“We want to shape the future with our junior staff!”
Interview on new scheme that guarantees employment for trainees at Ottobock
Ottobock has been investing in qualified junior staff since 1948. Sixty-three young people are currently undergoing training in the company. They are preparing for the start of their careers in fifteen different training occupations and two dual study programmes. The trainees know they will have solid employment prospects in a medical technology company thanks to our new guarantee of employment when they complete their training. The guidelines for the scheme were developed by a team led by Bianca Holler, Head of Global HR, in close cooperation with the Works Council and Executive Board.
The Youth and Trainee Representative Body also played a key role in putting together the guidelines. Working together with Head of Training Stefanie Senhen, they succeeded in developing and implementing a points system in just six months. We discussed the new guaranteed employment scheme for apprentices with Bianca Holler, Stefanie Senhen, Konstantin Preiß, electrical engineer trainee and member of the Youth and Trainee Representative Body, and industrial mechanic trainee Luca Rink.
Ms Holler, Ottobock now offers guaranteed employment for trainees. What is that all about?
Bianca Holler: Together with the Works Council, in September, we concluded a works agreement that provides for hiring trainees after completion of training at our Duderstadt and Göttingen locations. We agreed on a procedure in which a committee determines whether individual trainees are entitled to permanent employment six months prior to the end of their training. This approach has standardised the process and lets both sides plan with a greater degree of certainty.
What advantages does guaranteed employment offer?
Bianca Holler: Guaranteed employment benefits our trainees, as we can offer them career prospects after completing their training, and it benefits us as a company as well. Ideally, this approach will help us retain engaged, highly trained junior staff over the long term and ensure that we have enough specialists to meet our needs.
Mr Preiß, what do the trainees think of the guaranteed employment scheme?
Konstantin Preiß: We’re really pleased that the Executive Board has agreed to offer guaranteed employment. Through our performance and commitment during training, we can influence our future careers ourselves. I think working at a company that takes care of its trainees is fantastic.
Ms Senhen, how exactly do you determine whether an individual trainee is entitled to permanent employment?
Stefanie Senhen: We developed a points system with various performance criteria to help us with this. We average out the marks our trainees receive at vocational school, the evaluations from the various phases of training as well as the results they receive on their intermediate exam and the first part of the final exam.
Are your trainees on the dual study programmes also offered guaranteed employment?
Stefanie Senhen: We offer guaranteed employment to our dual study trainees as well. The only difference is that the evaluation of whether they are entitled to employment is carried out based on slightly different performance criteria. Their marks from the vocational academy or university and the evaluations from the various phases of training are each factored in at a rate of 50 percent.
And what happens after the evaluation?
Stefanie Senhen: The evaluation leads to three potential scenarios. Ideally, the trainee is entitled to a permanent position – provided that they have achieved the required number of points and a post is available for them. Depending on the outcome of the evaluation, they may also be entitled to a temporary position for one year or six months.
What happens if a trainee doesn't achieve the minimum points required?
Stefanie Senhen: Trainees who don’t have the minimum number of points can apply for vacancies, which gives them the chance to impress during the selection process. We extend the guarantee of employment to trainees with very good to satisfactory performance throughout the duration of the training. If, for example, a trainee shows positive development only towards the end of their training, we may also decide to continue working together outside the guaranteed employment scheme if an appropriate position is available.
What opportunities do trainees have after being taken on temporarily?
Bianca Holler: There is a selection procedure for every position we fill at Ottobock. The trainees can apply for the positions and have the same chances as any other internal or external applicant. If their performance is a good match, we’re naturally interested in continuing working with them and hope that the employee wants to stay with the company.
Do you expect the proportion of trainees that are taken on to change in future?
Bianca Holler: I don’t, to be honest. Training has always been and continues to be an important factor for Ottobock. We’re very conscious of the responsibility we have to the region and the people who live here. The rates at which we hire trainees have been consistently high for many years – and these probably won’t change significantly as a result of the guaranteed employment scheme. But offering guaranteed employment sends a very clear signal – we want to shape the future of Ottobock with our junior staff. And we hope that young people decide to apply for our training organisation for this precise reason!
Trainee Luca Rink, who will soon complete his training as an industrial mechanic, is one of those benefiting from the guaranteed employment scheme:
Luca Rink: I think it’s great that guaranteed employment won’t just be offered to future trainees, as I’m set to finish in January and am already benefiting from the scheme. I’ve been guaranteed a position and will start working in iFab once my training is completed. I’ll primarily be working on programming our CNC milling robots there.