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Life Phases and Competence-based Career Path Planning

Steinbeis Transfer Institute certifies further education for employability project

Since January 2014, the machine tool producer and laser specialist Trumpf has been working on a concept to promote career planning based on life phases. The idea is to promote the health and performance of its service technicians over the long term, thus ensuring the employability of its older, more experienced employees. The human resources department plans to go about this by developing a life phase-oriented concept for planning career paths. The Steinbeis Transfer Institute competence institute unisono (kiu), which is based at Steinbeis University Berlin, is supporting Trumpf with its concept by providing continuing professional development (CPD) to service technicians as an alternative to manual experience in the field.

Fit for Service (F4S) is part of a project initiated by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research. Its project, EPO-KAD, focuses on rounding off the potential of older employees through competence management based on the employee’s life stage and designing special work processes as part of delivering industrial services. Within the scope of F4S, the human resources development department at Trumpf is concentrating on the job-related maturity phases of its employees. In this phase, older, more experienced field service technicians should be given career options involving less manual tasks. The primary aim lies in reducing the physical activities involved while simultaneously offering more alternatives to engage in other types of demanding tasks – jobs that make good use of the many years of experience offered by the service technicians. So these older employees could, for example, be more involved in the practical training of younger colleagues or serve as trainers for customers. At the same time, this could potentially counteract the risk of employees leaving their job unnecessarily early, which would spell a loss of knowledge and skills for the company.

Trumpf has planned various measures for its service technicians as part of their training for new roles. The company recently instituted a certified CPD program. Its training program to become a “Competence ServicesConsultant” has been certified by the Steinbeis Transfer Institute kiu based at Steinbeis University Berlin. It was developed in cooperation with the SteginkGroup Academy. This innovative concept was designed to meet the needs of life stage-oriented CPD in medium-sized and large manufacturing companies. At Trumpf, it is aimed at specialists currently employed by the company.

The tasks and responsibilities of service technicians in machinery and plant engineering are very diverse. Maintenance, repair, assembly, and ramp-ups entail a broad variety of tasks. In addition, there are new learn-on-the-job techniques and IT is used heavily in some areas, where everything is about communication and providing advice on applications and machines. In some cases, older, more experienced employees in the service department have limited experience with these IT-based work and instruction methods. The training course to become a certified “Competence ServicesConsultant” (SHB) is modular, teaching service technicians various aspects of interpersonal communication and consulting. They learn how to ask just the right questions to understand customer needs and how to organize, plan, and professionally implement their own specialist training and customer training sessions.

“We started the first module of our certified training program in June. We employ various didactic methods to address the respective topic areas. Between face-to-face sessions, participants are invited to join us in our virtual classroom to ask any questions they may have and provide them with ideas for a follow-up phase,” explains Henriett Stegink, initiator and managing director of the SteginkGroup Academy. She then adds: “Previous course events in Schwabisch Gmund were very successful and they were based on the three pillars of our teaching method: understand, use, evaluate. What I find particularly special about this advanced training is that the course participants network amongst themselves and learn from one another. Just minutes after the first lesson began, there was lively interaction and there was lots of discussion in the breaks.” The course participants also described the training sessions as a success: “The modules really helped me move forward. I was happy to use the opportunity to get constructive feedback after the various exercises,” says Marcus Haug, specialist trainer at Trumpf Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG. Gerd Duffke, program manager for HR development in specialist projects at Trumpf GmbH + Co. KG, sees the training course as an important supplement and an enrichment to existing training courses, and he thinks the certification through Steinbeis University Berlin is first rate. The project has been nominated for the German training award, Bildungspreis 2017. Further training courses for service technicians are planned for the coming year and beyond. This first round of training will serve as a reference and basis for further quality improvements.