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We have to prepare our young professionals in this regard so that in the future they are able to communicate, plan and work together in international, interdisciplinary teams.
Increasing quality expectations of customers, globalisation and Industry 4.0 – are the three major factors of today’s work environment. In order to do justice to these expectations, Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH has further developed the trade training programme for industrial mechanics to set new standards and, with pioneering concepts, is demonstrating how the company can succeed in responding to these requirements in a timely manner. “The big technical challenges that we are adjusting to the increasing interplay of electronics and mechanics as well as progressive digitalisation”, explains Walter Ferstl, Head of Trade Training at Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH. “We have to prepare our young professionals in this regard so that in the future they are able to communicate, plan and work together in international, interdisciplinary teams.”
Sophisticated high-tech products such as automation systems and Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH’s export rate of approximately 75 percent make remote diagnosis and international teams directly on-site indispensable. The job profile of industrial mechanics thereby comprised of a broad and complex range of tasks with international assembly assignments that make day-to-day work life diverse and exciting, but also challenging. Especially when electrical work such as the exchange of defective motors, sensors or actuators has to be carried out. Until now, activities such as these had to be performed exclusively by electronics technicians, not least because of legal safety aspects.
Further developments encompassing theory and practice
To ensure that industrial mechanics also have the necessary skill set relevant to trade proficiency and safety in future, for example being able to reconnect and commission a motor, preliminary measures have already been implemented at Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH in order to further develop the trade training programme: “We are currently working on integrating certain core and trade qualifications in our training programme”, reports Ferstl. To do this, the training content is not just orientated around the latest technology in the workshop but also entails the integration of completely new modules, e.g. from hydraulics training. “We were able to gain first experiences on which we are currently building our concept while rewriting details about a transducer from the area of automation as a training module for our industrial mechanics.” The aim, however, is not just to arm the industrial mechanics with as much knowledge of electronics as possible during their training – conversely, this approach is also pursued to facilitate optimum co-operation. “In training, the idea is to encourage trainees to feel that there are people around them. They should know that problems are solved together, decisions are made together about who the right point of contact is – as a company, as a team”, emphasises the training manager.
Two additional qualifications have therefore been included here, which the IHK (German chamber of commerce and industry) has been offering since the summer of 2018. Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH took immediate advantage of this further training opportunity and has assumed a pioneering role nationwide. The first examinations for the additional qualification “certified electrician for specific activities” were held in July 2019 and will be taken as an in-house test in future by all industrial mechanics as a permanent element of their trade training. All apprentices with a special interest in electrical engineering have a second module option available to them that upgrades the training profile for industrial mechanics significantly: The additional qualification “certified industrial electrician” can be obtained in the third year of training and consolidated with a final IHK (chamber of commerce and industry) examination.
The budding industrial mechanics appeared highly motivated even a few weeks before the exams. This elevated commitment may well have had something to do with the four week foreign assignment that the apprentices completed just before and saw as an enrichment for their social and professional competency. Within the scope of an Erasmus+ programme as part of their training, the 20 apprentices from Kempten swapped their workplace in Germany for workplaces in Norway, taking up duties in one of 20 partner organisations there respectively.
Their enthusiasm for acquiring relevant knowledge is so much the better for it.
Starting with simple assembly tasks, this training programme at Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH has been permanently established as a training module since 2000 – about 90 to 95 percent of apprentices travel abroad to partner organisations for four to eight weeks. Evidence of the effectiveness of this module was confirmed this year once again: “During their foreign assignment, our apprentices really became aware of how closely mechanics and electronics are connected and how great the necessity for additional professional qualifications has become. Their enthusiasm for acquiring relevant knowledge is so much the better for it”, says Walter Ferstl happily.