Outstanding performances despite pandemic

19. Feb 2021

Trainees and students of Paul Köster GmbH stood out during Corona - newly qualified precision machinist Aaron Mause offers insights

Medebach, Germany. Training, studying and Corona – a challenging combination. In the social debate focussing on the challenges of homeschooling and home office and the consequences of digital teaching that both school students and parents face everyday, trainees and dual-track students are sometimes forgotten. The pandemic, however, does not stop at teaching and education and in some cases disrupts the normal course of events considerably. This makes it all the more important to have innovative and crisis-proof concepts for training the next generation of highly qualified employees. Paul Köster GmbH in Medebach, Germany, has these concepts in place, and following the examination results of the trainees and dual-track students it is easy to see that even in these trying times they have been successful. The internationally active mechanical engineering company is delighted with the outstanding results achieved by its trainees Aaron Mause (precision machinist, specializing in mechanical engineering), Florian Dollberg (precision machinist, specializing in mechanical engineering), Jannis Dornhöfer (industrial engineering electrical technician), Marc Kischinski (cutting machine operator), and Micha Schmidt (systems integration IT specialist), as well as by students Jens Peters and Henri Mütze (combined vocational training and degree in mechanical engineering).

After placing 2nd at the guild level, Florian Dollberg will now face new competition

Florian Dollberg took 2nd place at the guild level with his degree and will now take part in a higher-level competition for young German craftspersons. The achievements of Henri Mütze and Jens Peters are also outstanding. Both completed their combined vocational training and degree with an outstanding A grade and will now soon begin their 3-semester dual-track master's program while working. “We are, of course, keeping our fingers crossed for Florian in the competition as well as for our students in their part-time master's studies. Florian’s success, as well as that of the other excellent graduates, demonstrate the exemplary commitment of our trainees and students. In times when companies as well as trainees and students must be flexible and must adapt to ever-changing situations, we are very proud of our graduates,” said Hildegard Köster, Head of HR.

For precision machinist and fresh graduate Aaron Mause, the apprenticeship was indeed a special time. He began his apprenticeship before Corona, and the last months before the exam in particular were a challenge that he accepted and mastered. “Following the shutting down of the vocational school in the Corona pandemic, we didn't know if the previously set exam dates could even be met. However, the question always lingered: What happens if I get sick? Do I have to add another six months to my apprenticeship?” asked the 21-year-old. Such questions can, and do, burden trainees, especially those preparing intensely for their exams. But Paul Köster GmbH was there to help. “We would usually go to the company whenever class was cancelled. We were allowed to spend those days we would normally be at school at home to prepare for our exams. We were also given two months of hands-on exam preparation in machining.” This time was hugely important, he said, because turning and milling, which are key to the exam, could be practiced intensely. The decisive factor in the last months of the apprenticeship during Corona was self-management and initiative. “There’s a big difference between sitting in school studying or sitting comfortably at home. It was also great that our instructors were always approachable and supported us.” It helps a lot to know that the employer is doing everything they can to provide the best possible apprenticeship, even during Corona.

Uncertainties weigh on exam preparations, employer lends security

The uncertainty about whether and when exams would actually take place was finally cleared up in recent weeks. The fixed dates remained fixed, and the trainees, with their masks on and properly distanced, were allowed to demonstrate their acquired knowledge and skills. “Fortunately, no one contracted Corona during that time either. This would actually have meant that the training would have been extended by six months,” said Aaron Mause, who completed a one-year internship at the Medebach-based mechanical engineering company as part of his vocational diploma before deciding to do his apprenticeship at Paul Köster GmbH. Looking back, he believes that the current first- and second-year trainees have been far more affected by the Corona crisis than he has. “In the first two years of an apprenticeship, an enormous amount of theoretical knowledge is taught at the vocational school. Due to school closures, it has therefore not been so easy to shoulder this workload. We had it a little easier overall.”

Aaron Mause is nonetheless highly satisfied with his apprenticeship and graduation. “If I had to do it all over again, I would gladly do my apprenticeship at Köster. Ideally, you will work directly in production for the customer from day one. There is no training workshop where you do menial tasks.” Now Aaron Mause would like to gain some work experience as a precision machinist at his former training company. He is aiming to continue his training in order to develop himself professionally. And he and his employer hope that this will happen as soon as possible and without the Corona restrictions.

>Paul Köster GmbH is a traditional, Medebach-based, family-owned business in the Sauerland region with a company history going back more than 100 years
>Annual sales in 2019 were around 46 million euros, with project volumes ranging from 1,000 to 5 million euros
>Production areas: In Germany about 15,000 square meters, and in China about 2,000 square meters
>The company is certified according to ISO 9001:2015 and VDA 6.4:2017
>The company’s expertise and passion is special mechanical engineering
>Core competencies are leak testing, assembly technology and automation
>Paul Köster GmbH has about 390 employees worldwide
>The company offers excellent career opportunities for professionals, as well as internships and apprenticeships for school graduates and students in the process of choosing a career
>Combined vocational training and degree courses in mechanical engineering and electrical engineering are also offered in cooperation with the Meschede University of Applied Sciences and the Mittelhessen Technical University in Frankenberg
Aaron reports on his experiences