Purpose ‐ Due to recent bottlenecks in the apprenticeship market the transition from general schooling into the German employment system has become more and more problematic for many pupils over the past years. In particular, young persons with migrant backgrounds, low academic achievement or missing school graduations need special help from "Managing transition" projects. The purpose of this paper is to present some findings from a formative evaluation of a mentoring project. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The evaluation of the mentoring programme was done in a case study manner. A formative evaluation design with a three-part survey was chosen. The survey also used standardised questionnaires as oral interviews. Findings ‐ In the survey, it could be found that the mentoring programme had many problems to overcome. For example, it did not succeed in building a continuous and trustworthy communication between mentors and pupils. Moreover, the pupils were unsuccessful in getting an apprenticeship training position despite overcoming lethargy in order to start applying. Furthermore, the mentors felt insufficiently prepared with regards to content and methodological design of the mentoring. Research limitations/implications ‐ Considering the small sample (six students and eight mentors), it was quite clear that the evaluation study could not generate a representative analysis. The research should be regarded as an explorative case study only. Practical implications ‐ As a result of the formative evaluation, some recommendations are given that should optimise the continuation and extension of the mentoring programme. Originality/value ‐ The findings of this mentoring programme are useful for people planning to start similar projects because practical problems and possible solutions are mentioned.