Vocational Training Center’s Apprentices Learn Remotely with Digital Tools
Burghausen, Apr 09, 2020
Due to the coronavirus-related restrictions, many WACKER employees are working remotely at home. Similarly, the Burghausen Vocational Training Center (BBiW) has its apprentices working from home with digital tools. The Center’s team collaborated with WACKER IT to make this possible, quickly setting up the virtual infrastructure.
Burghausen’s Vocational Training Center (BBiW) has played a major role in southern Bavaria since 1971. Its team is currently training about 700 apprentices for WACKER and partner companies. About 500 of them are employed at WACKER.
At present, the Center has stopped holding on-site courses to protect its apprentices’ health. The question facing Richard Stubenvoll, BBiW director, and his team was: “How can we at least partially continue with our courses?” Their answer was to intensify communications via digital media. With digital communication tools and practice-oriented teaching units, the Center is continuing its courses amid the corona crisis.
The Center had tested digital education before the virus’s outbreak. With their HoloLens (3D goggles) and tablets, apprentices monitored processes in production facilities. With VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality), chemical and engineering apprentices learned about using digital processes. It’s often a lot of fun – the virtual welding simulator, for instance.
In September 2019, at the start of the training year, the Center supplied tablets not only to WACKER’s new commercial apprentices, but also to their young colleagues in the fields of chemistry, electrical engineering and metalworking. With their tablets, apprentices started downloading educational software, digital textbooks and practical applications. Trainers began uploading online exercises, schedules and instructions. Apprentices with questions about courses or course material simply contacted a trainer or fellow apprentice online. And, today, this virtual world functions from home, too.
“Discussions, exchanges and feedback amongst apprentices and with their trainers is a key success factor for our work,” says Richard Stubenvoll, the Center’s head. That’s why his team and their IT colleagues harnessed additional digital opportunities, such as Webex Teams. The apprentices quickly got proficient at using it. Highly motivated, they overcame any initial difficulties and now meet up with their trainers and fellow apprentices in a new, virtual world. “Our trainers offer learning support, post course material, have chats with apprentices, and work on online files with them,” explains Richard Stubenvoll.
At present, the Center communicates with about 90 percent of its apprentices via digital channels and is working on increasing this high percentage. External participants can also dial in to their courses and to training events.
For our apprentices, the challenging circumstances offer them opportunities to acquire additional skills. It is not only a question of using new digital tools. They must also organize themselves effectively at home to complete learning assignments.
One priority for trainers is to keep up their intensive support for any apprentices preparing for final exams. Each trainer sets them assignments with clear deadlines, corrects the returned work, and sends it back with additional comments.
The Center’s experience with the new situation is a strong source of inspiration and ideas about its digital future. Once corona is over, the Center’s team does not to lose the new options for fast and easy communication, for providing course material and for chat sessions. As Richard Stubenvoll explains: “Digitalization’s rapid advance creates new career challenges, especially in the areas of production and engineering. During their training, apprentices learn how to work with digital media and networked IT systems – becoming ideally qualified.” A very important point for the Center’s head is that “none of our digital advances would be possible without the great dedication of our trainers. They deserve my special thanks in these difficult times.”