As of the annual reporting date (March 31, 2020), the voestalpine Group was training 1,337 apprentices in about 50 skilled trades, the majority (62.8%) at locations in Austria. A total of 22.1% of apprentices were being trained in Germany under the dual system applicable in that country. Because apprenticeships are based on defined needs, almost all of the apprentices who successfully complete their training are offered full-time positions. voestalpine clearly believes that it has the duty to invest in the training of young, skilled workers. In addition to excellent professional training, the focus also is on developing personal and social skills. The Group currently invests more than EUR 70,000 in training a single apprentice.
Promoting apprentices’ health
The individuals responsible for the apprenticeship programs offer a range of information on health issues to apprentices and trainees alike. Some of voestalpine’s sites create programs that combine a host of actions and activities in this area. In Zeltweg, for example, the roughly 53 apprentices will soon be supported by a dedicated health coach. One of the trainers is currently acquiring the requisite qualifications for this position. Health as such has been an important topic in the apprenticeship programs for quite some time. It is addressed in both the annual and the quarterly apprentice reviews as well as in many lectures, workshops, and events. Apprentices who like to keep moving can choose among businessspecific running programs, memberships in fitness centers as well as our very own apprentice soccer team. The “Apprentice on the Move” program has already existed in Linz for more than 20 years. It is continually being redesigned and offers workshops on issues such as fitness, ergonomics, addiction prevention, healthy nutrition, and much more.
In Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, some 39 trainees can choose from among numerous workshops, including stress management and cooking classes for healthy nutrition. Starting in October 2020, a discrete “health day” will be launched in cooperation with a fitness center, offering training sessions, vital health check-ups as well as discounted memberships. At the plant in Kapfenberg, Austria, the health of 250 apprentices is promoted from the get-go. The curriculum for the first apprenticeship year offers a total of six customized modules ranging from movement and nutrition, to individual fitness checks, all the way to issues such as psychic health and self-esteem. This health project starts with a two-day team-building seminar. Two trainers in Kapfenberg are health monitors, who hone the apprentices’ health consciousness again and again through lectures and frequently playful workshops.
Digitalization projects as part of training curricula
Digitalization is an important component of all training at voestalpine. Various digitalization projects are deployed to impart digital skills to apprentices as part of their training. Just as in 2017 and 2018, in the summer of 2019 more than 60 apprentices at the Kapfenberg training center planned and built a fully automated miniature factory. Five apprentices from Wetzlar, Germany, participated in this futuristic project under an exchange program. Thanks to projects such as the Digital Learning Factory, these future skilled workers are already preparing now for the Workplace 4.0.
voestalpine’s training center in Linz also introduces apprentices to the newest cutting-edge technologies, offering an expanded curriculum that covers digital learning content and tools. Working with virtual reality goggles as well as tablets already is a fixed component of the program. A new electrical technology lab was inaugurated at the Krems plant in September 2019. Electrical engineering apprentices can now spend their entire two-year basic training in this innovative work environment, building extensive electrical circuits and controls in state-of-the-art labs, simulating circuitry, and engaging in other tasks.
voestalpine’s apprentice competition and group apprentice day
Every year, the Group Apprentice Day gives apprentices an opportunity to learn from each other. The Seventh Apprentice Day was held in Linz in 2019. A total of 350 apprentices from 40 locations in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria attended the event and shaped it also: in discussions with voestalpine AG’s Management Board; during the voestalpine quiz; and on a tour of the plant. Our up-and-coming skilled workers used last year’s annual creative competition yet again to display their innovative potential.
voestalpine traditionally organizes a competition for all apprentices from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland ahead of the Group Apprentice Day. In 2019, the apprentices were invited to submit their ideas for a “futuristic vehicle.” The best submissions were honored at the Group Apprentice Day on October 30th. Two mechatronics apprentices at voestalpine Automotive Components in Dettingen, Germany, won first prize for their “Futuristic Wheels.” They got a lot of help from their fellow apprentices, for example, in connection with laser cutting as well as bending and welding the sheet steel.