More than five million workers in Germany have never had any vocational training. A skilled workforce is however becoming ever more of a necessity, particularly in the increasingly complex world of mechanical and electrical engineering. Kai Gebhardt, personnel manager at ebm-papst in Landshut, is in no doubt: “We really do need to invest in the potential of our lesser qualified employees.” Wolfgang Beyer, his counterpart in St. Georgen, fully agrees. “If we do not react quickly enough, we could end up having to replace some of our workforce. And that would be the wrong course of action – both morally and from a business point of view.” Bernd Ludwig, responsible for training in Mulfingen, puts it in a nutshell: “We are determined to ensure the continued prosperity of both the company and the region.”
Motivation in Mulfingen
The Mulfingen plant started offering internal re-training schemes for lesser qualified personnel back in the year 2000. To date, a total of 60 employees have taken advantage of this to obtain recognised qualifications. The theoretical side is taught by college instructors in technical courses organised by ebm-papst together with other companies and the local organisation “Innovation in the Kocher & Jagst region”. In parallel to this, practical instruction takes place in the training workshop and quality assurance departments. “These days, the employees themselves ask us about new courses. With so much motivation, interest, commitment and initiative there is no limit to what we can achieve,” as Ludwig is delighted to point out.
Landshut on the right road
A participant on the WeGebAU project with her instructor
The Landshut plant is actively involved in a project organised by the state employment agency and known as WeGebAU. This stands for “Further training for lesser qualified and older company employees” and is aimed at all age groups. Concrete qualifications are the reward for taking part. “We have around 500 employees without any or with inappropriate qualifications,” as Gebhardt explains. In addition to the WeGebAU project, the Landshut plant therefore puts a lot of effort into internal training and intensive familiarisation courses.
Keen to learn at St. Georgen
Multipliers discussing with a trainee in St. Georgen
In response to a works council proposal, ebm-papst St. Georgen initiated the EU-financed project GRIW, which stands for “Creation of structural and personnel-related conditions for the implementation of innovative work training concepts”. This is aimed at lesser qualified shift workers who receive direct workplace training on various topics over a period of six to eight months. They are assisted by a total of twelve training counsellors, who in turn are supported by four so-called multipliers who coordinate the project and are responsible for embedding the training concept in the company. “The employees are motivated by having the opportunity to look beyond their own noses,” says François Dehlas, one of the multipliers. “This group of people is keen to learn more and make a bigger contribution to the overall picture. And we are pleased to be able to offer this scheme to promote such motivation. It is a win-win situation for both sides,” Beyer adds.