Training on an equal footing
The development of apprentices poses great challenges to companies and their instructors on a day-to-day basis. With the “GROW” programme, the DMK Group has initiated a multi-year process with the aim of improving training. The main focus was on how instructors can better support apprentices in their personal development. However, this approach is rarely formalised in companies' training policies. With this pioneering project, the DMK Group is now leading the way in introducing new structures and standards.
“We want to send a clear message that training is not a secondary concern for us”
2020 was a year of uncertainty for many apprentices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many were faced with the question of how to complete their training at all during a time of lockdowns and ongoing restrictions on contact. Companies had to make enormous efforts to ensure that this could be achieved. “We had to react quickly and ensure that apprentices and instructors alike were able to work from home wherever possible. By doing this, our apprentices have already gained valuable experience with digital learning and online exams,” explains Ines Krummacker, CHRO of the DMK Group. In addition, we have moved team-building activities, such as our annual StartUp event, online within a very short time. But of course, this cannot hide the fact that as a modern company we have to face the changing demands placed on training in general. As a company that takes on more than 90 new apprentices every year, we have noticed that the new generation expects more from a good education.” It is not by chance that apprenticeships now have to compete with universities of applied sciences, as many hope that a degree will offer them better opportunities for advancement. That is why the DMK Group reviewed and completely overhauled its training standards in the midst of the pandemic. The “GROW” programme is the result. And that has one goal above all else: Training on an equal footing.
“We left no stone unturned in our preparation for this project, examining how we need to transform our training system to best support the development of our apprentices and create a modern working environment,” says Ines Krummacker. The factor “time” turned out to be important, as the instructors always have to manage a balancing act between their main job and their students. That is why we decided to address the time factor in the first step: Starting immediately, each instructor will be allocated 2.5 hours per week per apprentice to devote to training. “We want to send a clear message that training is not a secondary concern for us,” emphasises Ines Krummacker.
In addition, new training principles, which are expected to have a significant influence on apprenticeships, were also established in consultation with the instructors. The focus is on the apprentices' holistic development in that the new freedom given to the instructors promotes individual support – entirely according to their respective strengths and weaknesses. The foundation for this was laid with online questionnaires, feedback sessions and reflection workshops. The aim is to identify positive examples in employee development and to define clear guidelines as a basis for all training activities. This in turn means that instructors must also continue to work on their qualifications and develop an understanding of the changing demands of teaching. “We want to give them the tools to make the most of these new opportunities. The contact restrictions mean that we are currently rolling out the new standards within the company through digital workshops, thereby laying the foundation for our new training system,” explains Sabina Wieczorek, HR Development Manager at DMK Group. “At first this was a challenge, of course, as we were also faced with the question of how best to impart knowledge via videoconferencing.” Having reached the end of this development process, there is now a programme that prepares more than 60 instructors in the DMK Group for the new requirements over several stages. On this basis, “GROW” will then be implemented as the new guideline for training.
„Training is an integral part of our DMK culture.”
Ines Krummacker believes that this puts the DMK Group in a good position: “Even though we already had a good training system, we need to think ahead and realign ourselves in terms of training. We want to appeal to a new generation and improve our overall quality in order to train and retain the qualified professionals of tomorrow. This valuable work, which is critical for our future, needs full support and must not be a secondary concern. Training is an integral part of our DMK culture.”