Magazine for Sexuality and Politics

What is Apprentices4Future?

Lucie Wähler

Who are you and how did you come to Azubis4Future?

My name is Lucie, I’m 24 and live in Berlin. Last year I started an apprenticeship as a gardener. Whether it's gardens, playgrounds or parks, wherever there's green, I lend a hand. Although horticulture is generally associated with environmental friendliness, most of my work is neither environmentally friendly, sustainable nor future-oriented. What many people don't know is that gardening and landscaping massively promotes peat extraction, which releases enormous amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, while sustainable alternatives are already available today. In my vocational school, sustainability is already a topic, but what can be observed is that this learning content is not being applied in practice. This is not how I imagined my training in the green sector. I want fair and future-oriented training, which is why I’m involved in Azubis4Future.

What is Azubis4Future?

We are a group of apprentices from many apprenticeship professions who stand up for the sustainability and climate interests of apprentices ranging from actors to politics, business, education, administration and civil society. As future professionals, we are committed to strengthening vocational training in the fight against the climate crisis. The UN's sustainability goals form the framework of our work. We take responsibility and intend to simply future-proof our companies and vocational schools ourselves. This is how we’re going to make our contribution to saving the world. With demands and measures, we show companies and vocational schools a way to fair vocational training. We demand that politicians make vocational training more attractive, for example by introducing minimum training allowances. We want sustainability to be more firmly anchored in all training programs. We are currently writing a catalogue of measures for companies and vocational schools. In this way, as a grassroots movement, we want to put training on a sustainable path from the bottom up.

What has been your greatest success so far?

That's difficult to answer because I think the creation of Azubis4Future is a real success. In a short period of time, we’ve been invited to many discussion rounds and workshops on the topic of sustainability in education. In mid-May we were given the opportunity to present our concerns to the European Commission. Furthermore, we are in contact with various companies. In this way, we have built up a network between trainees, business and politics that is constantly growing.

What are your next steps?

We recently published our demands in which we call on politicians to include significantly more sustainability knowledge as part of our training. We also want to have a stronger say in our companies when it comes to sustainability. There must be no more business as usual, and if no one feels responsible, then we apprentices will take the helm in matters related to sustainability.

Now that we have published our demands, we want to work with companies to identify the levers we can use to drastically increase sustainability throughout these company. Because it is clear to us that we cannot do this alone. Now it depends on the will of all of us. To this end, we are in dialogue with various companies.

In recent years, many apprenticeships have remained vacant, why?

Unfortunately, the number of apprentices has been stagnating for years. Many companies in the trades complain about a lack of young people. In Germany, almost 40 per cent of all apprenticeship places are unfilled. We cannot answer the question as to why vocational training of this kind has such a low status in society. From our point of view, it is due to the lack of incentives on the part of policy-makers. For example, we see a lack of sustainable innovation in companies, a lack of social recognition and few opportunities for participation. In some cases, we trainees are still considered as being cheap labor. The fact is, studying at colleges and universities has become a trend, with the result that many companies complain about too few young people wanting to be apprentices.

How can training be upgraded?

We are seeing an upgrading in the sustainable design of training in terms of working conditions and remuneration but also the consistent conversion to climate-friendly economic and work structures. That is why we’re advocating that training must act as a pivot between business, politics and education. Because fresh change brings about a much-needed, new social value to education.

What do your meetings look like?

We currently meet every two weeks in a hybrid form. That means a colorful mix of online and offline formats. At the beginning there is a news update, what enquiries we have or how the last talks with the companies went. Afterwards we then work in small working groups dealing with public relations, the development of measures and the planning of actions. Everyone who agrees with our consensus, in which we have decided to work in a grassroots, democratic way and who opposes any form of discrimination, is welcome at our meetings.

What gives you hope?

It gives me hope that Azubis4Future seeks to dialogue with companies. By cooperating with different companies, we can create sustainable change, more than politics is doing at the moment.

Azubis4Future is growing into a climate movement that is becoming more and more present and garnering more and more attention. We’re also increasing our presence all over Germany and creating new Azubis4Future groups in cities outside of Berlin.

If you want to follow what we're up to, feel free to follow us on Instagram @azubis4future.

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