New tool for trainee recruitment

What is the future of training and continuing education in the automotive trade? In which direction it is currently heading? Members of the vocational education and training committee of the Central Association of German Automotive Industry (ZDK) shared information and discussed these issues.

From finding applicants to inter-company trainee instruction and the final examination – vocational education and training in the automotive trade is becoming increasingly digital and is occurring quite independently of changes due to the coronavirus. This was the conclusion from the most recent meeting of the ZDK's vocational education and training committee.

Thirty-five training experts met together, albeit digitally due to the pandemic. Led by ZDK director of vocational education and training, Birgit Behrens, and the committee chairs René Gravendyk and Anselm Lotz, they discussed innovations in training and continuing education in the automotive sector.

In autumn 2021, the trainee figures for the year which has just begun are always of particular interest. Although Birgit Behrens was not able to present official statistics at this point in time, there were a couple of updates. And these suggest that, while the crisis is not yet over, we have made it through the worst part. Following the low point last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the trend is at least beginning to head in the right direction again.

Nevertheless, generating sufficient interest in training among appropriate potential new trainees is and remains a major challenge for the sector. This is the task to which the automotive trade together with automotive manufacturers and importers have committed themselves with the initiative "Autoberufe" (Automotive professions). ZDK director Matthias Kenter reported on the activities under this initiative.

Two flagship projects

The initiative has refocused itself and wants to measure the success of its work more specifically based on performance indicators. This applies to both the various social media activities as part of the #wasmitautos (#somethingtodowithcars) campaign as well as to both the flagship projects which Kenter presented in more detail.

One example, he explains, is a business finder which currently lists around 4,000 training companies from 13 federal states. By the end of the year, this is expected to reach 5,000. However, the approach should not just be quantitative but also qualitative. Plans include a more precise differentiation by training occupation, the addition of placement positions and the opportunity for businesses to integrate their own logos or videos.

The "Werkzeugkasten Recruiting" (Recruiting toolbox) is completely new to the range of offers from the Autoberufe initiative. It provides a wide range of information and advertising materials to training companies which are interested. They can use these in their recruitment process. It also contains digital as well as traditional materials covering everything from flyers to videos. And most important of all guild businesses can also use the toolbox free of charge.

E-learning for inter-company trainee instruction

In a presentation to the vocational education and training committee, Matthias Grieger from the state trade and technical school in Frankfurt/Main explained how he uses digital teaching tools with his colleagues in inter-company trainee instruction. Previously they had to use up one or two of the course days to get participants up to the same level to begin with.

Now trainees are working their way through two or three digital lessons in advance, and each is doing so at their own pace. This is possible by working with the training medium "autoFACHMANN”. The lessons come from its e-learning programme. The offer is also open to other vocational training centres, as also explained by Julia Moßner, head of initial and continuing VET media at the Vogel Communications Group.
After completing an inter-company trainee instruction course, trainees being mentored in Frankfurt then received "learning snacks". These are brief and fun interactive bite-size learning chunks. "This keeps us and the course in mind and also serves as preparation for the next course," explains Grieger.

Digitalisation of the examination

ZDK contributors Daniel Winkler and Joachim Syha explained how digitalisation also influences the examination system. Winkler presented the statistical evaluation of the examination data. He explained that this made it possible to assess the quality of questions and to make improvements where necessary. Shya discussed pilot projects in which examiners are connected to the examinee via webcam only, or alternatively for the use of digital simulations in practical examinations.

However, even in these times of digitalisation, there's still a place for paper, and it has its supporters. State associations requested to have certificates, testimonials and similar issued in relation to the high-voltage competence trainees. While the journeyman's certificate already includes the relevant competence according to the latest information from the German Statutory Accident Insurance Association (DGUV), some businesses would still like to have an additional document. Birgit Behrens promised to look into the matter.

Source: (website of the VOGEL company from the automotive sector), revised by iMOVE, March 2022