Our contact person for all trainees in Mechanical Manufacturing: Stephan. Always ready to listen to the young trainees in the apprentice workshop, the 45-year-old trainer is there for his trainees. In this interview, he tells us how working with the trainees keeps him young despite his gray hair and why teamwork is also an important factor on the machines.
What brought you from your job as an industrial mechanic in machining to being a trainer in the apprentice workshop?
I always enjoyed working with young people and over the course of time, I have increasingly taken on the role as a trainer. I started at ROSEN in December 2000 and in this job, I was already standing at the machine together with trainees. As the number of trainees increased, the need for full-time trainers became more and more apparent. I then obtained a trainer's license in 2016 and now train the apprentices in our Mechanical Manufacturing together with a colleague.
How has training in the Mechanic Manufacturing area developed at ROSEN?
When we started training, the trainees first accompanied us on shifts and walked with us. Over the years, we have had more and more trainees and thus further professionalized the training process accordingly – right up to our own training workshop, where the trainees can manufacture a wide range of components independently on modern machines. We are constantly optimizing the trainee program. This year, for example, we are making an adjustment. Previously, trainees joined the company in their second year of training, but from August they will be joining us in their first year. This allows us to have earlier personal contact and to teach them the basic fundamentals even earlier.
What are the advantages of having your own workshop?
Definitely a lot. We don't have to wait until a machine is available somewhere in the manufacturing area where we can work with the trainees; we can train on our own machines around the clock every day and work through our training plan flexibly. This gives the trainees the opportunity to work directly on the machines at a very early stage, i.e. after one or two weeks. They are not just standing next to the machines, but directly at them. Another advantage is that we have our own area where we can calmly explain facts and contexts and intensively train on the machines.
What's important to you as an apprentice trainer?
Good training, of course. It's important to me that I convey the content to the trainees in a good and understandable way. If they make a mistake, we analyze the situation together. In my opinion, it teaches the most to recognize mistakes yourself. Ideally, the trainees find the mistake themselves and realize what they can do better next time. In the end, however, the most important thing is that they pass a reasonable exam and we have trained good skilled workers.
Beyond work, are there values you try to convey to the trainees?
Teamwork plays a very important role. It's important to me that the trainees help each other and don't leave anyone standing alone. A team is only as strong as its weakest member – they have to learn that. They should not work on the machine for themselves and don't look to the right or left. They should support each other and also push each other. Of course, they have to be able to implement the work on the tests on their own, but cooperation and team spirit are very important aspects that I try to convey.
Is there also something you learned from your trainees?
Constantly. I'm always learning something new in my dealings with young people. With 20 to 30 trainees, a wide variety of characters come together and that just makes it exciting. In addition, the different perspectives and approaches to individual tasks are often very interesting. In a manufacturing process, there is not just one right way to get to the result - there are different options. It is important to be open to new approaches and perspectives. Just because someone does not have that much experience yet, however, she or he may have great ideas.
What kind of connection do you have with the trainees?
I hope a good one (laughs). It's sometimes difficult to find the right balance between trainer and "good buddy". On the one hand, I'm the supervisor, but on the other hand it's also important to have a good rapport with the young people so that they can openly ask questions or point out difficulties. But every trainee is different – some are rather shy and try to help themselves, whereas others are more open and address issues directly or seek help themselves.
You are surrounded by young people all day at work – does this keep you young?
I have a lot of gray hair! Joking aside, I can say that in a way it keeps me young. In my day-to-day work, I'm around young people all the time, so I always hear about new topics and what young people are up to. I certainly wouldn't know that in this form otherwise.
Is there a particular highlight that has stuck in your mind during your time with ROSEN?
Almost every day is a highlight here – there is always something happening!
Now that's a statement! Thanks for the interesting insights, Stephan!