6a - Youth culture

 Statistics on youth
Good training can contribute to better competencies and thus to greater employability of young people.

In Europe (27 countries), the percentage of young people from 20 to 24 years who have completed upper secondary education increased from 76.6% in 2000 to 78.1% in 2008. At the same time, the rate of youth (18 - 24 years) who have completed at least lower secondary education is decreasing.

Unfortunately, the rate of unemployed young people between 15 and 24 years of age is increasing, and in March 2009 there were up to 5,001.000 unemployed youth.

Further statistics, see Eurostat

Individualisation is a growing tendency: in families, day care, school and work. How do youths react to living in a time of individualisation?

The learning plan or, in this case, training plan can be part of individualisation. You can help your apprentice draw up a training plan. Write down together the goals that you and your apprentice hope to achieve during the training. In this way, the apprentice will feel that he/she is something special and you will be able to check whether goals are achieved.

Additional information on the learning plan can be found on Wikipedia

Choice of education is often a part of an individualised profile. But not everyone can be a famous chef!

At the same time, many youths feel they have to "choose for life", which is difficult.

There may come a phase in the apprentice's training, where the youth has to learn to live with his/her choice of training, and realize, that he/she can't be the "best in the world" right from the start.  

In Denmark, Read more


 Having your hand held

Various European countries such as Denmark and Slovenia report a parallel tendency: Young people have "had their hands held" throughout their upbringing.

Their parents have invested in their child just as in the rest of their lives, their career, house, travels, etc.

Parents can be very involved in their child’s life, driving him/her to and from school and activities, demanding the best for the child in school, etc.

This means that while the youth is expected to be independent, he/she is still used to a lot of attention. The youth is used to being the most important person, and having their way paved.

This can now collide with suddenly being at the bottom of a hierarchy in a company and having to manage your own problems.


Through the last decades, Europe has become a society, where consumption reflects quality of life. This is what young people have grown up with. Compared to earlier generations, young people have - and spend - a lot of money!

They know all about expensive brands and their prestige value. You profile yourself through consuming. - That is, if you have the money! For other youths, consumerism can seem like an expectation they can't live up to.

For you, it is essential to communicate the company's attitude:

How does the youth's appearance fit into company culture?

What is your company policy regarding consumption of company resources?

 Gender issues
Some trades have traditionally been dominated by one sex. This is slowly changing. Technological growth has helped this development.

Is there a difference between training a young man or woman? - Remember: The young man or woman isn't doing the training to get special treatment, but to become a skilled worker!

Still, it can affect a workplace, if a woman enters a group of only men, or the other way around. Girls and boys are not exactly alike, and some conditions can be gender-specific, for better or worse.

The trainer's job is to promote a high degree of professionalism and ensure optimal training conditions. 
  • Can you actively incorporate the positive influence the boy/girl has on your training? But be careful: don't  'set in cement'  the special role he/she has.
  • Make sure that there is no bullying going on. Can the new apprentice be offended by the tone in the workplace?
  • On a practical note: In order to be approved as a workplace, the facilities should be in order (such as restrooms and changing rooms)

A trainer in a German company says:"If there is just one girl in the group, the tone changes. There is more openness and patience with each other". 

 Handling new apprentice types
The company's attitude
You often hear: "Young people today are not like we were" - No, of course not. Times have changed and there are new possibilities and values. And some of the old values have disappeared. This can be regrettable. The question then is:
    Source: ALPS, Active Learning Practice for Schools
  • Which of the old values should we hold on to in our training? These are values that customers expect from you, so you have to expect them from your apprentice, also.
  • Which of the new values can we incorporate into the company? These new values can also be important for achieving training goals. Or can help you become an even better worker or get you in touch with new types of customers.
You've already clarified expectations at the beginning of the training.
  • Use consultations to follow up on mutual expectations.
  • Use the Training Spiral model to explain routine jobs and the 4 levels of performance.
  • Slowly increase challenges for the apprentice

Outward appearance and demeanor
Individualisation is also expressed in the young people's relationship to looks and to their body: Clothes, jewellery, piercing, tattoos, etc. This applies to both boys and girls!

  • Some young people are very creative with their appearance and express themselves through it. They exercise, have nice clothes and take care of their bodies.
  • Others have an exaggerated use of clothes and body care products.

And there can be other extreme situations, but you have to remember: The trainer is not a social worker. Some young people are emotionally more "fragile" than is immediately obvious and more than a company can handle on their own. Get help!

But bring it to the apprentice's attention, if you think he/she needs physical strength and stamina, for example in construction. You can, for example, talk to him/her about fitness or jogging or you can invite him/her to join your company’s group workout, if this is an option.

Example from a plumbing and heating company in Denmark
Niels Mølgaard A/S in Århus with about 30 employees has made their own soccer team. This not only benefits the workers physically, but also the social interaction in the company.
 Employment statistics

The unemployment rate in EU countries is slowly but constantly dropping. In 2008 the unemployment rate among young people (under 25 years old) was 15.5.%.

It should be the goal of society to decrease this rate even more.



 Communication and sense of time
Within the last two decades, development in communication technology has exploded. For young people, the mobile phone, chat or blog are an ordinary part of daily life.

This has created new communication patterns: For example, it isn't necessary to make definite dates with your friends, because you can always get a hold of them. Whenever you feel like it, you just go wherever your friends are.

For the same reason, young people often do several things at the same time, such as sending a text message in the middle of a conversation.

Young people, then, are trained in adaptability, flexibility and "multi-tasking", but concentration, limits and structure may be difficult for them. They need to understand what an agreement means in your company!
 "The nomad"

An alarming number of young people have prospects of a future as a "perpetual nomad", moving between different educational programmes, unemployment projects and temporary jobs. These can be young people who are unsure of choices, can't pull themselves together, have problems concentrating, come from difficult social backgrounds or want to do something that isn't immediately possible.

Vocational education's answer to these problems is to address each youth as an individual, who needs clarification about his/her situation and to develop individual competencies.

But the solution isn't easy: Is the young person able to seize the possibilities? Do we have solutions that match the individual's problems and resources?

 Module 6d - Adults as learners

6 - The apprentice's background