Ten young men have already made a start: over the next four years, ENGEL Machinery Shanghai will train them as CNC technicians. “We are expanding rapidly in China, where we always have a high demand for skilled workers,” points out Dr Peter Neumann, CEO of ENGEL Holding. “Finding qualified staff in China can be difficult, though, because in many areas their state education does not measure up to our high requirements. That’s why we took the decision to set up our own training programme in China as well.”
In contrast to most other apprentices in China, ENGEL trainees gain a thorough practical grounding on the job from the first year onwards, and receive payment. ENGEL designed the new training workshop along the lines of its workshop at the company headquarters in Schwertberg, Austria, which has attracted national awards; the new facility is similarly equipped with state-of-the-art machinery. The trainers themselves were trained in Austria. Trainees are now undergoing 12 weeks of practical training and six weeks of classroom instruction alternately. At the end they receive a qualification equivalent to the Austrian standard that is recognised in both China and Europe.
Training the trainers in Austria
In setting up a dual vocational training programme, ENGEL is emerging as a pioneer in China. The producer of injection moulding machines has put in place the infrastructure necessary for this together with partner firm ALPLA Werke A. Lehner GmbH & Co. KG of Hard in Austria. With the support of the Austrian Institute for Economic Promotion (WIFI International) and the foreign trade organisation of the Economic Chamber, the two companies viewed various training facilities around Shanghai before finding the ideal partner in the Shanghai Information Technology College (SITC). The SITC is already running a special class devoted to the theoretical training of prospective CNC technicians.
“To ensure the SITC instructors could gain a clearer understanding of the dual training system, we invited them to Austria. While they were here they familiarised themselves with the apprenticeship programme at our plants and the Steyr vocational school,” recalls Michael Grininger, Head of Human Resources at ENGEL. “We developed course content together, taking account of country-specific conditions with the support of the SITC.” As a result, apprentices completed general preparatory subjects at college before beginning their practical training with ENGEL and ALPLA.
Programme set for expansion
“Our aim is to attend one training class at the SITC every year from now on,” reveals Michael Grininger. “We are open to other partners joining the initiative – Austrian companies that are interested in offering dual vocational training in Shanghai are welcome to join us.”
ENGEL and ALPLA are seeking to expand the programme as early as the next cycle of training. In future, young men and women will also be able to train as plastics technicians in Shanghai – to European standards.