In Sight KTR Podcast Episode 13: Training at KTR – Trainer and trainee report

Julia Ures: „A warm welcome to you all! Nice that you are here, that you are with us today for our new episode of “In Sight KTR”, which will be about training, a traineeship at KTR. And for that, I have two ideal interviewees here in the studio, because they can and will tell you about it firsthand. Our topic today is “A trainer and a trainee report”. Now I would like to introduce to you Raphael Tepe, production foreman and training manager of the cutting machine operators at KTR.“

Raphael Tepe: „Correct!“

Julia Ures: “Eight years with the company. You’ve … Now I’m already being formal, we’ve agreed on the first name basis.”

Raphael Tepe: „With pleasure!“

Julia Ures: “You were also trainee at KTR at the time …”

Raphael Tepe: „Correct!“

Julia Ures: “… and then trained as a cutting machine operator specializing in cutting technology. And now you’re training yourself. It’s an exciting path, isn’t it?”

Raphael Tepe: “Yes, it was quick. And if you live for something, then you can pass it on. That’s how it turned out, and it’s still fun.”

Julia Ures: “Also on board is Lia Midden. She is currently in her second year of training as an industrial clerk. It’s great to have you with us today as well. And you may have already noticed this podcast episode, which is aimed at anyone who is perhaps currently looking for an apprenticeship or is in career orientation, and we are of course also aimed at parents, who may be accompanying young people on this path right now. Raphael, I would like to start with you. We want to do a little work on convincing people. Why should you apply for a traineeship at KTR of all companies? And what makes the training at KTR special?”

Raphael Tepe: “Why KTR in particular? We train this profession and can, I think, represent everything that this profession has to offer. And a family environment, which KTR always prides itself on and which is actually the case. So you have experienced that yourself and experience it every day. We have, in our field in particular that is very important, an ultra-modern machine park and we can explicitly show everything to the trainees. Unfortunately, it is often the case in this profession, in our profession, that training happens on the side. But training here is absolutely in focus. It’s very important to us that we train and that the people we train afterwards ideally stay with us. If that’s possible, it always happens. The trainees actually always want to stay with us, and there’s a reason for that. That’s my daily bread, my job, to do this work of persuasion. We have a profession that lasts 3.5 apprenticeship years. There’s a lot to teach. And I think we do that very well.”

Julia Ures: “You already nodded when Raphael said that it is about a family atmosphere here at KTR. You only notice that when you’re already in training.”

Lia Midden: „Yes.“

Julia Ures: “Let’s start with you a little earlier please. What attracted you to join KTR? And how did you become aware of the company in the first place?”

Lia Midden: “I did an internship at KTR in the marketing department in the final year of high school, and that’s when I really noticed that it’s very familiar here and that everyone is very nice and pleasant with each other and that you are also taken seriously, even as an intern. And I can only confirm that it’s the same in training. You’re taken seriously, you’re given a lot of responsibility and you’re allowed to work very independently.”

Julia Ures: “Can you describe what makes it such a family atmosphere? What exactly is it manifested in?”

Lia Midden: “We’re all on a first-name basis, even the supervisors. And also, it’s a very nice atmosphere, you really enjoy going to work, of course, because you also enjoy your job.”

Julia Ures: “That’s awesome right there.”

Lia Midden: “Exactly! Because it’s a nice atmosphere, a good climate. And you can always get involved. I think that everyone is taken seriously, which is a very, very big part of the experience here. I know that from my family environment as well, that everyone is taken seriously with their problems and fears and suggestions.”

Julia Ures: “Now we have a trainee here who can tell us how things actually work from the time of application to the time of employment. What actually happened back then? How can we picture it?”

Lia Midden: “I submitted my application here as usual, of course, and was then invited to a speed dating session that lasted 20 minutes. There we had a very casual chat. It was really about us getting to know each other, both the HR people and I the company.”

Julia Ures: “Were you very excited?”

Lia Midden: “It was actually okay because I felt very comfortable here in the first place.”

Julia Ures: “Very nice!”

Lia Midden: “Then I was invited to another job interview. That was a bit more detailed. But even there it was really totally relaxed and not a bit that they quizzed you or the knowledge was queried. It was really about the recruiters, that they found out more about me, that they got to know me. And it was really purely about the personality. Then I received a call from Holger Klinge quite quickly and was accepted. And then it all started on August 1, 2019.”

Julia Ures: “Then it started. We’ll talk about that in a little more detail in a moment. Raphael, when it comes to hiring a new apprentice or selecting a new apprentice, what do you value, what should they perhaps already bring along? Or what can they take away from KTR as well?”

Raphael Tepe: “That is precisely the point. You don’t have to bring very much along. You just have to be motivated and willing to learn. That’s why you don’t really need to bring anything along, because in training you’re taught what you’ll need on the job later. As I said before, we try to cover everything. And that’s why it’s very important to contribute to the training motivation, the will to learn something. And then to go out as a skilled worker, that’s our goal. If you focus on school education, a good secondary school diploma or a high school diploma is sufficient to become a cutting machine operator. If you want to go into more depth, then I would say math and physics, i.e. scientific subjects. But in principle, that’s not compulsory either. We want to have people who are motivated to learn something, and that’s enough.”

Julia Ures: “So the interest is the most important thing, the interest in the subject. Now, for example, there are always milestones like midterm exams. Can you also support students there? Are there any learning or support programs, anything?”

Raphael Tepe: “Definitely! It starts on August 1, the preparation for the final exam part 1 and final exam part 2. Well, we are a newly organized profession, so there is no so-called intermediate exam. But because the final exam part 1 already counts for 40% of the final grade, it is taken very seriously and the preparation actually starts on day 1. Now, we don’t just intensively go through books, but of course mainly the practical part, although we also deal with the theoretical part of course and provide support if help is needed. We practice with the trainees before every exam. Whether it’s a final exam, part 1 or part 2, it makes no difference. So from day 1 every day.”

Julia Ures: “That means no one needs to be afraid of the midterms there either?”

Raphael Tepe: “Absolutely not! No. That’s my job to prevent that.”

Julia Ures: “Especially in machining, I can imagine it’s not that easy to find trainees. Is that true? So is it difficult in these days?”

Raphael Tepe: “It’s ok. We have not yet had any years where we have said that we now have no choice of trainees. I think if you compare that with the profession of industrial clerk, we have quite little choice, that’s actually the case. But we still get enough applications. But then you have to pick the right ones.”

Julia Ures: “And since suitable skilled workers are relatively scarce these days, I imagine the chances of being taken on are also good, right?”

Raphael Tepe: “Yes, of course it’s not always possible, or sometimes it’s just not possible. We’ve had a pandemic for more than a year, which hasn’t left us completely unscathed, and it’s been difficult for us to take on trainees. But when it is possible, and it was for many years, the rate was 100%. Always keeping pace with growth, we need our apprentices, who we will later need as skilled workers. And that’s why: yes, it’s quite possible to take them on.”

Julia Ures: “We’ve just talked about this special bond within the company. And our viewers, our listeners who follow our podcast, are also interested in how you are received as a trainee. We always get questions sent to socialmedia@ktr.com and of course we would like to invite you to continue to do so, to continue to send us your questions about all areas concerning KTR. And there was also the question about this special team spirit. We have already talked about the fact that even the superiors are on first-name terms, which is certainly not a self-evident fact in other companies. How is the relationship among the trainees?”

Lia Midden: “Very good. When it’s not Corona, we always have lunch together or trainee parties or occasionally meet up in our free time. That’s really very good. And not just the commercial trainees, but also from the technical area or from the industrial area, if it’s possible. So it’s really very good.”

Julia Ures: “Raphael, do you actually hire the same number of apprentices every year?”

Raphael Tepe: “No. It’s not like that. We are in a steady growth, at least with us at the cutting machine operators. A few years ago, well before my time, we started with one trainee per year, and in the meantime we have had 3 trainees per year, and currently and for 2020 we have again taken on two trainees on August 1. But if the possibility exists, and the economic situation is also picking up, there is nothing to stop us taking on 3 trainees again in 2021.”

Julia Ures: “Now, just as we’re talking about this here in the conversation, a question comes to mind, is there actually also sometimes then such an interjection or objection: will this work actually be taken over by a robot at some point – so how is it actually with the cutting mechanic – or will a machine take over?”

Raphael Tepe: “I almost thought that such a question would come, because that’s typical. But I can also just keep emphasizing it: Work will never go away, work is just changing. We’ve been noticing that for a few years now, technology, digitalization and automation are making their way in, also in our company and also a lot. But the robots still need people to operate them somewhere, or to make sure they run. Of course, they do simple tasks, and we need that, too. So it’s not the physical job that it might have been in the past. But because of that, it’s also becoming a much more intense job or a job where you have to think more than maybe it used to be. So not that I want to downgrade that now, but it’s different. It’s just changed the profession. And perhaps it no longer needs simple employees, but skilled workers. And that’s why we train people.”

Julia Ures: “That makes the challenges all the more exciting, actually.”

Raphael Tepe: „Definitely! Yes.”

Julia Ures: “Lia, the exciting thing about your training is that you’re training to be an industrial clerk, so you get to see all the departments. That means you actually get an insight into all departments. What has been the most exciting station for you so far?”

Lia Midden: “I have actually been in all departments, also in the industrial area at Tacke in assembly, in logistics. And I would say that overall it was actually the whole picture. To see the processes in all departments and to understand the big picture. And then maybe also problems that exist that you can’t otherwise understand if you don’t know the entire company and the processes in the entire operation.”

Julia Ures: “We received an exciting question from the audience for the closing, namely to Raphael: Have the trainees actually changed in the last few years, in the way they work or in their behavior? Can you observe anything there?”

Raphael Tepe: “Yes, definitely. I’m not the one who has been with the company for 40 years now, but I still know it from my training days. I think digital technology plays a very big role. And perhaps when I was doing my apprenticeship, not everyone who entered the program knew how to use a PC or a laptop of any kind, or a game console. Today, technology has also found its way into all schools. And yes, that’s where the work has changed or the trainees have changed. They are already directly familiar with digital media. And that also helps us in training, because that’s also a big part of it. So absolutely, I can confirm.”

Julia Ures: “Lia, you are now in your second year of training. Have you already drawn up a picture for yourself of how things could or should go after your apprenticeship?”

Lia Midden: “That’s a tough question.”

Julia Ures: ” If you could just make a wish right now.”

Lia Midden: “I would definitely like to continue my studies. I would also like to do this with KTR, because it is also supported in the form of a dual study program or something similar. Let’s see what doors open up there. I’m curious.”

Julia Ures: “Then I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this comes out the way that is good for you, the way you want it to come out.”

 Lia Midden: „Thank you!“

Julia Ures: “Raphael, to you too, thank you so much!”

Raphael Tepe: “Gladly!”

Julia Ures: “And then, of course, I wish you lots and lots of applications from …”

Raphael Tepe: “Let’s hope so!”

Julia Ures: “… prospective trainees. You can find all the information about available apprenticeships and, of course, videos to watch and lots of information at ktr-karriere.de. Feel free to take a look there. And if you, as I said earlier, are perhaps also a parent or grandparent or in the situation, perhaps also a teacher, educator, that you accompany young people on their way to choosing a career, then you are also welcome to recommend this site to them, there is a lot worth knowing. And may I say goodbye to you in this episode of “In Sight KTR”. We’ll see and hear you again next time.”