Maria Obereisenbuchner, 26, Walter Niedermeier, 44, Thomas Lindner, 47, and Josef Schustereder, 58, are four of a total of almost 40 trainers who prepare around 680 trainees for working life at the BBiW. All four started their careers at WACKER: Thomas Lindner began an apprenticeship in 1982 as an electronics technician for energy facilities, and later qualified as a master craftsman. Josef Schustereder came to WACKER as a plant operator in 1984. A few years later he completed his training as a chemical technician. In 1996, he passed his qualifying examination as a master chemical technician.
Walter Niedermeier started at WACKER in 1985 after an apprenticeship as a fitter and then a fusion welder. He too obtained his master craftsman qualification and additionally trained as a German Welding Society certified welding instructor. In the case of Maria Obereisenbuchner, not so long ago she herself attended the BBiW, where she trained as an industrial mechanic. She passed her final exam in 2007, then gained several years' operating experience at WACKER before transferring to the BBiW as a trainer in 2013.
All four came to the realization that the idea of sharing their professional experience with others appealed to them. None of them has regretted the decision to switch from WACKER to the BBiW, even if the job as a trainer is anything but simple. “We instruct kids from non-academic backgrounds and high-school graduates – our trainees are a very heterogeneous group,” says Walter Niedermeier. “Our skill lies in harmonizing the differences between these individuals and forming a consolidated group.” How does this work? “We intentionally form groups of trainees with mixed abilities.” And if a trainee is having difficulties, the instructors jointly agree on how they can best support him or her.
A key factor here is appreciation rather than strictness. “I remember a trainee who arrived with a bright red Mohawk hairstyle and who had no inclination to learn,” says Josef Schustereder. “After three weeks he was the first to arrive and the last to leave.” Schustereder had allotted him demanding tasks and told him: “You have two hours to produce a result.” The boy soon realized that he was technically gifted and that he even enjoyed the work. After three years, he still had red hair but was amongst the top achievers.