Arburg GmbH & Co. KG is no stranger when it comes to recruiting and training the next generation of workers.
In September, 67 new students from Germany's Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University started their vocational training at the injection molding machinery maker.
Arburg said it was the largest cohort yet to start apprenticeships at the Lossburg, Germany-based company, with students filling positions such as mechanical, electrical and industrial engineers, mechatronics technicians, technical product designers and industrial clerks.
Earlier this year, Arburg's apprenticeship department received three quality certifications: an LQW certificate, a 1A Excellent Training Company seal of quality from the Northern Black Forest region's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and an ISO certificate for meeting the basic requirements as a provider of learning services in nonformal education and training.
"Arburg is regarded as an attractive employer and an excellent education company in the region," said Renate Keinath, a managing partner at Arburg who is also responsible for human resource management.
For nearly 70 years, the company has ushered more than 1,800 young people from training to full-time employment, Keinath added.
"That's because we provide sustainable and demand-oriented training so that the chances of gaining full-time employment at the company are substantial," she said.
In 2015, Arburg had a recruiting stand at the Fakuma trade show for the first time — and was also the first company to do so, Keinath said.
This year's Fakuma is no different: Arburg, once again, has an area adjacent to its 13,350-square-foot booth where professionals and newcomers to the plastics industry can chat with Arburg experts about job opportunities as well as dissertation work and internships.
Keinath talked to Plastics News via email before the show to discuss the machinery maker's longstanding training and recruitment efforts.
Q: What sort of skills will become more important for the company as Industry 4.0 and additive manufacturing technology become more widely accepted?
Keinath: We need flexible employees, who look beyond their own horizons, are open to new technology and work in an interdisciplinary environment.
Q: When it comes to recruiting skilled workers, what is Arburg doing that your competitors aren't?
Keinath: Arburg is a family-owned company, which in keeping with the "Wir sind da" brand promise, never compromises when it comes to its employees' interests. We offer future-oriented and, above all, secure jobs.
Q: How has Arburg established itself as a company at which younger generations want to work?
Keinath: Arburg is much more than just a machine manufacturer. We've always been a trendsetter. IT-networked production and Industry 4.0, pioneering control systems and additive manufacturing are just a few examples that show we always engage with forward-looking topics at an early stage.
Q: The United States has often struggled with recruiting the next generation for jobs in the manufacturing industry. Germany seems to be doing a better job recruiting younger workers. What lessons should the United States be learning from Germany's success?
Keinath: We don't wait until young people have finished school and are faced with making a career choice. Our activities begin with kindergarten children. At various events, we try to stimulate their interest in technology and plastics through play. We also cooperate with schools of all kinds and offer projects to the students. There is also the opportunity to get a taste of the various professions through internships, thus getting to know what it's like to work in an industrial company firsthand.
Once the young people have decided on training, or study at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW), we have a dual system. The trainees attend the appropriate vocational schools for theoretical instruction, while the DHBW students spend three months at the university and in the company. Thus, practical relevance is assured over the entire training period, and the young people can start work immediately after their training.
Q: What challenges to recruiting next-generation workers for jobs in manufacturing and at plastics companies, specifically, still remain?
Keinath: We have to get young people to see that there are very interesting and modern jobs in our industry. To achieve this, it's vital to take a look behind the scenes. Many people, for example, don't know that Arburg develops and builds its own control system, which is why we offer a very exciting work environment for IT experts.
Q: What recruiting efforts does Arburg utilize that have proven successful?
Keinath: One of the strategies that has proven useful in the field of apprenticeship is for our trainees and students to meet directly with the young people at events and school visits and to tell them about their experiences firsthand. In an effort to find graduates, young professionals and career starters with university degrees and experienced experts, we also participate in special recruiting fairs. In contrast, we're increasingly meeting experts from within the industry at our recruiting stands at the Fakuma, the K and the Hannover Messe [shows].