A future in Schwanau – Spanish apprentices taken on full-time

To escape the high youth unemployment in their homeland, seven young Spaniards began an apprenticeship as industrial mechanics at Herrenknecht in September 2014. All in all an exemplary success story! Six of the career starters successfully completed their dual vocational training and have now joined different departments. Herrenknecht is thus offering the Spanish youngsters good prospects for their future careers.

April 9, 2018 Schwanau, Germany.  Pretty difficult, complicated, challenging – the Spanish graduates agree that starting their apprenticeship, away from home and in a foreign language, was not easy. Through a funding program, run by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the seven young men began their three-and-a-half-year vocational training as industrial mechanics at Herrenknecht’s Schwanau headquarters in the fall of 2014. The special European Union program aims to ensure the supply of skilled manpower in Germany and to contribute to reducing the high level of youth unemployment in Spain.

Six young Spaniards at the start of their careers have now successfully completed their vocational training. Due to a shortening of their apprenticeships to three years, Jon Alvarez Svescun (23), Mikel Lasa Apeztegia and Daniel Fernandez Sanchez (both 31) already finished in the summer of last year. All in all an exemplary success story!   "I thought it would be much colder here in Germany," says Jon Alvarez Svescun. Instead the Ortenau landscape reminds him of his Spanish homeland near Navarre. Since he was taken on full-time, Jon has been working in the area of drive and augers assembly for smaller utility machines. He and the other young Spaniards have meanwhile settled in well. They have found their own apartments and friends in the region and are active in local clubs. Today they all feel very much at home at the tunnel boring machine manufacturer and can well imagine a future career at Herrenknecht.

This has been made possible by the active support of the training company, the vocational school and the »German Employees Academy« (DAA) in Lahr. "What I found particularly good about the apprenticeship was that all the trainers always took the time to answer questions and explain everything exactly," says Daniel Fernandez Sanchez. "We received a lot of help from teachers, work colleagues and Head of Training Klaus Himmelsbach." Right at the beginning of the apprenticeship, for example, the Spanish-speaking Herrenknecht employee Paloma Nieto helped with German lessons and translated the content. Learning the language quickly was the basic prerequisite for the Spanish trainees to be able to follow the technical instruction. The vocational training School in Lahr had divided the class for optimal support and adapted teaching contents to the needs of the foreign-language apprentices. 

In addition to school education, an intensive pedagogical guidance was very important. As part of the support during training, the DAA organized integration programs such as group leisure activities or company visits, and offered special exam preparation assistance. The EU-supported trainees also benefited from additional teaching units in German and job-related technical knowledge. "The intensive support of foreign-language trainees was a big challenge. It was, however, a great and very intensive time for all of us and we are glad that all six of them have successfully completed their apprenticeship ", says Doris Adler from the DAA.

The junior employees were particularly pleased that the dual training system in Germany allowed them to gain lots of specialist knowledge and practical work experience. They are all proud of their qualifications and glad to have opted for an apprenticeship at Herrenknecht. "It's still incredible for me to be here. I come to work every day very satisfied," reports 24-year-old Alberto Salvarria Munoz. "I'd be really pleased if I get sent to Spanish jobsites in the near future."

Herrenknecht is one of the largest training companies in the region, with around 160 apprenticeships per year at the Schwanau location and a 2,000 square meter training workshop equipped with state-of-the-art machinery. At the same time, the company puts an emphasis on supporting international junior staff. For example, five refugees from Syria, Gambia and Guinea have started their apprenticeship at Herrenknecht in autumn 2017 and get attractive prospects for their future careers.
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Steffen Dubé President and General Manager Herrenknecht Tunnelling Systems USA Inc.
Gerhard Goisser Commercial Manager Herrenknecht Tunnelling Systems USA, Inc.