In March we celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of vocational training at the Mannheim plant. Almost 11,000 young people have started their training here during the last century. To mark this event, we decided to talk to the people who received training at the venerable Mannheim plant in 2016. We started with Mayu Moorthy (25) and Vedat Sogukecesme (23), who we met up with in the training workshop in order to find out about them and their training. They are both in their second year of training as manufacturing mechanics with a focus on welding and metalworking. They greeted us with a warm welcome and led us to the meeting room next door for our conversation.
Mayu tells us that he is from Stuttgart and moved to Mannheim Luzenberg, very close to the plant, for his training. EvoBus helped him to find accommodation, but he found his current apartment himself. He still spends a lot of his weekends in Stuttgart or on excursions to different parts of Germany with his friends. He particularly likes the change of scenery and regularly getting to know new people.
Vedat, who lives with his family in Bensheim, prefers his weekends to be a bit quieter. Instead of going out partying, he relaxes with his friends in a shisha cafe, watches the football or works out at the gym. He usually plays football on Sundays, and wants to keep fit.
A typical working day for the two begins at between 6:00 and 6:30 in the morning. "The main thing you look forward to on the way to work is meeting your co-workers," Mayu says. He is currently assigned to the training workshop with five other trainees in his year, and receives orders from technical instructors. The work carried out in the workshop includes producing high-quality sheet-metal components using a precision laser machine and press brake. The welding techniques used for buses are also practiced here. Skillful handiwork is particularly important when it comes to the production of buses because it is often necessary to incorporate customers' specific preferences.
"I'm directly involved in the bus division," Vedat says. He is currently working in the bodyshop where metal is active-gas welded (MAG), soldering is carried out and press-weld nuts are joined with sheet metal parts at the resistance spot welding machine. The work is very interesting and he finds it enjoyable. Before starting his training he studied tax law. "I also tinkered with bicycles in my spare time, which I enjoyed a lot. Then I thought to myself: why don't I try working with my hands? Then I applied here." Mayu, on the other hand, knew early on that he wanted to do something technical: "At my vocational school I already did a lot in this area."
When asked what they are not so fond of doing, they both agree that while they find enjoyment in everything they do here, welding can be hard work with certain materials. "I definitely want to get better at welding," Mayu says. Vedat agrees: "Sometimes we still just lack experience. You simply have to practice by yourself until you can do it."
What kind of personal characteristics are needed for the training? Reliability and punctuality are the main ones! Respect and trust are also very important to Vedat. "If you've agreed on something you have to be able to trust your co-workers." You also have to have the right chemistry in the team. "Then the work will also get done," Mayu says.
Mayu goes to the gym on the plant's premises almost every day after work. Then he will sometimes meet up with co-workers or relax at home in front of the television. Vedat picks up his mother from work on his way home and usually spends the rest of the evening at football training or the gym. "I could never live without sport," Mayu tells us. Vedat agrees: "I would also find it very difficult to live without football. But what I could never live without is my family." They are both proud of the fact that they are on the straight and narrow, rather than going off the rails as others have done. "You don't have to rescue someone from a burning house to be proud of yourself. All you have to do is be a decent person. I decide for myself what's right and what's wrong. I know that what I do is right," Vedat tells us.
We ask them what they would do with a big lottery win. Vedat would want to avoid frittering the money away in a short space of time at all costs, and would instead get good advice and invest the money. Mayu would set up his own business, invest and build a house for his parents. Another of Mayu's dreams is to experience the adrenalin rush of skydiving. Vedat just shakes his head – not his cup of tea. He dreams of starting a big family. That is why he wants to continue training to become a technician or specialist trainer once his current training is over in order to improve his earning potential. In the medium term, both men want to own their own apartment or flat in which to start a family. An expensive car is of secondary importance, and could perhaps be bought further down the line at some point.
For the time being, they are planning to bring the completion of their training forward by six months in order to enter their professions sooner. They would then be almost certain to be hired. They tell us that it should be no problem at all from an academic perspective. They are currently waiting for approval from their forepersons. "We are trying to keep our absences to a minimum," Mayu says. Vedat agrees: "I didn't take a single day off sick last year."
"If anyone asks, I only ever have positive things to say about my work. It is really enjoyable, and I can only recommend this training to anyone interested in a technical vocation," is how Mayu summarizes his experiences of his training. "We have it good here, especially compared to others. We earn well, have good working hours, and work clothes and materials are always available," Vedat adds.
When we say goodbye to the two men we are joined by Mr. Linert, the foreman in charge of their training. He jokes around with the trainees before telling us that he tries very hard to find trainees a place at the company once they have completed their training. "It usually works out," he says. Mayu and Vedat have previously told us that Mr. Linert himself learned his trade here at the plant. It is clear that he is truly fond of the trainees. The long tradition of vocational training is bearing fruit here at the plant.
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Text and photos: Nele Spandick, Jens Arnold and Julian Kunschke