For the Best Apprentice Award ceremony, 46 of the best apprentices in the Volkswagen Group were guests in Wolfsburg for four days.
Tornadoes of fire roar through the air, lightning bolts flash, rainbows glow, things clatter, hum, blink: the many exhibits at the phæno Science Center in Wolfsburg help visitors learn how the laws of nature function. This delights not only school classes whose members giggle their way through the rooms trying out all the experiments, but also the 46 young employees of the Volkswagen Group. They finished their apprenticeships last year – and so successfully that each of them was selected from the numerous ranks of trainees to receive one of the sought-after Best Apprentice Awards.
The Volkswagen Group trains 20,000 young people
The dual training system in Germany enjoys an outstanding reputation internationally. It’s no surprise that an apprenticeship with the Volkswagen Group is highly sought-after – be it in South Africa, Brazil, or India. The Volkswagen Group is currently training over 20,000 young people around the world – to be, for example, mechatronics technicians, electricians, or cooks. Forty-six of those young, up-and-coming talents were personally honored last week by CEO Herbert Diess, HR Board Member Gunnar Kilian and Works Council President Bernd Osterloh. The apprentices, who hail from all over the world, were treated to a four-day program in Wolfsburg.
“You help each other”
“It’s great here; I’m very proud of this honor,” says mechatronics technician Maressa Almeida from Brazil. She adds: “Volkswagen is a very good employer. I’ve learned so much in my apprenticeship! And above all: it’s not just theory. I can really apply all of it in practice!” Electrician Nala Mofokeng from South Africa pipes in: “There’s a great working culture at Volkswagen. You help each other. And you really have to, or it just won’t work.”
Visiting the phæno is one of the highlights of the four-day program. In small groups, the apprentices learn at the various exhibits which values are particularly important to the Volkswagen Group. “They naturally already know these values from their apprenticeships, but we wanted to reinforce them once again here,” explains Claudia Täubner, responsible for Culture and Strategy Development at the Group Academy. “These values are our basis, our roots, our identity. Of course each brand is different, but the Group Essentials bind us together worldwide.
Future, development, opportunities
Take the bridge, for example, which can only be constructed out of the various building blocks by working together. “We not me” is the corresponding Group Essential here – one of the seven principles of the Volkswagen Group. The others are:Da ist zum Beispiel die Brücke, die nur gemeinsam aus verschiedenen Bausteinen zusammengesetzt werden kann. „Wir statt ich“ lautet hier das zugehörige Group Essential, einer der sieben Volkswagen Konzern Grundsätze. Die anderen sind:
- We are proud of the work we do
- We live diversity
- We take on responsibility for the environment and society
- We are honest and speak up when something is wrong
- We break new ground
- We keep our word
It is precisely these values that the apprentices themselves find important – and which they have also experienced in their work. But they appreciate a lot of other things about their employer as well. When you talk to the young people, they tell you what Volkswagen means to them: future, development, opportunities – and a first-class reputation, and not only in terms of training. “Volkswagen is a great employer with many continuing education opportunities. It’s really cool what Volkswagen enables us to do and how they support us,” says Carolina Ewers, electronics technician for automation technology. Dominik Bleitner, mechatronics technician, is currently studying electrical engineering. He’s effusive in his praise: “The atmosphere during the apprenticeship was great!”
“Volkswagen is trusted”
It is by no means always easy to score one of the rare apprenticeships. Rahul Barhate of India, for example, had to beat out hundreds of other candidates for one of just 16 spots. After numerous tests, he was able to begin an apprenticeship as a mechatronics technician – and succeed with flying colors. His biggest project during the apprenticeship: a defective machine was to be replaced – a very expensive proposition. Instead, Rahul took it upon himself to repair it. The 20-year-old did such a good job of it that the machine is still in operation. Why did he choose Volkswagen as an employer and training company three years ago? “Volkswagen has an outstanding reputation; Volkswagen is trusted. It’s the values that make Volkswagen Volkswagen,” replies Rahul with a beaming smile. “I love my job!”
“It feels good to come to work!”
Teamwork, diversity and responsibility are particularly important to the Best Apprentices. “It’s like a big family,” says qualified painter Phoebe Jay from the United Kingdom. She now works as a project manager. Marvin Fütterer, electronics technician for automation technology, wants to return to Volkswagen after studying software engineering – for which he has been given five years’ leave. He loves automobiles, saying: “The great thing is that you can see the progress and the current state of the technology in everyday use.” And IT specialist Kim Svedberg from Sweden says: “At such a large company you really learn a lot. The best thing is: it feels good to come to work!”