Angela Constance MSP and Minister for Youth Employment visited Festo HQ for an insight into vocational education and training policy in other European countries. At the invitation of the Ministry of Culture of Baden-Württemberg, Angela Constance MSP and her delegation were welcomed to Festo Headquarters in Germany by Dr. Theodor Niehaus, Managing Director of Festo Didactic.
The visit on 4th September aimed to help the delegation gain a better understanding of how the vocational education and training systems in Switzerland and Germany fit within the wider education and economic development strategy. The itinerary included a combination of presentations from the German Ministry of Education, information from manufacturers that are active in school-based training programmes, manufacturer site visits, a visit to the local chamber of commerce and engaging with students undergoing vocational education training.
As a worldwide manufacturer producing pneumatic and electric automation equipment, Festo operates in 176 countries and has a high demand for skilled engineers. It is a provider of technical education equipment and training to industry and is an active participant worldwide in attracting young people into engineering and science. In the UK, 10% of employees are STEM Ambassadors, working with local schools, colleges and universities to provide opportunities to learn more about engineering. The company also provides opportunities for apprentices to learn new business, design and technology skills in the workplace.
Stefan Dietl, head of training at Festo, presented information to the delegation about the educational opportunities available for students at Festo as well as providing information about its training centres in Esslingen-Berkheim. Training is available across eight technical occupations - including electronics, mechatronics and CNC machine operation - as well as in three commercial professions.
Angela Constance MSP commented on the visit: “Switzerland and Germany are well respected for their engineering and manufacturing industry and this visit was an excellent opportunity to see how they go about recruiting skilled young people. I want to see Scotland among the very best in Europe in supporting young people into work and have taken a range of actions to ensure our 16 to 24 years olds are able to take full advantage of options open to them.
“Examining how other countries deal with the issue is a key part of my work and it was interesting to see how stakeholders were collaborating to make engineering an attractive career choice with the right opportunities to learn the key skills required.”