Modern Machine Shop

JUL 2018

Modern Machine Shop is focused on all aspects of metalworking technology - Providing the new product technologies; process solutions; supplier listings; business management; networking; and event information that companies need to be competitive.

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Value of Apprenticeship Programs Modern Machine Shop 75 result of the need to rebuild a war-ravaged coun- try. Moreover, while many companies concentrate on hitting short-term targets, the Germans have been able to concentrate on making continuous small improvements to their products that help to keep them ahead of the field. There is also support given by the state. One key pillar of support is provided by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a partially pub- lic-funded research organization that provides applied science for companies that would other- wise find the cost prohibitive. Another part of the story involves vocational training. Vocational training has an excellent reputation in Germany. The emphasis on voca- tional education combined with academic studies and on-the-job training for apprentices is globally admired. The fact that Germans are accustomed to the work-study model masks some of the challenges other countries might face in adopting it, such as doubts about the value of vocational training. The apprenticeship route is a genuinely respected and valued alternative to college/university, and it pays off. "Learning and earning" on the job is an attractive alternative to purely studying, which can leave many students with a crushing level of student debt. Manufacturing apprentices earn a wage of between 750 and 1,000 euros (approximately $900 to $1,200) per month, which is not a great earning, but enough to get along and make a living while learning a trade and attending school. More than 350 professions are officially recognized as training occupations in Germany, and more than 60 percent of high school gradu- ates regularly participate in the apprenticeship system. That is because Germany's labor market values workers trained for specific occupations. The German system is not without its f laws. Falling numbers of students, the threat of a short- age of skilled workers and often problematic transitions into the job require close cooperation between schools and companies. Therefore, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) sup- ports partnerships between schools and compa- nies. The aim of the school partnerships is that secondary schools and companies cooperate, develop a better mutual understanding and bene- fit from each other. Machine tool manufacturer Grob Group is one of many companies cooperating closely with local schools. Grob's Mindelheim production facility, said to be Europe's largest machine tool campus, includes 13 production halls and 570,000 square meters of f loor space. Considering the company employs 100 new apprentices per year in mainly technical professions in Mindelheim, it is evident they need to go out there and recruit students to work for them. One of the projects the 4,500-person-strong company in Mindelheim is engaging in is called "Come with Me," in which Grob apprentices go to secondary schools to conduct a specific technical project with interested kids. "The project takes about six school lessons, and one apprentice builds something like a small saw or some other tools together with four or five school students in grade seven or eight," explains Werner Drexel, manager of the mechanical training department in Mindelheim. "Moreover, we go into 'real- schulen' [secondary school preparing students for apprenticeships and vocational qualifications in Germany] where we cooperate with selected schools on long-term projects. Here, students simulate a job interview with us; they come to Grob for internships during their holidays and learn about the complete manufacturing chain, including design, manufacturing, quality control, assembly and hand-over to the customer." Generate Interest as Early as Possible According to Mr. Drexel, Grob is interested not only in recruiting potential trainees or appren- tices but also in conveying an interest in tech- nology, manufacturing and skills to students in secondary education. "Once the kids are in grade eight, it is too late to generate their interest in a specific profession," Mr. Drexel says. "We try to attract youngsters as early as at grade five to our range of apprenticeship programs and professions available. In many schools, that's the age they have to decide whether to enroll for a math-based school path or a linguistic one." Grob also is targeting girls who may be less likely to choose a technical career. "There is a girls' realschule in town, which we enjoy a good partnership with as with most other second- ary and vocational schools around the area," Mr. Drexel says. "We go there and explain that modern manufacturing and our machine tool business is not dirty at all, but a very interesting Sometimes the only option is to develop talent in house.

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