How the machine tool industry is attracting trainees

Apr 27, 2018

Demographic change has arrived in production halls and big companies are frequently grabbing the best people during this good economic situation. However, there are many positive examples of how good trainees can be found in times of scarce personnel. Some exhibitors at AMB, International Exhibition for Metal Working, which will be held in Stuttgart from 18 to 22 September 2018, will show what can be done. The event itself will also publicise a fantastic industry through an exciting accompanying programme.

"Due to the changed situation on the labour market, companies are faced with the challenge of approaching applicants more actively," said Kathrin Haimer, HR Manager at Haimer, a system supplier for metal-cutting processes, summing up the current situation. For example, the company from Igenhausen maintains two school partnerships and organises "Career roadshows" twice a year. These regional job fairs are specifically aimed at school students.

"In order to generate enthusiasm for technology and our industry, we also provide funds for school projects and report regularly on the opportunities and development potential through dual vocational training in an innovative company," added Haimer. Haimer also uses AMB as a platform to promote young people. Haimer's own trainees attend AMB together "in order to strengthen their ties with the company and the industry." Answers to a technology quiz must be found by obtaining information at the exhibition.

Switzerland has similar problems to Germany. Fraisa, a manufacturer of precision tools, has its head office in Bellach. The company uses several methods to draw attention to its attractive training places and jobs. Over 1,200 students take part every year in the national competition "Fraisa ToolChampions“. And this is worthwhile: in addition to fame and honour, total prize money amounting to CHF 60,000 can be won.

In the Greater Solothurn area the company also advertises with a local job fair which is attended by a number of other local companies. The special feature of this job fair is that it is held in production halls rather than in an exhibition hall. Fraisa's own trainees provide around 2,500 school students in Years 7 to 10 with insights at first hand into the occupations offered by the company.

Sandwich courses enhance attractiveness

The Association of German Engineers (VDI) and the German Economic Institute (IW) recently reported the following: "Engineering professions: personnel shortages are hampering growth and innovation." In the last quarter of 2017, there were more than 80,000 job vacancies compared with just 24,000 job seekers. The precision tool manufacturer Walter is no longer prepared to simply sit back and watch this development, especially not in view of new challenges posed by Industry 4.0. Digital transformation is currently one of the most important corporate goals for the Tübingen-based company.

Together with the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Villingen-Schwenningen, a three-year dual course in business informatics will be offered as a Bachelor of Science degree from autumn 2018 onwards. This degree will combine scientific studies with practical experience in a company in the tool industry: every three months the students will switch between the University and practical training. The students will therefore equally gain knowledge, professional experience and so-called "soft skills". The students will be paid a fixed salary throughout the entire study period. They will also enjoy the privileges offered to all employees. The content of the practical assignments will be as varied as the future occupation. An international internship lasting several weeks in one of Walter's subsidiaries is also on the agenda and will enhance the attractiveness of the employer.

Jürgen Widmannn, Managing Director of EVO Informationssysteme in Durlangen, a software and consultancy firm, is also looking for qualified practicians as digitalisation experts. Widmann: "Recommendations are still the best method. However, trainees must be recruited at an early stage." This is the reason why Widmann actively supports the Mechanical Engineering Youth Foundation of the German Machine Tool Builders' Association (VDW). EVO supplies digitalisation solutions for paperless production "in order to demonstrate the attractiveness of vocational training, for example as a metal-cutting mechanic." Vocational schools and universities in North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg are specifically equipped with ECO software. The other German federal states will follow later. Widmann: "The use of state-of-art-art solutions to implement digital production processes and Industry 4.0 can therefore be taught during training.“

Apprentices to promote their occupation on exhibition stands

Young people can most easily be impressed by other young people. "The attractiveness of our training occupations must be clearly highlighted, especially when there is a shortage of skilled workers and the trend is towards academisation. This fact must therefore be made more visible to school students," said Jan Scharffenberg, Group Training Manager at DMG Mori, with conviction. The machine tool manufacturer therefore employs a large number of apprentices as stand personnel for the "Special show for young people" of the Mechanical Engineering Youth Foundation. This Special show will be held in the atrium (Entrance East). Scharffenberg: "Interested young people will not only experience technology live and at close quarters, they can also obtain information on the variety of our training occupations during direct contact with our apprentices."

For ten years, the company has also been supporting the WorldSkills at international level and the German CNC Championships during AMB. The company provides four high-tech CNC lathes and jury experts there, and coordinates the entire competition schedule including preliminary decisions, training courses and free software for the participating apprentices. Jörg Harings, Head of Training at the DMG Mori Academy: "Professional competitions involving young people communicate additional technical content, inspire them to reach top performance levels and stimulate the need to continuously rethink existing training content in the training companies.“

Harings draws attention to another challenge in vocational training: digitalisation. "We have invited a large number of technical training institutes to AMB in order to provide information on this topic and discuss potential solutions." In his opinion, AMB is an ideal platform to also provide information on the digital transformation in vocational training. He is certain: "In the next few years the appeal of traditional metal working occupations will increase enormously due to a large number of new additional digital topics."

Attractive accompanying programme for young people

Since March, the VDW Mechanical Engineering Youth Foundation has found a second home in southern Germany, i.e. Tübingen. On an area of 250 square metres mechanical engineering companies in southern Germany receive competent advice on training. The site manager is Michael Mühlegg: "Our consultants also visit the companies in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and the Rhineland-Palatinate, and provide assistance in connection with the topic of dual training.“ One of the focal points here is a mobile, digital learning platform which was developed by the Youth Foundation and helps the companies to provide training geared towards Industry 4.0. Another objective is to improve the image of training in order to recruit urgently needed young people as specialists.

The Special show for young people at AMB is also going exactly in this direction. "On an area of around 600 square metres we will welcome 750 school students from Years 7 to 10 every day. Together with our partner companies, we will arouse these students' enthusiasm for technology and training occupations in the metal working and electrical industries," said Mühlegg. Trainers and teachers from the region and beyond can also obtain information on the Foundation's services and current topics. "Thanks to its central location, AMB is naturally an ideal opportunity to reach our target group as directly as possible and present the Youth Foundation. We can also showcase our new location in the best possible light."

The "WorldSkills Germany“ for the metal-cutting occupations of lathe turning and milling is also held in the immediate vicinity. This competition is open to young specialists up to the age of 22. It will now be held for the tenth time at AMB! The WorldSkills Germany organisation was founded in 2006. By staging national and international professional competitions, it creates platforms for the career success of young people. The winners from the two competition disciplines staged during AMB will take part in the 2019 WorldSkills Competition in Kazan. Three other special events are not explicitly aimed at trainees, but are also interesting for young people: during the competition "Lathe operator of the year" organised by the "Fertigung" trade journal on Thursday, 20 September 2018, it can clearly be seen how "old hands" work. The PTW Innovation Tour in the new Paul Horn Hall (Hall 10) will provide an outstanding overview of the developments in the areas of metal-cutting and production. “Experience future trends” will be the motto of the special show organised by the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools (PTW) at Darmstadt Technical University. Innovation leaders will present their new developments in this special show. Other topics will include the combination of additive manufacturing and machining, or increased energy efficiency based on extensive energy data in the context of Industry 4.0.

Keyword Industry 4.0: this hot topic will be the focal point of the new special two-day show entitled “Digital Way” on 18 and 19 September 2018. The concept firstly comprises an exclusive specialist congress, which is being organised in cooperation with the Software and Digitalisation Association in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA). Secondly, manufacturers of software solutions in the area of digital business models, digital production, digital product development, digital service & customer service, software development, as well as service providers and manufacturers of hardware will present their products and services in an accompanying exhibition. Showcases will also provide an overview of the interaction between networked processes in companies.

 About AMB

Date: 18.09. –  22.09.2018
Place: Messe Stuttgart
Organiser: Landesmesse Stuttgart GmbH
Date: every two years

At a glanceAMB, International Exhibition for Metal Working, has become established as a top event in even years. It occupies a leading position among the exhibitions in the industry and ranks among the world’s top five events. All the world market and technology leaders come together on a total exhibition area of more than 120,000 brutto square metres to present technologies for future production. Visitors also profit, in particular, from the clear thematic hall assignment. AMB is supported by an attractive accompanying programme featuring interesting special shows. Whether you travel by air, car, rapid-transit railway or train, it is easy to reach the Stuttgart Trade Fair Centre.

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