Fifteen of the company’s 26 apprentices are here today. It was hard to find a date that would accommodate all of their schedules. The first-year group is sitting in a classroom at the trade school right now.
But they will be able to go on the next team outing. Wörwag attaches importance to events like this. In addition to being fun, they promote a sense of team spirit. Teamwork is not just a buzzword at the company, but is actively embraced. A glance into the golf hall is enough to see that future coatings lab technicians are engaging with future chemical technicians and production assistants. There’s no sign of detachment or reserve.
In addition to technical skills, training director Tanja Nebroj (48) also emphasizes qualities like conscientiousness, independence, interest, and enthusiasm. “And it’s very important that they get along well with each other,” she says. She herself trained as a chemistry lab technician and has been with Wörwag for 16 years now. Good working relations are schooled from the start.
Apprenticeship programs begin with an introductory week. “During these five days the newcomers get to know the company and their individual work stations,” says Nebroj.
“And we spend one full day climbing at a high-rope garden – which really brings people together.” The approach works, as can be seen by the fact that the apprentices also get together during their time off. And they meet for regular evenings out. When at work, Tanja – who is on a first-name basis with her charges – is the first contact partner for any questions about the program or possible concerns. She meets the young people on an equal footing. And they respond with a high level of trust.
„We also get together in our spare time“
Cedric Steffan, Chemikant
„The program offers all sorts of great things!“
„The good support was a crucial factor in my decision.“
Arefe Kibaroglu, Lacklaborantin
Today they want to make a statement. “When we knew that we’d be playing miniature golf, we got some green, yellow, red, and orange neon tape and put letters on our black T-shirts,” says Wickardt.
She points to the “T” on her own shirt. And then she motions for the others to stand in a line. The neon letters spell the word TEAMPLAYER. That is the motto not only of the day but also of the entire apprenticeship program.
Back in the game, Marco Sonder and Lukas Mischkulnik confer on how best to hole out with a single stroke at hole 16.
The two up-and-coming coatings lab technicians inspect the path along which the ball will have to travel. A steep incline is followed by a zig-zag pattern reminiscent of a marble track, and then a straight stretch to the hole. “Hit it precisely in the middle with just the right touch,” suggests Sonder. Mischkulnik takes this advice to heart and sinks the ball on his first try. “Cool shot,” is heard from the neighboring hole.
Denis Huduti (22) is impressed. He pushes a pair of orange 3D glasses up onto his head. Now in his second year as a chemical production assistant, he has always been interested in chemistry. Later he wants to join the chemical technician program. It has higher entry requirements, and its members may not miss more than ten days a year. He has good chances of being accepted.
„We take on about two thirds of our apprentices offering an open-ended contract“
He also has good chances of full-time employment. “We take on about two thirds of our apprentices offering an open-ended contract,” says Nebroj.
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing more to learn. The company encourages its employees to pursue further education.
Those who want to qualify as a master technician (Meister) alongside their job, for example, can receive financial support from the company.
But today’s miniature golf outing is not about professional achievements. Its focus is on building team spirit. And that’s why its schedule includes having dinner together later in the evening.
„Young people respond when you show interest in them.“
Ms. Nebroj, the jobs that Wörwag trains its apprentices for are not the most popular ones. Is it hard to find interested candidates?
Yes, it is. Our jobs are not widely known among high school graduates. And chemistry is not a favorite subject anyway. But all fields of work at our company are very exciting. To spread the word, we do various types of outreach, including working together with schools where we present our training opportunities at regular intervals. When the students realize how varied the work of a chemistry technician is, for example, they quickly become interested. So thus far we’ve been able to accept eight candidates a year.
A varied program awaits them, with an introductory week that includes climbing and other team activities. And there seems to be a priority on making sure people are happy.
That’s right. If people enjoy good relationships with each other, they’ll also work well together. Our apprentices know the premises quite well and have an impressive network. Our training program promotes interpersonal as well as technical skills. And everyone benefits from that.
The apprentices would say you’re an important part of the program’s success!
They’re just trying to flatter me. No, jokes aside, I try to set a good example, and I’m committed to and enthusiastic about my job. Young people respond when you show interest in them. I’m there when they need me, but I also let them know in no uncertain terms if things are not right. The apprentices know where they stand with me and I’ll tell them exactly what is expected.
By: Thorsten Schönfeld
Photos by: Toby Binder