Apprentices and students design their own training
Our title summarizes the new MWM training concept, in which all the parties involved redefine the roles they play. The focus is on the apprentices, who from day one take responsibility for their own progress. When we select apprentices, we not only look for good grades but also for key qualifications like social skills and personal competence.
The role of the trainer also takes on new dimensions. Communicating competence at a high technical level was always very important at MWM. But now, our trainers are also team coaches and advisors who support their young apprentices on the road to self-directed learning. From the very first day of training, teamwork and mutual support replace “forced feeding” with factual knowledge.
Another aspect of the new training concept is learning in and from actual practice. After all, a person can only take responsibility if he has been given responsibility. So already in their first year our apprentices roll up their sleeves in actual work processes in the gas engine production and assembly area.
“Learning Areas” are set up especially for the apprentices in the production areas. Here they can work and be responsible for their own learning while getting support and advice from learning partners in the production areas. “Early involvement in production processes not only helps to pass on know-how, it also increases the trainees’ identification with their own work and products, builds motivation and strengthens the trainees’ bonds to the company,” explains Dr. Martina Lambeck, Manager MWM HR.
In addition to its training program in the commercial area, for the past two years MWM has been expanding its study program at the “Duale Hochschule” Cooperative State University. The interest that departments and young employees have in this form of academic education is so high that the number of students is growing from year to year. In this program, students benefit from the entire spectrum of specialized areas within the company, be they IT, Sales, Marketing or Service.
“Quality for the customer … through training” – three questions for Willy Schumacher, CEO of MWM
MWM Newsflash: “Mr. Schumacher, this year MWM invested €1.7 million in the construction of the new Apprentice Education and Formation Center and in the procurement of new machines. Meanwhile, the number of apprentices and persons studying at the Cooperative State University has increased by 70%. Why is MWM investing so heavily in training and professional development?
“For our customers it’s important to be able to buy a first-rate product and get the full spectrum of top-drawer service for this product. If we can instill our high standards from the very beginning of the training process, then we’ll be able to fulfill our promise of top quality to our customers. That’s what distinguishes us from other suppliers. Of course, there’s a whole series of reasons why training has such a high priority at MWM: for example, through our training program we are positioning ourselves as a major player in our region, so that we can compete for apprentices very effectively with other companies in the area. In recent years we have been able to fill every single open trainee position. In the final analysis, we are securing our company’s future by training our own upcoming talent.”
MWM Newsflash: “To achieve this high quality, you need to attract the best candidates. So why should talented young people decide to get their training at MWM and not at one of our big local competitors?”
“With us, apprentices are not just a number or a means to an end. When we invest in them, we are protecting the high level of technical know-how that has been a tradition at MWM. Young people who are excited about technology are really in their element at MWM, and they are quickly given responsibilities. This happens faster with our new training concept because we integrate apprentices from day one in hands-on work processes. Taking on responsibilities also opens up new possibilities. If our apprentices want to get more education after their training program is finished, then we give them the opportunity to take on responsibilities in the company that will help them advance. And the fact that MWM still has a relatively manageable size gives us a clear advantage: We are closer to our young co-workers, so we can recognize their strengths better and do a better job helping them to build upon these strengths.”
MWM Newsflash: “At the end of last year MWM was acquired by the construction machinery manufacturer Caterpillar. What opportunities does this open up for young employees at MWM?”
“All kinds! Caterpillar is a global company. And like MWM, it is known for its high technical competence and for putting quality first for its customers. MWM and its employees feel right at home in this environment. And if an employee wants, he or she can go out from Mannheim and really conquer the world. We are excited about the future of our company, and we are happy to see that so many highly motivated young people want to roll up their sleeves to us help build this future.
MWM Newsflash: Thank you, Mr. Schumacher.