Katrin Pacreau is responsible for the Matchingportal+ at the Municipality of Ismaning. In this role, she plans and manages the matching and the relevant online portal. In an interview, she talks about experiences and what matching has helped them achieve so far.
Katrin Pacreau: Yes, absolutely. Ismaning is a modern community that has had digitization at the heart of its strategy for years. In almost all areas there are now helpful digital tools that make (administrative) life much more user friendly. In addition, there is an expectation amongst students to use web-based and therefore location-independent tools to use such matching technologies. Above all, however, it was about not only giving the local and prominent companies a platform when searching and selecting placements but to show young people the opportunities that smaller companies can offer. This does not prioritise the more prominent companies when assigning intern and apprenticeships but the fit of the job description with the interests and wishes of the students. It goes without saying that with the matching we also support small companies and the self-employed to attract students. Matching is a win win situation with the added benefit of it being purely digital.
This is how it works
There are four matching rounds per year, the time of which is coordinated with the local schools. An average of 40 companies and 150 students take part. Each young person receives at least 3 and a maximum of 6 offers which they then pro-actively apply for. For their part, companies introduce themselves as an employer and define up to 5 different internship or apprenticeships in detail. 120 weighted criteria are used for the accuracy of the matches. Values and preferences form an important part of this.
When the online platform was launched in mid-2020, nobody had a clear picture about the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. Was one of the reasons the project has been so successful over the past 2 years because active offers like the job exchange were part of it?
Katrin Pacreau: As a rule, digital offers had an absolute advantage during the pandemic. In the case of internship matching, however, digital matching is followed by real life placements on site. That’s why there was a great deal of uncertainty among the companies and in schools at the beginning of the pandemic. Nobody knew if and when in person placements and internships would be possible again. Therefore the uptake of internship matching was very hesitant. In the case of apprenticeships, however, there was more long-term thinking; existential worries in companies led to hesitation towards matching (if you do not know whether your business will to exist you are not looking for apprentices). Overall, as everywhere in the country, we had to show a maximum of flexibility during the pandemic. Because internship periods did not take place as originally planned, we have repeatedly reduced matching rounds and were in constant contact with the schools. Everyone involved is very happy that since the second half of 2022 things have been back to more or less normal. This is also evidenced by the figures from February matching 2022: 45 companies and 159 students took part in the matching round alone. There were 918 matches, including 654 for student internships and 264 for apprenticeships.
The Matching portal+ brings together very different user groups: pupils between the ages of 13 and 18, a demographic that is unmatched in the acceptance and use of digital offers. And on the other hand, long-established and traditional trades and service companies that sometimes need a lot of support when using the platform. Was that a balancing act for you as a contact person for ALL participants – and how did you manage it?
Katrin Pacreau: It is true that no young person has yet got in touch with me because they had technical difficulties. Rather, students and parents contact me because they have questions about the matching results. The companies ae more likely to pick up the phone because of a technical glitch, but even that is rare. Proof that the platform is user friendly. Most of the few problems can be solved easily over the phone; in case of more komplex issues the CHEMISTREE support team lends a helping hand from behind the scenes. All in all, I am happy about any kind of contact because you learn something new every time.
The pupils deliberately get only one targeted offer with the matching. After that, they can proactively apply to the respective company. This step is their own responsibility outside the matching process. Why was it designed that way?
Katrin Pacreau: Well, accountability and initiative are very important. The you people need to lear how to write and appliation with CV and cover letter. This is a skill that they will use again and again in their professional lives. With their individual application, the young candidates can present themselves with impact to the companies. Last but not least, this is good preparation for a subsequent job interview. Technically it would have been possible to contact the companies via the platform, but for the reasons mentioned we decided against it.
The accuracy of a match can be related back to the matching criteria. Instead of choosing based on gut feeling, the young people receive targeted suggestions for their stated strengths and desires. They can accept a match – and release their profile to the respective company (apprenticeships only) – or reject the suggestion with a reason in order to receive more matches.
Katrin Pacreau: First of all, it is important for me to state that the platform meets all data protection requirements. In order to legitimise data collection and storage, the account is registered via the parents. Although this takes longer, it serves to protect the personal data of minors and is therefore unavoidable. The profile view for internship matches on the platform has also been adjusted. Only the students see the company profiles – but not the other way around. Fortunately, there are experienced data protection officers on both sides who provide us with expert support. With the current procedure we are “safe”, everything is data protection compliant. If anything, we are surprised that this aspect is apparently completely ignored on other internship matching platforms.
Katrin Pacreau: The transparency of the software played a decisive role in the choice of provider. Compliance with all applicable regulations is mandatory, especially as a public sector client. Over the next two years, we will even be involved with CHEMISTREE in a research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. This is how we ensure that our platform meets the latest regulations that are coming to the recruiting sector from EU level!
Volunteers and organisations have recently also been matched on the Matchingportal+. What is next?
Katrin Pacreau: The honorary post matching came from the idea of being able to tailor the high potential in the voluntary sector. What will the future hold? Expansion of the current offer. Above all, it is important that we constantly promote the Matchingportal+ so that as many people as possible use it locally. Here, too, we have gained experience over time. For example, companies put out feelers for junior staff, especially in the spring, and are then particularly active on the Matchingportal+. This is certainly due to the interim reports that are issued in February and which many young people use to apply. We use this time to actively and particularly extensively engage in the acquisition of companies. Then there is a letter from the mayor, a personal visit to the job fair in Ismaning (also in February) to get in touch with the students and companies, there are several press reports on matching on all communication channels of the municipality. And before each matching round, school leadership, students, teachers and parents are informed by us.
The participant data flows into the matching pool via online questionnaires. In the case of apprenticeships and internship positions, the information is requested to be checked and updated every six months before a new matching run. The volunteer matching, on the other hand, runs every night, based on the current information.
What is your personal dream scenario for the Matchingportal+ in five years?
Katrin Pacreau: The Matchingportal+ is very popular in all areas of apprenticeships, internships and voluntary work. Companies, schools, clubs and volunteers use the Matchingportal+ as an integral part of recruiting skilled workers, practical learning and joint project work. It would also be great if students use the Matchingportal+ outside of school to find an internship during the holidays.
Thank you very much for the interview and here’s to many opportunities made possible for people from Ismaning!
is responsible for the Matchingportal+ in the municipality of Ismaning.
She uses the functions of the online platform and in well-established cooperation with CHEMISTREE project manager Victoria Tamm.