"I view the world in a different way"

33-year-old Marcel Kunze from Derne, Germany, has been deaf since birth. He is only able to work with the help of a hearing prosthesis. He had actually wanted to retrain as a train driver but it all turned out differently.

Train driver - that was the career choice of 33-year-old Marcel Kunze, originally from Dortmund. Following extensive career guidance interviews, the Dortmund employment agency quickly arranged an 11-month training course with dispo-Tf Education GmbH, a specialist rail industry training company.

But what many people do not realise is that to drive railway vehicles, applicants are initially required to undergo a sensory screening test. A general physical examination includes the testing, for example, of vision, colour perception, and hearing. In a similar way to pilots, these tests are particularly important for the understanding of signals.

Marcel Kunze: "On a day-to-day basis I experience no impairments at all"

It is precisely at this point that the unexpected happened: "It wasn't my deafness that was causing me problems in the occupation of train driver, it was my eyes," explains Kunze. "That was of course a surprise. On a day-to-day basis I experience no impairments at all. Obviously I was disappointed, but it makes sense - when recognising the signals on the railway, your vision obviously needs to be 100 per cent , and with me this wasn't the case," explains Marcel Kunze.

He quickly realised he had to find an alternative. Following counselling discussions with the employment agency he decided to retrain as a wagon inspector. In freight transport, the wagon inspector carries out technical examinations and brake tests on freight rolling stock. They inspect wagons for damage and faults and decide independently whether the wagon in question needs to be removed from the train for repair. This was the ideal alternative for Marcel Kunze. 

"Marcel Kunze completed the wagon inspector training with flying colours, and actually achieved the top grades," explains the training provider. It quickly became clear to the railway company that, following the training, they needed to permanently employ Marcel Kunze as a wagon inspector.

Training and work despite coronavirus 

But now there was another problem. The 33-year-old had no driving licence. And this is a requirement for the job. However, because he had already been given an employment contract, the driving licence was also funded via the employment agency.

"We very much wanted to enable him to start work, in particular during this coronavirus period. Given this, we quickly decided to fund a crash course for Marcel using an education voucher," explains Stephan Gante, a placement officer working at the Dortmund employment agency in the rehabilitation department. 

Marcel has now been permanently employed since the middle of April and does not regret his decision. "You are outdoors a lot," he explains. "I now view the world in a very different way. Here, outdoors, you see very different aspects than in an office or workshop - and that's really exciting."

And, he explains, because the railway system is less impacted by coronavirus, he certainly has plenty to do at the moment. And that's a good thing. Yesterday he was in Moers, "and today in Bochum again", he says, "We are a kind of TÜV for wagons. I check the operational and transportation viability - nothing would run on the rails without us."

dispo-Tf is also impressed by Marcel Kunze: "What we're hearing from his colleagues is all entirely positive. He is eager to learn and ambitious. You can feel his enthusiasm for the new job."

Source: lokalkompass.de (German news platform), revised by iMOVE, January 2021