According to the German Survey on Volunteering, no other federal state has such a high proportion of people involved in voluntary work as Baden-Württemberg. The so-called engagement rate is over 46 percent. Today's International Volunteer Day (November 5), celebrates and recognizes this commitment.
But what role do members of the University of Stuttgart play in this? This question gave rise to the idea of apprentice volunteering. On November 29, 2023, over 30 apprentices from all training years at the University of Stuttgart came together for the launch event to work together on the project design.
Prof. Dr. Silke Wieprecht, Vice Rector for Diversity and Internationalization welcomed the attendees, saying: "We should all be aware of our social responsibility and work to continuously broaden our horizons. The University of Stuttgart would like to offer you the opportunity to contribute your experience, skills, and ideas to develop proposals for social commitment that go far beyond your education. It is important that we work together to shape this volunteering project as part of our organizational culture and to enhance personal development”. Peter Salzmann, Head of Apprenticeships, also emphasized how important it is for the University of Stuttgart to promote and support social commitment: "We have 17 different apprenticeship professions. The areas in which numerous apprentices have already volunteered are at least as varied: From fire departments and kindergartens to facilities for people in need of care. All the people here today offer a huge range of skills and expertise.
The keynote speech provided plenty of information about the diversity of volunteering roles. "Our aim is to create spaces where people from different walks of life can come together and learn with and from each other. I think it's great that you have an employer that takes on social responsibility and supports your commitment," says Raphaela Wehl from mehrwert gGmbH, which is committed to social learning.
The apprentices were then given the task of thinking about their interests, skills, values and wishes before focusing on developing specific project ideas at the group tables. They were supported by members of the University of Stuttgart's Youth and Apprentice representatives.
Two main areas emerged during the presentation of the ideas in the plenary session and the subsequent prioritization of the proposals: Sport and health and the preparation/distribution/sale of food for a good cause.
Whether it was baking and selling together to donate the proceeds to a social institution, physical fitness for people with disabilities, brain jogging and a musical evening with older people, a soccer tournament with children or a helpdesk offer for people lacking technical skills - the intergenerational approach, combined with a great appreciation for the potential participants, stood out in all the ideas suggested.
"You all worked very creatively this morning. Many thanks for contributing all these great ideas and creative suggestions. We now know 'what' we want to do, and the 'how' will follow. I am looking forward to seeing what specific forms these project ideas will take," said Prof. Dr. Silke Wieprecht to conclude the launch event.
The launch event closed with the following feedback: "It was very interesting and a great opportunity to see what is possible.” "I gained a lot of new insights. Excellent.", "It was a great new experience with many motivating aspects.", "The event gave me plenty to think about. Very helpful." The apprentices also made great use of the opportunity to get to know each other and to exchange ideas and network.
The next stage is to evaluate the ideas and discuss the next steps with the apprentices and to develop specific measures and start implementing them together. All interested trainees are invited to join this voluntary program.
The Vice Rectorate for Diversity and Internationalization, the uniqUS office, Personnel and Organizational Development, the Staff Council and the Youth and Apprentice Representatives support this project, which was adopted by the Rectorate as part of the diversity auditing process.
If you have any questions or suggestions regarding apprentice volunteering, please contact Katrin Böhm from Personnel Development or Diversity Management Officer Barbara Scheubert.