Interview with a job counsellor and coach

*The interviewee wishes to remain anonymous

Organisation responsible for the interview: WISAMAR

Country: Germany

Occupation: Job Counsellor and Coach at Joblinge gAG Leipzig

Date of the interview: 20.04.2023

Short summary of the interview

Joblinge gAG Leipzig does not provide individual counselling but accompanies young migrated (first and second-generation) people over an entire project period. Participants vary greatly in their backgrounds, from school dropouts with no certificate to university dropouts. Accordingly, their qualifications and professional experience vary greatly. Right at the beginning of the cooperation, they are asked about their career aspirations and together they try to reach this goal, if realistic. If not, they look for alternatives. This interview holds great information about personal and structural circumstances that influence young people’s career choices.

Statements of utmost importance – top statements/ information

Usually, young people already have an idea of what career they want to pursue, but it is difficult to generalize: In the last years, they chose one of approx. 60 to 70 professions. In general, those are known in their country of origin, bring a certain status, future security and agree with the individuals’ interests. Another very important indicator for many is that it is a job that allows self-employment. Their choices correspond to German “favourite” professions, so there is no difference between the preferences of migrated and not-migrated young people.

On the rise are IT professions, independent of gender, but also independent of own competencies. “Shortage occupations” like care professions are generally unpopular, despite efforts of the German state to win people for them.

According to the interviewee’s estimates, 70% of young people come with an idea of which profession they want to work in. This percentage is again divided into “realistic” and “unrealistic” ideas. The other 30% are again divided in those who

  • do not know what they want to work as, and
  • those who do not know what they want to work as, BUT also know what they do not want to do.

However, even with clear goals, it’s often unclear how to achieve them.

The most important motivation for a job choice is intrinsic, which is tightly knitted with personal interests. However, family is also a significant influencing factor, especially for women. When women reject a profession, they were actually interested in, in most cases the family intervened when hearing about it and do not think it is a good fit for their daughter and/or a good job.  Another element is family history. E.g., “All my brothers have already done something in medicine, so I have to become a medical assistant, too”. Young men are also confronted with influences and demands from the family but tend to free themselves from them more frequently.

One observation is that parental influence tends to be to the detriment of the children, because they decide and advise according to premises that do not (or no longer) play a role in the (German) job market. That makes counselling hard sometimes, because even though the counsellor and protégé build trust over the years and the advice is respected, „the parents are the parents“– their word weighs more. Another influence is family work history, which can be an advantage. Parents as well as their children pay attention to the social status of a profession.

The courses of Joblinge gAG Leipzig attempt to address and refute gender stereotypes. They also offer historically female professions to men and vice versa, if prerequisites and interests fit. If parental influence prevails, young women usually suffer from rejecting such a profession, even if it interests them. As a general rule, women who also apply for traditionally male occupations are more qualified than male applicants for the same position. They are then also gladly invited – most Human Resources Personnel are women, and they are willing to hire women independent of the professional field if the qualifications fit.

The team at Joblinge gAG Leipzig avoids recommending occupations based on gender but rather presents occupations based on skills and interests. However, according to their observations, sometimes young people also choose not to enter a profession because of gender-stereotyped perceptions. Women in particular limit themselves here. Young men are less reluctant to enter traditionally female professions (e.g. physical therapy, medical professions, retail) – lack of qualifications is more of a barrier here.

In general, technical professions and IT are interesting for men, and medical, nursing and social professions for women. Retail is equally relevant for both. All industries that are taken by women are also taken by men. But not the other way around.

When asked for examples, the following were named: Stuccoer is seen as a male profession, just like electrical work, handicraft and production, as well as driving professions. What exactly makes these “male professions” is not named by the young people. But such attitudes then also influence the choice of profession.

In terms of discrimination, it is reported as striking that women with hijab or other religious head coverings are often rejected in the hotel and catering industry because according to the businesses “it does not go with our international, cosmopolitan flair”. Here, staff as well as clients refrain from calling in anti-discrimination agencies so as not to jeopardise further cooperation. It is also seen as safer for those young women to refer them to more non-discriminatory working environments.

Otherwise, racism, xenophobia and sexism are seldom openly visible as Leipzig is described as a “bubble” that may stand out from the rest of Saxony. However, it is important to mention that racism and sexism are regularly reported to take place in vocational schools.