At the end of last year, there was a particular highlight for us to celebrate in Speyer. This MANN+HUMMEL plant has been training young people for 50 years. I had the opportunity to attend the celebrations and talk to some of the people who were and are involved in the apprenticeship program. I would now like to share my impressions of the day with you.

A brief review – how did MANN+HUMMEL Speyer become a workplace for apprenticeship?

Our plant in Speyer was established in 1952 as a 100% subsidiary of MANN+HUMMEL under the trading name of FILAP.

The working environment in post-war Germany was characterised by a severe shortage of skilled labour. What is more, MANN+HUMMEL (or rather, FILAP) was not a well-known name in Speyer, which led to additional problems in recruiting employees.  For Gerd Kappus, who joined FILAP in 1962 and was technical manager at that time, the solution was clear: we had to start training our own specialists. It was no sooner said than done: because we had a lot of orders for our products at the time, the first year of the apprenticeship program started at FILAP in Speyer in 1964. Four young men started their apprenticeship to become toolmakers.

 Life-time loyalty to MANN+HUMMEL

One of these four was Theo Fahrnbach. Just 14 years old at that time, he has spent his entire professional career at MANN+HUMMEL and only recently commenced his well-earned retirement – after almost fifty years’ service with the company. He fondly recalls his days as an apprentice. When asked about the typical ‘pranks’ carried out by apprentices, he said he could no longer remember after 50 years, declaring with absolute conviction that ‘apprentices were very well-behaved in the early 1960s, and had respect for their superiors’. Pranks? There was nothing like that going on in those days – then adding, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, that tales from the past are best kept to yourself 🙂

Something that really surprised me was the amount of training allowance paid to the first apprentices: ‘We earned 57 German Marks in those days’, Theo Fahrnbach told me. ‘That was a lot of money for us’. Can you imagine that today?

Training at MANN+HUMMEL Speyer – a sign of Quality

From the beginning, the quality of training was very high. ‘I had a very good education myself, which of course resulted in high expectations. We wanted to provide an outstanding apprenticeship to the young people here’, said Gerd Kappus.

The quality of the training certainly seems to have succeeded. As Manfred Wolf, President and General Manager, Automotive and Industrial Business Units at MANN+HUMMEL announced in his speech, the view from the examining board was ‘if they are from MANN+HUMMEL, you don’t have to re-check’.

The first training manager Gerhard Carl proudly stated just how ‘cool’ the training at MANN+HUMMEL has been: the teachers at the technical college had to be instructed on the use of the new CNC machine by our apprentices.

And the quality of our apprenticeship program is still evident:
many of our current executives – including Markus Scheerle,
plant manager at MANN+HUMMEL Speyer – started their career with an apprenticeship at MANN+HUMMEL.

Everyone a winner

To be able to train our own specialists, to impart to them all the knowledge we have acquired over the years and ‘nurture’ them in this way to safeguard the future of the business – this is the aim of successful training.

Training does however involve great responsibility. ‘An apprenticeship forms the basis of a successful career. Good training ensures that many doors remain open to you’, explained Markus Scheerle, plant manager at MANN+HUMMEL Speyer.

The economy also benefits from the dual education system: ‘In my view, much of the success in the German economy can be attributed to high quality education 

‘Trainers also benefit from contact with young people’, said Manfred Wolf – and previous trainer Gerd Gödelmann nodded in agreement. ‘Many people of my generation would otherwise not be familiar with terms such as ‘chill’ or ‘hang out’’.


Following the speeches, Markus Scheerle paid tribute to those who had contributed to the success of the apprenticeship program at MANN+HUMMEL:



Gerd Kappus, a plant manager who knew every employee by name and established training at MANN+HUMMEL in Speyer (formerly FILAP).




Gerhard Carl, the first training manager at FILAP.

Theo Fahrnbach, apprentice from the first year with a lifetime of service at MANN+HUMMEL.

Gerd Gödelmann, training manager until the end of 2014, who stood up for his ‘lads’ with heart and soul.

Thomas Staiger, the new training manager, who is continuing the tradition of promoting – and challenging – the apprentices at Speyer with all possible means.

After the acknowledgements and as a memento of this wonderful event, current apprentices distributed coins, minted in-house, displaying the Speyer Cathedral to all the guests.

MANN+HUMMEL – one big family

‘We at MANN+HUMMEL are like one big family’, said Gerd Gödelmann. ‘You can, if you like, view the training manager as the ‘father figure’ in the company. We are the first contacts not only for business-related topics but also for many personal problems, because we always offer a sympathetic ear to our apprentices. And this two-way process is important: we invest everything in training junior staff – and in return, we expect 100% from them’.

And so may this continue for the next 50 years!

Finally, we can only agree with what Markus Scheerle said at the end of his speech: ‘All of us can be proud of what we have achieved here’. Or – to quote Manfred Wolf again – ‘It works for us!’ 🙂