certificates, on the other hand, are very difficult to implement digitally.
Support for the disadvantaged
An experience that Nickels confirms when it comes to school leaving certificates. “We always start with the participants learning how to work online so that they are prepared if they need to,” she explains. An employee can be called if something does not work technically. A placement test is now mandatory to determine the existing skills. And not everyone has the necessary equipment at home: “In some areas we have to provide people with devices because otherwise they cannot participate,” says Nickels. Most of the participants also go online, but 20 percent fell by the wayside.
According to Rehak-Nitsche, people with a low level of education tend to withdraw. “In addition to the lack of space and technical infrastructure, it is probably also due to the fact that they have to be supported personally and individually in order to create a basis of trust,” says the politician. That is not possible online.
The advanced training has already paid off for Pflug. She found her new full-time job with an IT service provider. From May she will take care of the digitization of schools for the state of Hesse. And she wants to go on. “This is now the return to work after my time in which I took care of the family,” says the mother of one son. In the long term, however, she strives for a management position.