Two high school teams mentored by the ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim have won the regional preliminary round of the nationwide high school economic competition YES! – Young Economic Summit and will compete in the grand final in Hamburg in September 2019. The Werner-Heisenberg-Gymnasium from Weinheim and the Engelsburg-Gymnasium from Kassel impressed with their ideas at the regional final at ZEW.

Group photo of the pupils taking part in the YES! regional final
High school students from a total of nine schools presented their ideas at the YES! regional final at ZEW.

The team of the Heisenberg-Gymnasium in Weinheim, mentored by ZEW economist Carina Fugger, convinced with its concept “Greenpay”, a simple, three-step solution for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions which earned them the first place. The idea, which was developed as a solution for the topic “Climate Change and the European CO2 Market”, involves a bonus point system for private individuals. If individuals make environmentally conscious purchases, use local public transport or live in an energy-efficient manner, they receive points which they can then use for discounts such as cheaper local public transport tickets.

The second place went to the Engelsburg-Gymnasium in Kassel, mentored by ZEW economists Dr. Katrin Sommerfeld and Paul Berbée on the topic “Strengthening Labour Market Integration of Refugees: Which Approaches Work?”, for their solution concept to reintegrate refugees into the German labour market. The concept provides for central coordination and support for all legal, language, professional and also social requirements that refugees have to meet in order to gain a foothold in the local labour market.

“The answers to the economic and social problems of our time do not appear at first glance, but must be thought through more deeply. The presentations of all YES! participants at the Southwest Regional Final at ZEW and especially those of the two winning teams showed this impressively. What is also impressive about this competition is the enthusiasm of the high school students,” says ZEW President Professor Achim Wambach.

Nine schools present their ideas at the ZEW

Group photo of the winning team, the organisers of YES! and the ZEW President
The winning team of the Heisenberg-Gymnasium from Weinheim together with the organisers of YES! and ZEW President Achim Wambach (far right).

Dr. Ulrike Freundlieb, Mayor for Education, Children, Youth and Health of the City of Mannheim, also paid tribute to the commitment of the high school students: “It is extremely important that young people voice their concerns and that we listen to them, not only regarding everyday questions, but especially when it comes to issues that affect our common future. The YES! competition is a great platform for the many committed young people who voluntarily take responsibility.”

A total of nine schools, each with their own ideas for solutions, including for equal opportunities in the education sector, helping innovative small and medium enterprises grow, affordable housing, digitalisation of companies and digital science communication, were represented at the YES! regional decision at ZEW. The regional final in the Southwest region was preceded by several months of intensive discussion of the individual topics, preparation, feedback rounds and support by ZEW experts.

With the final vote, which was made by the students themselves at the regional final at ZEW, two teams have qualified to compete in the YES! national final on 26 and 27 September at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, where the finalists from the Southwest region will meet the competitors from the North, East, Southeast and West regions.

About YES!

Group photo of the team of the Engelsburg-Gymnasium with ZEW president Achim Wambach
The team of the Engelsburg-Gymnasium from Kassel next to ZEW President Achim Wambach (right).

The “YES! – Young Economic Summit” is one of the biggest school competitions aimed at getting young people to engage with economic and social issues. School students come up with their own solutions to global economic, ecological and social problems and present them in English as part of a conference for other students, also known as the “YES! – Young Economic Summit”. Through discussions with economists and other students, they focus on global connections and develop their own innovative solutions. The best solutions are determined by a vote. The winning solutions are awarded a prize and publicly forwarded to those in a position to investigate how they might be put into practice.

In the run-up to YES!, all participating students receive continued support and guidance in topics such as investigation, research, presentation and media relations. YES! included these topics following the recommendation from the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs that school students should be taught how to exercise critical judgement when using media applications. The “YES! – Young Economic Summit” falls under the patronage of the Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, and is a joint project by the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics and the Joachim Herz Stiftung.




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