At Achern, career school students learn in several virtual practice firms for their later careers. This can give them decisive advantages when looking for an employer.
Achern career students from the Commercial Vocational College look at a table thrown at the wall by a projector. “This is our stock. Teacher Frank Limrich and his students laugh a little at all electronic devices that can also be found in stores, but our brand Apple is simply called Apple so as not to infringe copyright.
With his students, Limrich founded a company called Future Stars, primarily for entertainment electronics. Specialty: The company is only online and the listed merchandise isn’t actually in a warehouse waiting to be sold, but is nothing more than a data record on the server.
“We have worked with practice firms for 15 years so that we can offer the most practical training to students,” explains Vocational School Principal Ralph Schneider. There are currently five other companies in Achern that are supervised by schoolchildren and deal, for example, in coffee, fruit, pets, or pasta from the Black Forest.
500 companies practicing in Germany
The matching infrastructure is provided online by a company in Essen that takes care of around 500 companies doing business in Germany. According to Schneider, there are about 60,000 virtual companies around the world that are linked together.
It is precisely this network that makes the project so interesting. Students can trade and enter into contracts with other companies. There is really no aspect of corporate governance that the network does not allow, says Schneider: “Basically everything is real, regardless of money and goods.”
For example, students will have to pay attention to paying sales tax after a successful sale, otherwise the tax office will come and punish the company. Every virtual company has a purchasing department, an accounting department, a secretarial, but also a human resources department. The store would only run smoothly if students could put all requirements under one roof.
The practice company brings students more than just an internship.
Frank Limrich is a teacher at Akern Vocational School
Students also go to trade fairs, where they meet representatives from other practice firms and then sign contracts in real life that they have to fulfill later, in the classroom. “Pupils are motivated in a completely different way when they issue invoices and send out order confirmations when they have prepared the orders themselves,” Lemmrich says.
Students can try
In his view, students who have been trained in a virtual company have crucial advantages. “The practice company offers students more than just internships, as you can’t go deeper into operations. We work here with software that is already in use in real companies,” Limrich explains.
Rather, it is even more important for students to learn, through practical work, to organize themselves and act carefully. The teacher explains, “In fact, the manager panics when he has a customer on the phone, looks for an invoice but cannot find it because it was incorrectly presented by the employee.”
Elanur Akyldiz is pleased to participate in the project. She attended vocational school because she was very interested in the commercial field. Before that, I completed an internship at one of the electronically lockable doors manufacturer. “I wasn’t allowed to use the software there because there was a very high risk of making a mistake,” says the 16-year-old. In the virtual company, on the other hand, they can also try something.
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