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Involving parents in the recruitment of new recruits

Parents continue to play a decisive role in their children’s career orientation and are important discussion partners. However, decision-making is becoming increasingly difficult due to the growing complexity and opacity of education and training paths. Many young people – but also their parents – are afraid of making what they perceive to be the wrong decision. Although parents have a considerable influence on their children’s career orientation, they perceive the support role differently. This may be due to ignorance, increased ambition, as well as feelings of being overwhelmed, perplexed or helpless. Therefore, it is important to support parents in this career orientation process.

On September 15, 2023, ProduktionNRW held an exchange of experiences for the mechanical and plant engineering sector in North Rhine-Westphalia at the company GEA Westfalia Separator Group GmbH in Oelde to discuss ways to involve parents in the career orientation process. Although other players may have a greater responsibility in this respect, companies also have various starting points for strengthening and deepening their own efforts.

Bringing Parents on Board – Vocational Orientation with Strategy

Miriam Schöpp, a consultant for vocational education at the Competence Center for Skilled Workforce Assurance (KOFA) at the Institute of the German Economy (IW), began by outlining the role of parents in vocational orientation. Various surveys show that parents and family play a central role in this process and are involved at various points in an advisory capacity, as process support and as a source of motivation. Despite this central importance, many parents are often not sufficiently informed about the career choices of their children. Many have no idea of future career options. The surveys also show that companies are important as exchange partners – more important than teachers at schools, for example.

There are numerous ways for companies to reach parents of potential apprentices. In addition to school cooperations with company tours, career orientation days or internships, designing events for parents requires more creativity. These include, for example, parents’ evenings, intercultural offers such as a parents’ coffee or parent-student and student workshops. Career orientation could be combined with other topics or events here to create an additional experience. In principle, companies should communicate to parents that their offspring are coming to a good environment, that they have the prospect of a secure income, that training is the start of their professional future, and that they emphasize the attractiveness of the training company.

Practical report: The company as caretaker

Ralph Hackelbörger, Training Manager, and Michael Steinkamp, Dual Study Coordinator, both at GEA Westfalia Separator Group GmbH, then presented the company’s approach to the subject of parental work. At GEA Westfalia Separator Group GmbH, too, parents are the most important contact persons in the context of training, whereby a differentiation is made between parents who speak to their children and those who speak instead of their children. It is therefore important to respond appropriately to the respective framework conditions.
For example, communication with parents before the start of training has proven to be extremely successful. This was done through participation in training fairs, information events in the company such as parents’ evenings or through the company event “Training Day”. Although the “Apprenticeship Day” in particular requires additional advertising expenditure and considerable organizational effort, it offers the opportunity to establish contact with many parents. After the start of training, GEA Westfalia Separator Group GmbH also regularly offers information events for parents, which take place both digitally and in face-to-face formats.

Exchange of experience on the involvement of parents in vocational orientation

Various aspects were addressed in the discussions held in the meantime. Particularly in order to reach parents, information on training should be combined with entertainment, such as a joint bicycle tour. Vocational orientation at schools was also criticized, which in some cases is not carried out or is carried out inadequately. As a result, companies do not get in touch with the upcoming generation, which also reduces the attractiveness of training among the younger generation. It turned out that vocational orientation at schools is mainly dependent on the individual efforts of individuals.
Finally, GEA Westfalia Separator Group GmbH provided an insight into the training workshop and production in the form of a company tour.

Further notes
  • SchuleWirtschaft: Material from the field can be found here.
  • The brochure Getting Parents on Board can be found here.
  • KOFA: Training in the company can be found here.


The event was offered by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the cluster of mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is run by VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform to connect, inform and market companies, institutions and networks among each other and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.