Roman Krüger works for company history experts D.I.E Firmenhistoriker. To mark the occasion of the 75th anniversary, the company has been researching MANN+HUMMEL’s fascinating history, which includes putting together the ‘75 years of pure innovation’ anniversary book. In this fourth part of his column, Roman Krüger reveals the history of apprenticeships.
It has to be said, despite having worked on several projects as a company historian, some of the things I have uncovered about MANN+HUMMEL during my research have left me speechless. This includes, for example, finding out that apprenticeships at MANN+HUMMEL will be celebrating their own 75th anniversary next year. The filter manufacturer first began preparing young people for their working futures in 1942, just one year after the company was founded and in the midst of World War II.
Equally astounding is that we discovered a treasure trove of photos in the MANN+HUMMEL archives depicting apprentices going about their work – there are very few companies where apprenticeships have been so well documented. This find alone is testament to just how highly MANN+HUMMEL valued them from the very beginning. The fundamental principle that the next generation should be encouraged and supported to achieve great heights in the future is one that MANN+HUMMEL has stayed true to over the past 75 years – albeit in constantly changing conditions.
The post-war era: on the hunt for apprentices
After the war, finding apprentices became difficult for the first time. This is why by the 1960s MANN+HUMMEL had decided to focus on in-house apprenticeships, training temporary workers up to become expert staff with incredible careers ahead of them. Back then, apprentices were seen very much to be still in education, sat behind a school desk in a suit and tie.
In order to increase the professionalism of apprenticeships and to bring together all of the various courses of study, the filter manufacturer established a training centre in the former textile mill in 1973, which was later moved to Plant 2 in 1996. The state of the apprenticeship market underwent a change in the 1970s: For the first time, MANN+HUMMEL had more applicants than positions, issuing admission tests in order to assess the abilities of those interested fairly.
Today, there are still at least two applicants for every apprenticeship place, despite MANN+HUMMEL’s development into a large company meaning that the career paths available have become greater in number and more diverse. New apprenticeship opportunities and dual degree programmes – including foreign language and study abroad options – have opened up as a result of internationalisation. All this means that the future of this successful filter manufacturer is looking very bright indeed.
A historic corporate culture of development
But there is yet another thing that makes the company so attractive to young people: Although it is no longer 300, but rather some 20,000 people who work at MANN+HUMMEL, the atmosphere is still that of a family, with a genuine sense of team spirit. This is something that I have been able to experience at first hand during my visits.
This corporate culture that sees apprentices develop successfully and go on to achieve great results and win prizes also has a historical dimension. It hails back to the spirit and social commitment of Adolf Mann and Dr Erich Hummel, which has grown over the years to become an intrinsic part of the company. That is not too uncommon a sight for a company historian, but it still fascinates me to this day that a company’s history does not only consist of the results achieved in the past or technical developments. Discovering our roots helps us to better understand our present – and to shape the future so it is how we want it to be.