Success stories – apprenticeships at the Hilger & Kern Group

The Mannheim-based Hilger & Kern Group is a prime example of how good apprenticeships can lead to successful careers in the same company

Well-organised vocational training is one of the reasons for Germany’s economic success. In this respect, traditional companies such as the Hilger & Kern Group from Mannheim, founded in 1927, play an important role. The Hilger & Kern Group – with its three brands DOPAG, Meter Mix and Hilger u. Kern Industrietechnik – is a leading global provider of high-precision metering and mixing technology and is one of the top suppliers in Germany in the field of industrial technology. The group employs around 350 people and has subsidiaries and distributors in more than 40 countries.

In addition to its headquarters in Mannheim, there are four subsidiaries, each with their own production facilities; these are located in India, France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. The group moreover has seven pure sales offices in Italy, the Czech Republic, Sweden, USA, Mexico, South Korea and China. All functional departments are represented at the Mannheim location: Development and Design, Production, Sales, Corporate Marketing, Purchasing, Accounting and Human Resources. As a result, apprentices receive comprehensive training in all company areas.

Wide range of apprenticeships at the Hilger & Kern Group with good chances of being taken on permanently afterwards

As a traditional family-run company, the Hilger & Kern Group can look back on many successful apprenticeships and careers. The range on offer is diverse. Several apprenticeships are offered to train wholesale and foreign trade management clerks, mechatronics engineers and warehouse logistics specialists – there is something for almost everyone at the Hilger & Kern Group.

While the apprenticeship to become a wholesale and foreign trade management clerk, as the name suggests, is purely a commercial profession, the apprenticeship in mechatronics consists of a combination of content in mechanics, electronics and computer science. Here, apprentices have less contact with commercial activities. The training to become a warehouse logistics specialist takes three years and is much more than the name suggests at first glance. In addition to commercial aspects, a warehouse logistics specialist also takes care of many commercial matters such as preparing shipping documents, maintaining and operating the ERP system, correspondence with freight forwarders (also internationally) and much more. The range of apprenticeships on offer at the Hilger & Kern Group is just as varied as the product portfolio for high-quality components and systems for metering and mixing technology as well as industrial technology.

Success stories – apprenticeships at the Hilger & Kern Group

‘Traditionally, most apprentices at the Mannheim Hilger & Kern Group receive permanent positions after completing their training successfully,’ says Hendrik Walker, Human Resources Manager at Hilger & Kern – and the following success stories illustrate this only too well.

From apprentice to salesforce specialis

For example, Kai, who, after completing his apprenticeship in the marketing team, is now entirely responsible for e-commerce projects and is primarily in charge of managing the global sales tool Salesforce. In addition, he also takes on other traditional marketing tasks on a project-related basis, such as the creation of brochures. Alongside his job, Kai is pursuing part-time studies for his bachelor’s degree in business administration in order to acquire additional qualifications for his future career. The company financially supports Kai’s studies and is generally open to providing advice and support to ambitious employees who are eager to learn.

What Kai particularly liked about his apprenticeship was the fact that the company is not only a purely commercial enterprise, but also an industrial company with its own production. As a result, Kai says, ‘you’re simply much closer to the products and inevitably acquire significant technical knowledge’. This helped him to better understand how the products work. Kai also reports: ‘During the apprenticeship, you never had the feeling of being “just” an apprentice. Instead, you were directly involved in day-to-day business by taking on your own small projects, for instance.

After the apprenticeship – all machines under control

Another example is Julia, who went on to specialise in export and customs issues after completing her apprenticeship. Every machine that is manufactured at and exported from a production site of the Hilger & Kern Group worldwide must pass through her books. In addition to having good foreign language skills, it’s the small subtleties that contribute to successfully completing a project in this area. It helps to know the cultural peculiarities of the countries involved and to let the time difference work for you. In the meantime, Julia has also started part-time studies and will soon complete her bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Julia sums up: ‘The apprenticeship at Hilger & Kern is great – you’re challenged and encouraged. Each employee shares personal knowledge from their professional life. You gain in-depth insights into a globally active industrial company and understand complex interrelationships through practical references to work.’ She adds that ‘a degree alone cannot provide such insights, and this is what makes the apprenticeship at the Hilger & Kern Group so excellent’.

E-commerce is his new hom

At the beginning of his apprenticeship, Thomas couldn’t imagine that he would be crazy about dates and numbers in addition to his football game, which he plays almost professionally. He has found his passion in commerce. Thomas is setting up the web shop for the Hilger & Kern Industrial Technology business unit, as it is difficult to sell products these days without an online shop. To this end, he has diligently familiarised himself with Shopware – the modular online shop system – in order to be able to set up the shop and feed it with products. Lots of data are the basic prerequisite for this. Excel, his second favourite program, and connected databases help him to manage the flood of data. Thomas was the heart and soul of the web shop right from the start and is responsible for its further expansion.

From temp to apprentice

Aaron is currently still in the first year of his apprenticeship as a wholesale and foreign trade management clerk. He had previously worked as a temporary employee in the warehouse, where he was able to gain initial insights into day-to-day business and get to know his future colleagues. His tasks included pulling wires, cutting belts, packing goods and helping with shipping. At the beginning of his apprenticeship, he was slowly introduced to the company’s processes and working methods, learning how to work with the various programs step by step.

In principle, apprentices are gradually becoming more and more integrated into day-to-day business, such as preparing quotes independently or entering customer orders in the system. As Aaron reports, ‘we apprentices are now firmly integrated into the day-to-day business and are able to carry out all of our assigned tasks as independently as possible’. In the future, it is planned that Aaron will go through departments such as Warehousing, Human Resources and Financial Accounting to gain even better insight into the company. His experience at Hilger & Kern has been very positive, and he would like to emphasise ‘the very friendly way of treating apprentices and the pleasant working atmosphere in general’. After the first year of his apprenticeship, Aaron is convinced that he ‘has been able to receive excellent training so far and that things will continue positively in the same vein’.

Hilger & Kern Group – enabling an apprenticeship and a further career in the same company

The Hilger & Kern Group not only stands for apprenticeships, but also for further training and a good professional career. There are many employees who have remained loyal to the company since their apprenticeship and who now support management positions and play a major role in the further development of the company. Hilger & Kern also supports employees who want to develop further and receive further professional training – regardless of whether they have already completed an in-house apprenticeship or only joined the company later in their career.

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