Rolls-Royce Power Systems celebrates 100 years of vocational training at MTU Friedrichshafen

Posted on April 11, 2019

Rolls-Royce's mtu vocational training program in Friedrichshafen is celebrating its centenary this year. In 1919, mtu's predecessor company Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH became the first company in the Lake Constance & Upper Swabia region to establish a permanent training workshop with its own works training college.

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  • Special centenary event series “The power for your future”
  • 1919: work commenced to establish a permanent training workshop
  • 8,000 young people (approx.) learned a profession at the Friedrichshafen site during the 100 years
  • Currently 189 apprentices and dual work/study students
  • Role model for career starters in the US

Rolls-Royce's mtu vocational training program in Friedrichshafen is celebrating its centenary this year. In 1919, mtu's predecessor company Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH became the first company in the Lake Constance & Upper Swabia region to establish a permanent training workshop with its own works training college. Since then, around 8,000 young people have learned a trade or completed a dual work/study degree course at MTU Friedrichshafen.

“The basic motivation for offering top-notch, in-depth vocational training has not changed since Karl Maybach's day: The company needs highly-skilled labor in order to deliver excellence,” said Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. Vocational training has to progress as the company moves forward. “And we're currently really on the move,” he continued. Trainees are playing a key part in the implementation of the company's Power Systems 2030 strategy: expanding its core business around the combustion engine and, at the same time, transforming the company into a solution provider by pressing ahead with hybridization, electrification and digitalization. That, according to Schell, is why it is essential to offer not just proven trades, but also new career streams underpinning the company's strategy.
“Innovative vocational training is at the heart of our efforts to advance young talent. The combination of practical training and theory in the company was an innovative idea 100 years ago. Since then, our vocational training has been at the cutting edge throughout, constantly adapting to current developments. That's why we are now focusing on digitalization, and on future technologies such as collaborative robots,” said Marcus A. Wassenberg, CFO and HR Director at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. A bang-up-to-date example of this has seen trainees upgrading a model automation system, enbling it to be controlled from a tablet or smart watch.

Thomas Bittelmeyer, Chairman of the Works Council at Rolls-Royce Power Systems, emphasized: “I am proud to work for a company that has been cultivating and growing its tradition of training for decades. Vocational training on its own is no promise of success. It takes skilled instructors doing a great job to make it work. It also took the efforts of many comrades and supporters to ensure we are now able to celebrate this auspicious anniversary.”

The high common standards were underlined during a panel discussion at the opening event, which kicked off a series of anniversary events on Thursday, April 11. Taking part in the discussion entitled “Good Training – a Pillar of Society” in the presence of invited guests were Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, Helene Sommer, 2nd Authorized Representative of local metalworkers union IG Metall Friedrichshafen-Oberschwaben, Sabine Schuler-Seckinger, Head of local co-educational school St. Elisabeth Mädchen- und Jungenrealschule Friedrichshafen, and Norbert Veser, Vice President, Safety & Quality Management at Rolls-Royce Power Systems and one-time mtu apprentice. The current trainees even established their own apprentice orchestra for the evening.

Engineering Open Night proves viable

In its anniversary year, Rolls-Royce Power Systems is once again investing in the future viability of its own training operation. Visitors to the Engineering & Innovation Open Night on Friday, May 17 will see how vocational training is set to develop in future, with a broad spectrum of topics ranging from digitalization to 3D printing. The opening event of the Engineering & Innovation Open Night is to be held at Rolls-Royce Power Systems on the occasion of its vocational training anniversary.

Leading-edge workshop

The training workshop is to be rebuilt during the centenary year, and will be given a special facility to prepare young people for the challenges of the Smart Factory revolution. “Working with our apprentices and dual work/study students, we are going to set up our own Smart Factory facility. When it comes to new technologies and new developments in the world of work, we think it is important to give trainees and instructors ample opportunity to get to grips with the big issues of the day,” said Martin Stocker, who heads up the vocational training function. The new training workshop is to go into operation in time for the new apprentice intake in September.

New IT apprenticeships

The next generation of professionals on the shores of Lake Constance is to be trained in any one of twelve industrial and commercial disciplines and four dual work/study syllabuses. Given the move towards greater digitalization and electrification, Rolls-Royce Power Systems is also offering training schemes for new career streams: From September 2019, when around 84 trainees and work/study students commence training, six additional IT apprenticeship and degree course places will be added. With its new strategic focus on electrification, hybridization and digitalization, the company needs employees with different skills and capabilities than before.

Poetry slam and tec-boxes

Creativity is also the focus of another event, which is aimed primarily at younger audiences: a Poetry-Slam / Pecha-Kucha-Night on July 25 in Friedrichshafen. This party night is being organized by the mtu youth and apprentice representatives. The aim of another campaign is to stimulate enthusiasm for technology: mtu's vocational training department will hand over tec-boxes to schools in the area this summer.

Vocational training past and present

The history of dual work/study training in Friedrichshafen began in 1919 with the decision to establish a permanent vocational training workshop in close collaboration with an in-house works college. This had been preceded by a training school for women and young people during the First World War. They had been trained to keep burgeoning engine production going during wartime. Its positive experience in creating skilled workers prompted mtu's predecessor company, Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH, to set up a high-quality training workshop for technical professions together with other companies in the Zeppelin group, to which Maybach belonged at the time. This was opened in May 1920. By the end of 1920, the company already had 112 apprentices. In 1921 the building for the works college, which was open to all apprentices of the Zeppelin Foundation companies, was completed. Instruction was given by vocational school teachers and Maybach engineers. After 1945, when the Second World War was over, the vocational training center was established and expanded, also covering commercial and administrative disciplines. The merger of Daimler and Maybach in the 1960s added further premises at mtu Plant 2 in Manzell.

Skills training and personal development

Today, vocational training is concentrated on mtu Plant 1 in Friedrichshafen. The wide range of training courses currently covers twelve industrial and commercial/administrative occupations. In addition, the company offers four dual work/study courses in mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, electrical engineering and business administration. The company currently has 189 apprentices and dual work/study students. Training boss Martin Stocker is interested not merely in imparting technical skills and abilities. mtu's training program attaches great importance to the personal development of young people. Stocker: “Our task is also to prepare our youngsters' characters for the careers they have ahead of them. Technical training alone falls short of the mark. We want employees with creativity and character. In future, this is going to be more important than ever,” he added. The instructors play a key role here. 8 of the 14 trainers in Friedrichshafen have trained as vocational and skills development educators or vocational educators.

mtu vocational training in high demand abroad

Rolls-Royce Power Systems offers sound vocational training not only in Friedrichshafen and the other German locations of Augsburg, Magdeburg and Ruhstorf, but also abroad, in places like Bergen, Norway. mtu's vocational training made headlines across the United States when the company established a dual work/study training program at its mtu plant in Aiken, South Carolina based on the German model in order to train skilled workers. The company also offers dual training for young professionals at its plant in Mankato, Minnesota.
Wolfgang Boller Spokesman Regional and Business Media
+49 7541 90 2159