As one of Austria’s major employers of skilled technical personnel, plastics machinery manufacturer Engel has long been a supporter of Girl’s Day, an annual event designed to broaden the awareness of the the opportunities open to girls in, among, others, the technical professions. This year, the twentieth edition took place on April 22 as a virtual event.
"Girls' Day is a classic win-win situation," says Werner Wurm, head of the global apprentice training programme at ENGEL. "Finding qualified and committed skilled workers is increasingly becoming a challenge for companies. For us, events like Girls' Day are the best way to get young women excited about a technical profession. The girls, in turn, get to experience new vocational fields and can see for themselves how much talent they have for a technical profession."
Girl’s Day can influence choices about the future, said Anna Spiegl, a third-year mechatronics apprentice with ENGEL in Schwertberg, who, during her time at school, took advantage of Girl’s Day to visit various industrial companies. "I already knew beforehand that I wanted to take up a technical profession.,” she said. “Girls’ Day encouraged me in my decision.”
Yet many of her female classmates had never considered or were even aware of the possibilities a future in technology could hold. Girls' Day helped them change their minds, she said.
"The fact that a disproportionate number of women still opt for something that is considered a typically female profession is mainly due to a lack of knowledge about alternatives and by no means due to a lack of aptitude," said Wurm.
Currently, some 15% of apprentices at Engel are women. A mechatronics apprentice like Anna Spiegl must master a broad range of skills.
"Everything is covered, from filing and drilling to machine start-up," says Anna Spiegl, who is currently working in assembly.
Her colleague Denise Lettner, an apprentice in IT technology just finished a stint in client service. “I was responsible for setting up computers there, for example. At the moment, I'm working in infrastructure, where I create new user accounts, among other things."
Lettner discovered Engel during a search on the internet. "Finding a company in the region that offers an apprenticeship in the IT sector was not that easy. After the trial day at ENGEL, it was clear: I want to work here.”
Engel has been running in-house emplyee training programmes for many years. The company currently has some 180 apprentices at its Austrian plants in Schwertberg, St. Valentin and Dietach, spread across eight technical disciplines: mechatronics, information technology, machining technology, mechanical engineering technology, plastics technology, materials technology, mechanical engineering design and operational logistics.
As a Dual Academy training company, Engel offers practical training to young adults who would like to start their careers after completing their university entrance qualification. Apprentices may also gain international experience early on in the apprenticeship: Engel also provides professional training abroad as a way to build a pipeline of skilled workers, offering training in China, the Czech Republic and Germany.