St Joseph’s College enjoyed a week’s visit by 14 sixth form students from Gymnasium Theodorium School, Paderborn in Germany last week in the second leg of a hugely successful UK-German Connection exchange project. The visit culminated in all students involved presenting a ‘Succeeding in the 21st Century Workplace’ Exhibition at the College.
Last July, 16 St Joseph’s students spent a week in Paderborn learning about this powerhouse of European enterprise and visiting companies including the €12 billion global food giant Dr Oetkar.
The return visit involved trips to Ipswich’s own commercial giants BT and Huawei at Adastral Park, as well as a trip to Westminster to visit both Houses of Parliament, hosted by Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Suffolk Central.
The Anglo-German party was also welcomed by BEIS (the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy), where the students met top civil servants from within the Labour Market Directorate.
Having studied multinationals and globalised markets, the sixth formers were introduced to roles including government economist and policy maker. The minimum wage and likely future trends in both the UK and German labour markets were also discussed.
The students were able to share their preliminary findings from a World of Work survey with their Civil Service hosts.
The group’s next foray was up the East coast to assess the energy market. The morning was spent at Sizewell learning about past, existing and future nuclear energy production there. In the afternoon the students learnt about renewable energy, particularly off-shore wind generation, with leading consultancy, 4C Offshore Ltd, Lowestoft.
Students were offered two contrasting views on Europe’s future electricity generation; what was clear was that fossil fuel use would diminish, due not to dwindling supplies but to unacceptable pollution – a subject the students felt passionate about.
What were the students’ findings about work prospects in the UK and Germany? Their conclusions were that in general the future was bright, with healthy employment opportunities, and that strong academic results would continue to open career doors. They argued that continually developing one’s soft skills would also aid career progression and that in the 21st century the ability to communicate effectively, work hard and build strong relationships with customers and colleagues remained as important as advanced IT skills.
Principal of St Joseph’s College, Mrs Danielle Clarke, said, ‘We believe students derive valuable cultural benefits from exchanges of these kinds as well as academic advantages. Some strong friendships have been forged between our students and their German partners – friendships that are emblematic of all our two nations have in common, despite the uncertain political and financial times in the run-up to Brexit.’