Dusan Ristic is 16 years old and attends the 3rd secondary school in Bad Ragaz. He has just received an acceptance letter from Wilpag AG in Mels: He will be allowed to complete an apprenticeship as a polymechanic at the construction machinery company. "I'm really happy," Dusan says on the phone. The search for an apprenticeship was not easy.
Because of Corona, the career choice events in Sarganserland and Werdenberg had to be cancelled. Also, transregional fairs such as the Ostschweizer Bildungs-Ausstellung OBA did not take place. In addition, there are many apprenticeship companies that cannot offer trial apprenticeships at the moment. The reasons given are Corona-related closures, the home office obligation or elaborate protection concepts. "In one case I had an acceptance for a trial apprenticeship in a company. However, this was then withdrawn. Because of Corona, the company had to cancel jobs, including the apprenticeship," Dusan explains, "Luckily I had started looking for an apprenticeship early enough!"
Dusan already attended the Fitna technology days of the Sarganserland-Werdenberg area in 2018 and 2019. There, the 16-year-old came into contact with Wilpag AG for the first time. Over a total of three days, he attended workshops at various companies in Sarganserland, Werdenberg and Liechtenstein. "Thanks to Fitna, I got a very good, practical insight into technical and scientific professions."
Two more years passed before Dusan finally decided to become a polymechanic. "During Corona, I mainly watched videos of professions and companies that interested me," says the youngster, "the career guidance also helped me a lot!" In January, he was allowed to complete a trial apprenticeship at Wilpag AG while adhering to a protection concept. "Since then it's been clear: I want to be a polymechanic!" laughs Dusan. He likes the diversity of the job, always being in motion and being able to hold the result of his work in his hands as a product. "I can hardly wait to finally start my apprenticeship!
The organisers of the Sarganserland careers event came up with an alternative for the cancelled event. They have posted videos of apprenticeship companies from Werdenberg and Sarganserland on their website. In the short films, the trainers introduce the company and apprentices talk about their work. "It's a poor substitute for the career choice event. But at least the students get a little insight into the company and its values," says Michael Dürst, head of the Sarganserland career counselling centre and OC member. The feedback on the videos was very good. They were viewed around 6,000 times in total. "Nevertheless, I am happy if we can hold another proper career event," admits Dürst.
The next “Sarganserländer Berufswahlevent” is planned for Friday, 19 November, and Saturday, 20 November, in the Flumserei. "We plan to hold the event in the usual framework, i.e. with around 50 companies. However, we reserve the right to make a plan B with fewer exhibitors or more space," explains Michael Dürst. At the career event, master instructors and apprentices present their companies and show machines and products. On a stage there will be input from career guidance. Apprentices talk about their experience and give tips on finding an apprenticeship. As in previous years, Friday is reserved for school classes. On Saturday, the career event is open to all interested young people and their parents.
The organisers of the cancelled Werdenberg career choice event "Lehre statt Leere" have also come up with an alternative. The Sarganserland-Werdenberg Employers' Association is offering interested companies the opportunity to present themselves virtually. On Monday, 15 and 22 February, there will be an online conference with the students of the second secondary schools in the Werdenberg region. "We want to make it possible for the pupils and companies to get in touch with each other despite this situation!" explains Christian Eggenberger, secretary of the Sarganserland-Werdenberg employers' association. More than 30 companies from Werdenberg and the Principality of Liechtenstein are taking part. Each company is allowed to present itself to the students for 20 minutes, followed by a question and answer session. "Who knows, maybe online conferences and videos will also be in demand in the future as a supplement to the career choice events," says Christian Eggenberger.
The Sarganserland-Werdenberg Employers' Association gives the companies free rein in their online conference - whether it's a PowerPoint presentation, a live link to the factory or an interesting interview with apprentices: The main thing is that the pupils get an interesting insight into the various occupational fields.
One of the companies presenting itself at the online conference is Merck in Buchs. Abdurahman Abduli, head of training, is in charge of the programme. He personally finds it very important that the students are offered alternatives during this extraordinary time: "The young people are suffering from the current situation. We urgently need to support them." Conversely, the companies are also dependent on training new skilled workers, Abdurahman Abduli emphasises: "The online conference is therefore the chance to present yourself to a large number of potential apprentices within a very short time. At a career exhibition, you never have everyone's full attention!" The career choice event "Lehre statt Leere" is also scheduled to take place again in Räfis at the end of the year in the usual setting. The exact date has not yet been fixed.