Pia Heintz-Kästner: Fit for the future with the right apprenticeship and further training programmes

There are almost 1.6 million engineers em­­ployed in Germany. Of this total, roughly half are employed in traditional engineer­­ing jobs. In addition, engineers work as university professors, for federal and local governments or in inspection authorities. Almost 40,000 engineers need to be re­­placed every year if all these positions are to remain filled over the next few years. Although this personnel shortfall is general knowledge, the num­­ber of students beginning engineering studies has in­­creased significantly in re­­cent years. One reason for this are the ex­­cel­­lent job oppor­­tunities on the labour market and lucra­­tive starting salaries. However, only a wide-ranging programme of apprentice­­ships and further training will allow Ger­­many and its companies to remain com­­­petitive. After all, well-trained employees are not only satisfied em­­ploy­ees: they are the foundation of companies’ success and make them fit for the future.

Promoting tomorrow’s talents today. What, how and where? A central theme and clear concepts are important when it comes to providing students with guid­­ance for future career choices while they are still at school. That is why Schenck Process provides school students with a wide range of services to give them a first taste of the exciting world of engin­­eering. These include a variety of work experience placements, educational events held at schools combined with discussions and presentations on ap­­prenticeship and degree options, and special MINT projects. In addition, we open our doors to interested young peo­­ple as part of the annual “Darmstädter Nacht der Ausbildung” (Darmstadt Night of Apprenticeships).

Finished school – now what? Engineers are the educational climbers par excellence. The first step into professional life is the most important. After all, what matters is finding a company that de­­mands a lot from apprentices, encourages their talents and opens doors for a future career. It does not matter whether young people choose a vocational appren­­ticeship or dual degree programme: an apprenticeship is often the perfect basis for entering the labour market. The goal is to provide constant personal and profes­­sional support for young employees.

Dual degree programme – two are better than one. We have been offering appren­­ticeships as part of dual degree programmes in cooperation with Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State Univer­­sity Mannheim since as far back as 1982. This is an alternative to traditional university studies which focuses not only on theoretical studies, but also on professional practice. The range of courses on offer is broad and includes technical and business degrees. The apprenticeships are complemented by special measures such as project work, seminars and as­­signments at customers’ sites, as well as the opportunity to gain initial professional experience around the world.

StartIng – young engineers off to a successful start. Since 2012, Schenk Pro­­cess has offered a new, practice-oriented qualification programme called “StartIng”, which is designed to prepare students graduating with Bachelor degrees from the Cooperative University more thoroughly for their future profession. To do this, the StartIng participant works in different departments for 12 months. Patrick Lindemann is Schenck Process’ first StartIng participant. He describes his life as a StartIng participant as “ex­­citing, diverse, but also demanding”. He is particularly excited by the fact that the programme took him to Schenk Pro­­cess India and Korea. His conclusion: “I’m looking forward to the new challenges and have not regretted my decision.”

University studies – initiative is rewarded. During their studies, engineers develop the ability to apply abstract mathematical and analytical models at a high level. However, theory means nothing without practical experience. Students benefit from the many activities we offer: whether it be work experience, final theses, part-time student jobs or project work – a broad range of interesting meas­­ures is possible. This even includes schol­­arships that we award in cooperation with the TU Darmstadt and Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences. In this, we not only support the scholars financially, we also help them along the way with a tremendous amount of practical expertise, for example cooperation on practical projects, participation in in­ter­­nal training courses or support from mentors. It is not uncommon for success­­ful projects to result in a direct job offer.

Schenck Process has been offering its own apprenticeship programme since 2010. Since then we have trained and supported about 35 students from the Cooperative University and 40 apprentices. 90 per cent of them still work at the company, and apprentices currently make up seven per cent of the staff.


Women in the world of technology. Wom­­en and technology – still uncharted territory for many. However, practice proves that there is a different way. While only around 15 per cent of Mechatronics students at the Cooperative University are female, the proportion of women at our company is 30 per cent. It is for good reason that an increasing number of young women are choosing a technical education. At Schenk Process, we not only believe that women are capable of technical professions; we actively support them. “As Cooperative Univer­­sity students, we enjoy targeted support here and benefit from a wide variety of opportunities even during our studies,” says Mareike Kallenbach. She also gained valuable practical experience in Austra­lia and India during her studies at the Cooperative University. Time abroad is not only beneficial from a professional perspective; it also provides the all-im­­portant intercultural skills that are in­­creasingly in demand from internationally active companies.

Professionals – promoting employees at all levels. Our support does not stop at school, apprenticeship and degree opportunities. We also support and pro­­­mote employees who are well-established in their professions. They are the company’s future and its greatest asset. That is why we see further training as a contribution to the company’s innovative strength. A wide range of further training opportunities is essential for this. This includes, for example, the “global employee training” programme – g>e>t for short. This training programme provides in-depth information on the most important Schenk Process products and technologies as well as on overarching topics such as “Strategic Selling” or “Pro­­fessional Project Management”. Our em­­ployees in Darmstadt can choose from about 80 seminars offered as part of our further training programme. The comprehensive further training programme also includes computer training, language courses, presentation sem­­inars and the “open your mind” series, in which employees can extend their horizons beyond their daily activities through presentations on various topics. Apprenticeships and further training at Schenk Process: one good reason why we have been chosen as Germany’s “Top Employer for Engineers” for the sixth time.

SP_130228_078_HeintzKaestner-KopiePia Heintz-Kästner, Vice President Human Resources, has worked for the Schenck Process Group for more than 25 years. She has held various positions in Human Re­­sources during her time at the company. Today, she is responsible for Human Re­­sources throughout the entire Group. Pia Heintz-Kästner studied at Ludwigs­­hafen University of Applied Sciences and obtained a degree in Business Adminis­tration.