Supporting girls in their career orientation and giving them a new perspective on the world of work is the aim of Girls' Day, which took place for the 20th time on April 22. Injection moulding machine manufacturer Engel has been supporting the event for almost 15 years.
"Girls' Day is a classic win-win situation," says Werner Wurm, head of the global apprentice training programme at Engel. "Finding qualified and committed skilled workers is increasingly becoming a challenge for companies. For us, events like Girls' Day are the best way to get young women excited about a technical profession. The girls, in turn, get to experience new vocational fields and can see for themselves how much talent they have for a technical profession." Because of Corona restrictions, Girls' Day had to take place in digital form this year. "I think it's good that Girls' Day is still being offered in 2021 despite the current situation," Wurm emphasises. Nevertheless, he is looking forward to when the girls are allowed to come back to Engel's apprentice workshop: "A virtual event could never replace the feeling that the participants experience working directly in the workshop and operating machines independently."
Varied tasks for apprentices
Anna Spiegl visited industrial companies during her time at school in the scope of Girls' Day. Today, she is a third-year mechatronics apprentice with Engel in Schwertberg. "I already knew beforehand that I wanted to take up a technical profession. Girls' Day encouraged me in my decision," she says. Many of her female classmates did not have a technical apprenticeship in mind or were not even aware of about the wide-ranging opportunities. But some of them changed their minds after all thanks to Girls' Day. It is precisely this insight into career prospects that makes the action day so special. "The fact that a disproportionate number of women still opt for something that is considered a typically female profession is mainly due to a lack of knowledge about alternatives and by no means due to a lack of aptitude," Wurm emphasises.
Around 15 percent of apprentices at Engel AUSTRIA right now are women. During the apprenticeship period, great emphasis is placed on teaching a broad range of skills. "Everything is covered, from filing and drilling to machine start-up," says Anna Spiegl. She is currently working in assembly: "It's really cool to see my work go directly into the injection moulding machine that will be deployed at the customer's site later on." Her colleague Denise Lettner, an apprentice in IT technology, also appreciates the wide range of activities: "I just finished my spell in client service. I was responsible for setting up computers there, for example. At the moment, I'm working in infrastructure, where I create new user accounts, among other things." Lettner discovered Engel when searching on the internet: "Finding a company in the region that offers an apprenticeship in the IT sector was not that easy. After the trial day at Engel, it was clear: I want to work here. The working atmosphere was great from the first day on, and I think it's fantastic that an apprenticeship with university entrance qualification is supported." Apprentices can attend the preparatory courses directly in the company – this saves time and enables a direct exchange with the year's colleagues.
Gaining international experience
Engel has focused on training skilled staff in-house for many years. At the Austrian plants in Schwertberg, St. Valentin and Dietach, 180 apprentices are currently taking part in training in eight technical professions. In addition to mechatronics and information technology, these include machining technology, mechanical engineering technology, plastics technology, materials technology, mechanical engineering design and operational logistics. As a Dual Academy training company, Engel offers practical training to young adults who would like to start their careers after completing their university entrance qualification. The company also provides professional training abroad to ensure a sufficient supply of skilled workers, offering training in China, the Czech Republic and Germany. What this means for the apprentices is international experience as early as in the apprenticeship. After completing their apprenticeships, the two best apprentices in each year are given the opportunity to complete an internship lasting several weeks at one of the international locations.