Education shortfalls

Why German Schools Are Failing Business

When I grow up I want to be a... tax consultant.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    German pupils are increasingly entering the workplace without the requisite life and business skills.

  • Facts


    • A 2013 survey found that “a significant share of Germans do not have even a minimal knowledge of economics.”
    • Some 80 percent of German adults wish they had learned more about business studies.
    • Secondary schools often dilute business studies by mixing it with other loosely realted subjects.
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At the end of the business day, the two bosses of Colorful Office turn to their workers to find out how things went. “Were there problems in any of the divisions today?” “What was achieved?”

The workforce, which produces greeting cards and other gift items, reports back. The bookkeeper completed bank transfers, colleagues in purchasing bought new porcelain pegs for a new product line and marketing designed an advertising poster and posted it on Facebook. The bosses are satisfied.

So, too, is Anne Eickelkamp. A teacher at a comprehensive school in Rastede, Lower Saxony, she is the real boss of Colorful Office. Her students have created and run the company.

In addition to business studies, a majority of all ninth graders at the school spend four hours per week working in one of six classroom-based companies. The 30-year-old Ms. Eickelkamp is supporting the young people, who are working with real money and whose firm, which applies standard business practices, is even making a profit.

Ms. Eickelkamp is convinced that “business studies prepares one for life.”

If that’s the case, many young people in Germany are poorly prepared for life at the moment. Lower Saxony is one of the few federal states to offer a course in business studies. In a country that has become one of the world’s master exporters, business rarely features in schools.

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