At the end of August, Minister of the Economy Margarete Schramböck and Georg Knill, President of the Federation of Austrian Industry, invited people to attend a round table at the Austrian Federal Ministry (BMDW) for the apprentice talk 2020. Melissa Breckner (in her second year of training as an industrial clerk) and Verena Lekl (in her third year of training for process technology), two PALfuture hopefuls, were among the participants. As an apprentice trainer, this was a great honor for PALFINGER to take part at the apprentice talk 2020.
For 23 apprentices from 18 Austrian industrial companies, August 24 was anything but a normal working day. They came to the Austrian Federal Ministry to discuss the apprenticeship situation in Austria in a top-class round table. “It was something very special to be invited to Vienna,” Melissa Breckner recalls. “Partly because we felt that the motto ‘We talk to the professionals of the future’ and thus our experiences and assessments were really taken seriously.”
How can apprenticeships become more attractive again?
Melissa feels very much at home at PALFINGER; the team spirit is excellent and she knows that many doors are open to her in this company – not only in Austria, but all over the world – as long as her performance and attitude are right. But when she looks outside of the company, she becomes somewhat pensive. Like all the participants in the talk, she hopes that apprenticeships will once again become more important in society.
Verena Lekl feels the same way, and is also still very taken with the accommodating and open atmosphere “in the initially somewhat intimidating premises” of the Austrian Federal Ministry. She adds: “One approach to making apprenticeships more attractive again could be to offer more practical subjects as early as elementary school – and this practical knowledge should not be regarded as something secondary when it comes to recognizing and developing talents.”
Dual apprenticeship programs as a successful model
Taking practical expertise seriously as a counterpart to theoretical knowledge – this was also the topic of the round table at the Austrian Federal Ministry, sending an important signal in an economic situation that has been strained by the COVID-19 crisis. Minster of the Economy Schramböck and President of the Federation of Austrian Industry Knill underscored the successful model of domestic dual apprenticeship programs, but also spoke of a “quality campaign in primary education” and emphasized “the importance of revamping existing job profiles, improving digital skills and continuously developing modern apprenticeships.”
For PALFINGER and its pioneering PALfuture apprenticeship program, such statements are a confirmation of the path chosen, which is not only about finding the right answers to new developments in the field of digitalization and Industry 4.0, but also giving young people who are starting an apprenticeship at the company the opportunity to acquire the key qualifications needed for the future.
Campus expansion planned in Lengau
The development of the PALFINGER Campus at the Lengau site planned for fall 2020, which will expand the existing campus from its current 760 m2 to 1,680 m2 and provide capacity for around 200 apprentices, is an important step in this direction.
“Modernity, practical relevance, diversity and internationality are the pillars of our apprenticeship programs,” says Bernhard Eicher, head of apprenticeship programs at PALFINGER. “We are on the right track, as shown by the fact that a third of our apprentices complete their training with a higher education entrance qualification (or ‘Matura’) and that 95% of our apprentices stay with the company afterwards.”