Photo Gallery Simulated Supermarket

Inflatable plastic cheese, plastic money, wine bottles full of tinted water. What sounds like a kindergarten game is actually a fully fledged fake supermarket, the brainchild of a German job center which wants to retrain unemployed for the workplace. Hamburg's simulated shopping trip will cost millions -- and has so far has had little success.
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Cashier Karolina Sieg is unemployed. Here she is working a shift in a simulated supermarket in Hamburg, a place where she and others get to experience the working environment. The 26 year-old says that she has already secured a work placement for this summer.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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In "Real Life Training" as it is called, unemployed people are given tasks like sorting goods in the warehouse, driving forklifts, taking orders and pushing packed shopping carts from one room to another. The business cycle spills over 2,000 square meters.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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Markus Repschinski, 28, is taking part in the scheme. Everyday he pays out more in toy money than he gets from his benefits during the month.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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Most goods are real -- but there are also empty packages.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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Like air-filled schnapps bottles and these fake packages of sea food.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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There are even inflatable blocks of cheese.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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As well as 6,000 real products in the supermarket.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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Oliver Rothe, who used to run a real supermarket, now explains to the participants how a checkout works and other tricks of the trade.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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The workers wear a shirt with the "Real Life Training" logo.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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The idea is that the workers complete their allocated stint of almost 40 hours each week for between six and nine months. They are supervised by social workers and five group leaders.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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Dennis Veers, 23, is also on the scheme. It is one of many retraining programs in the country.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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The Federal Labor Agency pays €6.6 billion a year for the retraining of Hartz IV recipients. But no one knows for sure how effective it is.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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In the warehouse, people learn to restock the shelves.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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Ulrike Kügler, a project manager, says: "This is a good way to inspire people to work."

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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"Thanks for your business. See you again," reads the sign. The circular business plan is neverending. After someone has been to the checkout, shopping trolleys are unpacked, resorted into the warehouse. Then the whole cycle repeats itself.

Foto: Oliver Trenkamp
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