2020-11-04

Successful Integration

It is not uncommon in China for there to be collaboration between companies and education institutions in the area of vocational training. However, a dual system, such as the one in Germany, is rather unusual for China. Generally, before completing their studies, students go to do a short internship in a company and then after that they begin their professional career, taking with them the report from this. Yet this concept does not always meet the specific requirements in the individual industrial sectors, especially where jobs with strong practical skills are concerned, for example in the case of service technicians for industrial trucks. The KION brands Linde Material Handling and Baoli have a great need for well-trained employees. For some years now, they have been using the German dual system as a model and breaking new ground in China.

Optimum Preparation in the “Baoli Class”

The idea of a special class specifically for trainees who want to become service technicians was first thought of at Baoli in 2015. This new approach, designed to give students the best possible preparation for their future professional life, is actively supported by Shanxi Polytechnic College in the province of Shanxi. Since 2016, once they have completed their first year of basic studies, students from technology programs can take a test to be accepted onto the “Baoli Class”. The teaching rooms are set up as “workshops” and the lecturers, who are mostly engineers from this KION subsidiary, deliver 80 percent of the teaching. For the practical teaching, which is the preferred part of the course, Baoli has driven two forklift trucks into the 600 m2 teaching space.

When it comes to the lesson design, Baoli no longer relies on the traditional method of learning by rote but is guided by German learning methods—an approach that is extremely popular with the trainees. “The teaching isn’t remotely dry because the lecturer involves us in the lesson and discusses the subjects with us,” says Zhou Junlei, a student in the Baoli Class, “this helps us to acquire a strong and well-balanced knowledge base.” He joined the special class for future service technicians together with 25 other students in 2018. After completing two years of teaching, participants are sent to Baoli dealers across China to complete the third and final year of their training, a one-year work placement. When asked about his plans for the future, Zhou Junlei has a clear idea what he will do: Work hard, one step at a time, and constantly improve. “Isn’t this the principle of German engineering?”

The retention rate for graduates of the Baoli class is currently over 90 percent. Based on this success, Baoli is now actively working with another technical college in Jingjiang to set up a second Baoli Class. The new ultra-modern training center, which covers a total area of 2000 m2, has already been completed. Teaching is planned to start in the coming year.

A Dedicated Linde Material Handling “University for Forklift Trucks”

Linde Material Handling, another subsidiary of the KION Group, also took the concept of dual vocational training and work to China, as early as 2002. The “Linde Technik Training Center” located at the headquarters in Xiamen is one of the first of its type in the industry; all the teaching materials and methods used are very similar to those at the German headquarters in Aschaffenburg. Each year, students are given the opportunity to do a one to two-month internship, where they are assigned to various workshops, depending on their fields of study.

“It is not only our products and services that need to move with the times, but our recruitment and training models too,” says Chen Xiao, Staffing & Employee Relationship Manager at Linde Material Handling. It was for that reason that the company also launched the Pre-Junior Service Technician Training project (or PJST for short) in China in 2010. “Linde wants to act early, inform partner education institutions about our training programs, and accept interested applicants,” he says of the idea behind the project.

He refers to accepting rather than hiring as technical college students spend all of the last year of the training at Linde as part of the PJST program. Linde Material Handling has sole responsibility for everything from the content of the lessons to the teaching staff. The students, who come from various towns and cities, come together for this at the company’s regional headquarters. For many, this is the starting point for their career.

Song Zan, who is now a Customer Service Supervisor, was one of them. As one of the first graduates of the PJST program, he is now also a member of the training team. He is very proud of this project: “Linde has a comprehensive and professional teaching plan and the lecturers are experienced engineers and experts, who place a great deal of emphasis on the combination of theory and practice and expect a lot of the students.” Unofficially, the PJST training form Linde in China is referred to as the “University for Forklift Trucks” and there is also a great deal of interest now among the competition.

In July 2020, around 100 program participants from 26 education institutions were successfully integrated into the regional service teams following a training and internship period.

Investing in Young People

When the vocational training ends at the KION brands, this is also the start of continuous training: The annual professional certification is a prerequisite for every service technician to be able to practice their profession and is also a prerequisite for promotion.

“We hope that our attractive and sustainable training concept will enable us to attract and employ more qualified young people. By investing in young people, the company is investing in the future,” says the HR expert.

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