Her visit was prompted by an an article published by the inclusivity project Wirtschaft inklusiv, which reported that pole manufacturer Europoles had provided a training place specifically for a young man with a disability. He is set to commence his training there as an industrial mechanic in September. The MP is impressed: “I find it phenomenal that you are offering young people with a disability this opportunity.” Margit Wild’s passion for this issue goes far beyond mere political interest. Not only is she on the Committee for Education and Culture but she is also a member of the inter-party Working Group for Inclusion.
“Do people know that your company offers this kind of opportunity to young men and women?” she asks, and it is a very important question. “We do have to be proactive in communicating this information,” explains Bettina Karg, Head of Training at Europoles. “So for example we go into schools, where we are represented at parents‘ evenings or other events. We try to encourage young people to have the confidence to mention an existing disability in their job applications.” Tobias Klesel, Head of Technical Training at Pfleiderer Neumarkt GmbH and consequently a partner in the Europoles/Pfleiderer Training Alliance, knows only too well how important it can be in the long term to gain insights into a company e.g. through a placement: “After all, the student has to find out whether it is something that they really want to do. It doesn’t matter who is doing a placement, whether they come from a general or upper secondary school, or have a disability or a migrant background, because we treat everyone the same.”
Recognising the signs of the times
It becomes clear in the course of the conversation that the philosophy of inclusion at the company is not just limited to young people with disabilities. “Fewer and fewer people are following the traditional training pathway, in which someone comes straight from school and then starts their training. As a company we have to keep pace with the challenges of the times,” says Bettina Karg. “This is why we provide special options like part-time training or training places for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. In this context we see ourselves not just as a company that provides training but as as a provider of individual learning support.”
Winning the competition for skilled workers
Consequently, the requirements that companies have to meet nowadays are exacting. This applies above all when competing for skilled staff, which is even more of an issue than it is elsewhere in economically strong regions like Neumarkt where there is a lot of competition. After all, workers shouldn’t just get well trained at the company; the aim is for them to stay there in the longer term. Margit Wild is aware that you have to offer employees quite a lot to get them to stay: “There is a shortage of skilled personnel everywhere, so it is all the more important for a company to take account of social aspects.”
Looking after young and old
And the challenges keep growing. “Take for example the issue of care,” says Europoles HR chief Kerstin Wurm. “In 10 to 20 years the burden of caring for family members is going to increase massively.” And we will soon be at a stage where this is something that companies will also have to deal with. We are already doing that now. One of the things we want to do is to break down taboos. When they hear “Balancing work and family life”, many people only understand things like having time with family and issues like childcare, which of course we offer as well. But hardly anyone talks about looking after other family members who need care.”
Inconspicuous and indispensable
Following the discussion, Margit Wild took the opportunity of visiting the joint Europoles/Pfleiderer training centre where the two companies train their apprentices together, and she also had a brief look at the Europoles pole display area. The parliamentarian was impressed by the Europoles product range, including overhead power poles for the energy transition and antenna masts for expanding the communications network: “There are a lot of products in the range that you see every day but don’t really notice properly. From now on I will be looking at every pole more consciously.” That could perhaps include a pole that a young person with a disability has helped to build.
Europoles GmbH & Co. KG
Ingolstädter Straße 51
Telefon: +49 (9181) 896-0
Telefax: +49 (9181) 896-1115
Telefon: +49 (9181) 896-8464
Fax: +49 (9181) 896-8075