Gerhard Schubert, the Schubert company founder, is a perfect example of how you can pursue a successful career without a university degree.
Following an apprenticeship as a mechanic, and with high-level dedication and imagination, he laid the foundation for one of the most successful companies in the field of packaging machine engineering. Diligence, enjoying the work and striving to improve have always been the innovative medium-sized company’s key driving forces – and knowledge has always been its most important capital. It was with this in mind that Schubert developed a comprehensive training and further education programme that enables employees to successfully climb the career ladder within the company.
At the in-house Schubert Academy, employees from all areas of the company are provided with a wide selection of training and qualification opportunities. The offering ranges from language courses and management training, all the way through to supplementary professional qualifications and BA degree courses.
“If it’s not available on the market, we’ll just make it ourselves” – this guiding principle has often led to the first step on the path towards many developments at Schubert. What applies to technological innovations is also valid – figuratively speaking – for the Crailsheim company’s workforce. The packaging machine industry is a niche sector that requires special expertise. A course of studies for packaging machine builders doesn’t actually exist and external training and further qualification courses are therefore rare. “For us, it is crucial to have enough skilled, specialised workers at our disposal who are always up-to-date with their technological knowledge,” highlights Dagmar Schubert who is responsible for the Schubert Academy. The lack of available specialists is a real issue at Schubert. “If I can’t source good people from the market, we simply have to make sure that the necessary qualifications can be acquired.”
Many Schubert employees need expertise in robotics, as well as in special areas such as adhesives, packaging materials, food hygiene and pharmaceutics, to name just a few. Also, special expertise is often required to customise a machine to meet industry-specific requirements. A high level of know-how is a top priority, and it is therefore indispensable for Schubert employees to continuously evolve and advance through ongoing further education – to the benefit of Schubert’s many customers.
Schubert initiated its own Academy for this very reason. In addition to topic-specific ongoing education, further qualification possibilities are also available. Employees can take a variety of training courses with recognised degrees and certificates. Regular offerings such as the Customs Seminar, Forklift Permit courses, First-Aid Programmes for first responders, obligatory Safety Training, or even training courses and certificates which are required by the customer and monitored through regular audits, ensure that employees always have up-to-date knowledge. Sometimes training session topics are sourced from everyday operations and then provided as needed. These include seminars on topics such as “From worker to manager”, “Dealing with customers”, “Telephone training” or “Hygienic design in packaging machine construction”. In addition to these basic programmes, Schubert also collaborates with colleges and professional academies, which enable committed employees to pursue further qualification, while being supported by Schubert as employer.
The Schubert philosophy also stipulates that every employee, regardless of their function within the company, is encouraged to go further. “Basically, the sky is the limit. For example, you can join us as a fitter or a technician and, with a little hard work and diligence, you can eventually complete a college or university degree,” explains Dagmar Schubert. To this end, the Gerhard Schubert GmbH offers BA degree programmes in industrial engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering in collaboration with different universities.
During their BA studies, employees spend time going through different programmes either at the university or the company itself. Theoretical training is linked to practical in-company training so that the student experiences theory and practice equally and right from the beginning. Stephan Lichtenfeld, formerly a mechanic in the assembly group, took advantage of this opportunity and began his studies in “Engineering in Electrotechnical Systems” at the Steinbeis University in Berlin in autumn 2010. He was granted admission to the programme without A-levels (Hochschulreife), since his technical training and professional experience at the Gerhard Schubert GmbH were recognised. Since 2014, he has been working as an electrical engineer in Schubert’s electrical engineering department.
Another successful example is Jörg Scharf, who successfully completed his mechanical engineering studies at the University of Applied Sciences in Mosbach. Through his investigations of the Transmodul’s navigation of curves in the context of his diploma thesis, he moved on to become a Transmodul unit specialist. “Jörg Scharf had already worked as a technician in the construction area and he stood out very positively with his achievements. There was a colleague in his department who was about to retire, and we were able to convince Jörg to pursue his studies and to then fill the vacancy,” recalls Dagmar Schubert.
In addition to the many different courses of study, employees can also take on various IHK (Chamber of industry and Commerce) degrees. Since 2011, the work-based “Certified Technical Specialist (IHK)” course has been held at Schubert’s premises in collaboration with the DAA Deutsche Angestellten-Akademie Ostwürttemberg. In addition to Schubert employees, other companies from the surrounding area can also take part in this course. The qualifications with the greatest added value for both the employees and the company are the “Technical Specialist” and the “Business Management Administrator” programmes. The courses enable assembly staff to expand their technological know-how and their expertise in administrative tasks. In turn, employees from administration can gain technological expertise in the context of business studies. The Academy can therefore successfully bridge the gap between these two areas, providing employees with recognised degrees and qualifications.
“We support our employees with both time and financial backing. We advise them on available opportunities for continuing education, we gather information on the desired offerings from those responsible, and we organise participation in external seminars as well as in specific in-house Schubert seminars,” explains Dagmar Schubert. “The objective of the Schubert Academy is to provide a comprehensive selection of training opportunities in the field of packaging machine engineering, which can accompany and drive employees forward along their individual career paths, while meeting our own operational interests,” summarises Dagmar Schubert.
Schubert advances and promotes its employees to a very significant extent, which not only makes Schubert an attractive employer, it also greatly contributes to employee satisfaction. The voluntary advanced training opportunities are intrinsic to an overall corporate concept that clearly promotes enjoyment at work – one of the most important requisites for supporting creativity and developing innovative technologies. Statistics clearly show that this concept is widely shared by the workforce: on average, 1,200 internal and external participants take part in the courses offered by the Academy every year. Ongoing employee qualification and advancement is also in the best interest of corporate development – and the secret behind the exceptional innovative strength of the mechanical engineering company from Crailsheim.