Dual industrial mechanic apprenticeship and study program with a plastics technology specialization at Gerresheimer in the Czech Republic
Düsseldorf/Horšovský Týn, October 06, 2015. Gerresheimer has been breaking new ground together with the Domažlice Vocational College in the Czech Republic for five years now. The industrial mechanic training program here is based on the German apprenticeship model – an absolute first for the Czech Republic and an example that could be replicated at other companies. Gerresheimer launched the pilot project at Horšovský Týn five years ago. The company now has approximately 800 employees, of which 40 are apprentices.
“Few people know that the German apprenticeship program is the only one of its kind in the world. This makes us a pioneer in vocational training in the Czech Republic”, said Helmut Schweiger, General Manager of the Horšovský Týn plant, adding that Gerresheimer is so far the only company to successfully pursue this path in the Czech Republic.
Vocational training is structured differently in the Czech Republic than in Germany. In the Czech Republic, young people first attend a vocational college and then apply to companies after graduating graduates. This has the disadvantage that the newly qualified specialists initially lack a lot of practical knowledge – a problem that is frustrating for both the employee and the company.
Gerresheimer decided to actively address the problem and launch a pilot vocational apprenticeship program. Jan Žána, director of the Domažlice Vocational College at the time, and Helmut Schweiger, General Manager of the Gerresheimer plant in Horšovský Týn, signed a cooperation agreement in 2009. The aim was not only to improve the quality of training for vocational students in Domažlice, but also to help attract more young people to the plastics industry. Gerresheimer therefore provided the college with a state-of-the-art injection molding machine for the program, among other things.
The first 12 apprentices started their working life at Gerresheimer in 2011. There are now 40 apprentices in the three-year industrial mechanics program specializing in plastics technology. Eleven industrial mechanics apprentices completed the program by passing the examination in May this year. “Two of the apprentices are women. This is at least a start towards attracting more women to industrial mechanics apprenticeships,” said Frantisek Toman, head of the Training Center, who was named “Technical Trainer 2015” by the Czech Ministries of Education and Industry & Trade for the first time this year. The Training Center currently has two full-time trainers, who are responsible for the apprentices and teaching them what they need to know. In the first year, the apprentices work at the plant for two days every two weeks and one week every month in the second year. In the third year, they are fully integrated into production and projects. The apprentices are supported by 15 mentors, who are also trained educators.
The Czech production facility at Horšovský Týn is strategically located only 100 km from the German plant in Pfreimd and the Technical Competence Center and toolshop in Wackersdorf. The facility has a production area of 24,100 m2, including a 11,200 m2 ISO class 8 clean room and a 2,900 m2 controlled area, running 106 injection molding machines with clamping forces of between 25 and 225 t.
The plant produces a wide range of medical products, from inhalers, insulin pens and lancing devices through various quick tests, components for dialysis machines and sterile wound dressing kits down to artificial respiration products. As well as producing innovative plastics systems, Horšovský Týn also assembles, finishes, packages and ships these around the world with its complex automated assembly and testing equipment and pad printing machines.
Gerresheimer has a strong apprenticeship tradition in Germany. To meet its own needs, the company is currently training around 180 young people in over 20 different occupations at its eight production sites in Germany.
Gerresheimer is a leading global partner to the pharma and healthcare industries. The company’s special glass and plastic products contribute to health and well-being. Gerresheimer is a global organization with 11,000 employees and manufacturing operations in the local markets, close to customers. It has over 40 production facilities in Europe, North and South America and Asia generating revenue in excess of EUR 1.3 billion. The comprehensive product portfolio includes pharmaceutical packaging products as well as convenient and safe drug delivery systems such as insulin pens, inhalers, pre-fillable syringes, vials, ampoules, bottles and containers for liquid and solid pharmaceuticals with closure and safety systems, plus cosmetic packaging products.