Hillenbrand Inc. and its Coperion plastics machinery subsidiary are launching a workforce initiative to attract and retain talented employees internationally — at its locations in the United States and Germany.
Hillenbrand is based in Batesville, Ind. Coperion, which makes compounding extruders and equipment for feeding, weighing and bulk material handling is based in Stuttgart, Germany.
The main businesses for the Hillenbrand, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, are Batesville burial caskets and Coperion plastics machinery.
With unemployment very low in both locations — 2 percent in Germany and about 3 percent in Batesville — company officials are motivated to think differently about how to find good employees.
The company is partnering with Batesville High School in Indiana and Karl Maybach Gymnasium in Friedrichshafen, Germany, which is near Coperion's manufacturing site in Weingarten. The two schools are connected in an exchange through the German American Partnership Program.
Students from both schools are tacking real-world business challenges associated with meeting one or more of the 17 United Nations Global Compact Sustainable Development Goals. They are researching global challenges like climate change, water and food crises and inequality.
Students in both countries are talking with business leaders and touring Coperion facilities in Stuttgart and Weingarten to gain a better understanding of the company and its goals and objectives. They will determine how the Global Compact Sustainable Development Goal they've chosen to address translates into action for the company.
In July, 25 students from Batesville will travel to Friedrichshafen to meet their counterparts and work at Karl Maybach and Coperion. In 2020, students from Germany will travel to Batesville.
"The program opens up an avenue for us to get a different perspective on the workforce that we need to attract in the next five to 10 years," said Glennis Williams, Hillenbrand's senior vice president and chief human resource officer. "We can develop a pipeline of employees if we can find more opportunities to reach out at a young age and get people excited about the fact that manufacturing means something more than running a piece of machinery."