Workbench instead of schoolbench

Report by the ORF:
Workbench instead of schoolbench is the motto of a new language course for apprentices. As a follow-up to school education, the apprentices are getting an English trainer right by their side in their apprenticeship workshops.
Carinthia state is implementing this education initiative together with the Carinthian International Club. The first course is taking place now in the Flex apprenticeship workshop in Althofen. Flex is a technology company with more than 200,000 employees in 30 countries. The company produces intelligent products for a networked world and offers innovative design, engineering and assembly and logistical solutions.

Language trainer part of apprentices’ education

In the apprenticeship workshop of FA Flex English is already being spoken effortlessly and almost casually. For some weeks 21 apprentices have been accompanied by language trainer Jorge. He communicates with the young people exclusively in the English language, as Mario Wilplinger explains: ”We get on with our work and the language trainer turns up now and then and asks what we’re doing and how it works. It’s not school English but we just chat a bit.” Sabrina Greiler: “We’re learning lots of technical terms for our career. Especially for long distance phone calls that we have to make, then we can use them, that helps us an awful lot.”
The manager of the education centre, Albert Klemen, said that the priority is not the grammar but the talking: “You have to overcome your inhibitions and have the courage to just speak.” There has always been an attempt to teach foreign languages to apprentices, said Klemen. But this style of teaching has never been tried before.

Perfecting English as early as possible
Flex’s Managing Director Erich Dörflinger: “Our group language is English and most of the customers speak English. So it’s very important for our apprentices to perfect their English as early as possible.” The language trainers are from the Carinthian International Club. The Managing Director Rosalia Kopeinig: “The trainers are native speakers working abroad, family members of highly qualified people who have come here. They’re highly qualified themselves.”

All apprenticeship workshops should get trainers

Half of the costs are borne by the company and half by the state of Carinthia. This year the state is making nearly €70,000 available. State governor and training representative Peter Kaiser (Social Democratic Party of Austria): “In an increasingly international world, this is a basic requirement. So we want to show that the acquisition of language during work hours is a really significant factor. The next step is to roll it out to more companies and eventually to all company and corporate apprenticeship workshops. Success there is of course a wonderful thing and in collaboration with the Carinthian International Club we can provide native speakers.” There are 40 apprentice workshops in Carinthia altogether. As many apprentices as possible should get the opportunity this year to learn English while they work. (Translation: Liz Finney)