District President Hillenbrand visits ept GmbH
For ‘Bavarian Apprenticeship Day 2016,’ District President Christoph Hillenbrand visited medium-sized connector manufacturer ept GmbH in Peiting. ‘Apprenticeship Day’ is an annual event held by the Bavarian state government. District government officials use this day to visit local businesses and learn about current apprenticeship offerings in person. Officials select companies that make special contributions in the area of apprentice training.
In Peiting, Christoph Hildebrand as well as Franz Lutz, Division Head of Economy, State Development, and Transportation, Arno Vitallowitz, State Director for Economic Development, and Ludwig Obermeier from the Division of Vocational Schools were greeted by ept’s President Thomas Guglhör. Following a brief introduction covering the history of the company and its development from a stamped parts manufacturer to a worldwide connector specialist, the District President asked about the effects of the current job market situation on ept. In spite of the constant struggle for new, qualified personnel, ept experiences a very low turnover rate. The reason behind this lies in the sense of community employees feel in this family-run company. “Our father, Bernhard Guglhör, established the foundation of ept,” explains President Thomas Guglhör. “My brother and I continue to run the company according to his philosophy. Qualified employees are clearly very important to us, but we must remember to consider the human dimension as well.”
ept also recognizes the importance of training the next generation of talent. “The high apprenticeship rate was one of the main factors that drew our attention to this company,” says District President Christoph Hillenbrand. “This is an impressive achievement – alongside ept’s general commitment to the field of vocational training,” he continues, praising the company’s efforts. ept has been offering apprenticeship training for over 40 years. The current apprenticeship rate of 18 percent is high in comparison with the market average of 10 percent.
In addition, ept offers additional activities, such as holiday programs, technology weeks, and career information days as well as programs to help promote the integration of women in technical professions, for example ept’s annual Girls’ Day. These programs have had impressive results, and 22 of the 98 current apprentices at ept are women. This commitment to apprenticeship training has resulted in a sharp rise in incoming applications for apprenticeship placements over the past two years. Although the company already has a high apprenticeship rate, ept decided to create three additional placements in the form of an entry-level qualification. A 16-year-old young woman and two 21-year-old recognized Syrian refugees were selected for these new placements. All three candidates previously completed one-week internships at ept.
“Our experiences have been entirely positive,” says Konrad Socher, head of the ept training center in Peiting, commenting on the company’s work with refugees. “These candidates are open to learning new things and very hardworking. However we sometimes have to work through language barriers when it comes to technical terminology.” For Christoph Hillenbrand, this is one place where government support may be needed. “Standardized language classes for refugees would certainly be a big help when it comes to integration. Companies cannot be expected to navigate these challenges on their own.”
Finally, Christoph Hillenbrand toured the facility to get a first-hand impression of the training center. He also had the opportunity to speak with both recognized Syrian asylum-seekers about their experiences over the past few weeks. At the end of his visit, which ran an hour longer than originally planned, District President Christoph Hillenbrand thanked everyone for sharing their insights into the company’s apprentice training program and praised the company for its efforts to integrate young people from immigrant families. “I am pleased to see how this mid-sized company has become one of the first enterprises in Upper Bavaria to meet this broad societal challenge with such aplomb, and thereby make such important, forward-thinking contributions.”