Industrial Park attaches importance to youth development
The Baerlocher GmbH facing the challenge of looming shortage of skilled workers
Fabian Molitor did it: The 22-year-old graduated from the University of Cooperative Education Emsland in Lingen and the Baerlocher GmbH with a dual degree in process engineering. He is glad to have arrived at Baerlocher: "I’ve never regretted the decision for the dual degree. Right from the beginning, I’ve belonged to the team and was involved in interesting projects."
There were many applicants for Molitors position. The Baerlocher GmbH receives a large number of applications for apprenticeships every year. 2012 there were a total of 180 applicants, explains Jan Lambers-Heerspink which is HR manager at the site in Lingen for five years. Therefore, the company can afford to select only the best. This is important to Baerlocher because it is about a long relationship: "Our goal is to take over each trainee," says Lambers-Heerspink. The company wants to fill any vacant position with their own trainees. An ambitious goal that can only be achieved with motivated students who identify with the company and perform well. The chemical company Baerlocher produces in Lingen since 1978. The company is a leading global supplier of additives for the plastics processing industry. With these auxiliary materials, plastic products get their special characteristics: Some additives make a plastic heat-resistant, others have influence on durability and color fastness. Baerlocher is providing in particular additive systems for the PVC industry, for example for the production of pipes, window profiles, packaging films, floor coverings or electric cables. The Lingen plant is one of the most modern production sites within the group. Again and again, the plant was expanded, and in 1990 even a second plant was opened at the premises in Lingen. Today 250 of the worldwide 1.200 employees work at the Lingen site.
The trainees receive an intensive support in the company. They experience various departments and always have a personal contact person. Also in the vocational schools, the trainees are welcome, as they complete their training with above-average grades. "80 percent of our former trainees are still working in the company. Good students are also usually good employees," Lambers-Heerspink explains proudly.
But the requirements continue to rise, so Baerlocher find new approaches for the promotion of young talents: Fabian Molitor is the first student on the site who is passing the three-year training. In every semester the 22-year old is doing a three-month practice phases at Baerlocher.
Currently he is testing a process which is to be applied in an American factory of the group. Fabian Molitor is pleased: "I am working independently and my colleagues are ready to help, in case I need them." Often, procedures are being tested and improved in Lingen plant. The solutions are adopted in other plants around the world. Student Molitor hopes to be able to go on "real production" with his project.
After the abolition of diploma courses as part of the so-called "Bologna reforms", also the responsible persons at Baerlocher were facing the question of what the new bachelor and master degrees are worth. "By collaborating with the University of Cooperative Education, we have insight into the curriculum and are able to assess the conveyed qualifications even better," explains Stefan Koch, who has been working at Baerlocher for ten years now and has a diploma degree. Today, he works closely with his colleagues from the University of Cooperative Education Emsland.
Olga Olfert is also completing an internship at Baerlocher. The master student is already in the final semester. She studied chemical engineering at the University of Applied Science Münster. "Baerlocher is known internationally and a big name in the industry. Of course you are applying as a student of Münster.Therefore I also accept the long way from Münster to Lingen and back, "explains the 26-year-old. While working at Baerlocher, she is writing her master's thesis. There are always students of the region who ask for internships or thesis supervision at Baerlocher.
Nine degree theses have emerged in recent years at Baerlocher. Site manager Knut Chmil is optimistic about the future: "Yes, a shortage of skilled workers is becoming visible, but it does not concern us. We get enough applications, but we have to be faster than in the past and retain young people to us. "This summer, Philipp Barenkamp is the second at Baerlocher, who starts a dual degree. He just finnished the apprenticeship at the company. After the end of his training the young man thought about leaving Lingen and Baerlocher to study at a university or technical college. By offering him a dual degree Baerlocher was able to keep him in the company. Knut Chmil: "The former apprentice becomes a leader of tomorrow – and valuable knowledge remains with us in the company."