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“Seven of the eight trainees passed with distinction,” reveals Werner Wurm. The man who oversees global apprentice training at ENGEL was particularly satisfied by the fact that apprentices in China were tested to demanding Austrian standards. “To us, this excellent set of results is an important validation of our international training concept,” says Wurm. The trainees received both Chinese and Austrian qualifications.
From the outset, ENGEL has cooperated with WIFI International on its Chinese training programme. In Austria as well, ENGEL collaborates closely with WIFI, the Austrian Institute for Economic Promotion, in the area of vocational education and training. “Thanks to our partnership with WIFI, we are able to guarantee that the course content and final exams are identical in both China and Austria,” explains Wurm. “If they are to produce goods to a uniform high standard in our factories, our employees must be trained to a consistent high standard.”
A total of 45 young men are currently engaged in the training workshops of ENGEL Machinery Shanghai. Just recently, ENGEL enlarged the workshop areas and equipped them with even more cutting edge machinery in the course of the plant expansion work. ENGEL has managed to expand its training programme in China faster than planned. Plastics technicians and CNC technicians are now trained in Shanghai alongside mechatronic technicians.
As in Austria, dual training is offered: in contrast to most other apprenticeships in China, from the beginning of the program, ENGEL trainees gain a thorough practical foundation on the job along with theoretical knowledge at a vocational school. Since they also get paid during training, the demand for apprenticeships is high. “We realise there is competition for talented individuals in China too,” stresses Wurm. “Offering a dual course of study program in a highly modern factory makes ENGEL particularly attractive.”
ENGEL established the infrastructure required for dual study with its partner company ALPLA, which also runs a factory in Shanghai. With the support of WIFI International and the foreign trade organisation of the Economic Chamber, the two companies viewed various training facilities around Shanghai before eventually identifying the ideal vocational partner: the Shanghai Information Technology College (SITC). Instructors from the SITC were also invited to Austria to learn about ENGEL and ALPLA factories and visit an Austrian vocational school. Course content was then created.
“For WIFI International, this project is an example of best practice in terms of the ability of Austrian companies to offer dual training even in the face of a changing cultural, linguistic and legal landscape. In this way, companies can make sure that they have skilled personnel at hand when they have a demand and that the skills acquired meet exactly their specific and individual requirements,” emphasises Anton Aufner, head of WIFI International. “Austrian companies operate subsidiaries abroad not just because of location advantages, but because proximity to the customer is key – and in the same way, the transfer of Austrian know-how is becoming part of vocational education.”