What do pupils expect from their future careers? What does it mean for them to work independently and as part of a team? MANN+HUMMEL has been gaining an insight into precisely these questions through its youth outreach program, which has been running in conjunction with the Gottlieb-Daimler secondary school in Ludwigsburg since 2008. The scheme runs annually, with applications open to pupils in year nine (aged 14–15).

What tasks are the young people given at MANN+HUMMEL?

The youth outreach program spans six months, with the pupils visiting MANN+HUMMEL once a week between 14:00 and 16:30. During their visits they are introduced to different areas of the company by our team of mentors, who are experienced staff members, who have now retired. They take part in workshops, training sessions and field trips, focusing on topics such as presentation skills and team work, advertising and public relations, finance and accounting, and corporate environmental protection. They are also given an insight into the areas of IT, purchasing and sales.

For the last four years, each pupil has also established a fictitious company with the aim of producing a grandfather clock. This involves setting up a small clock factory complete with all the most important departments for planning, designing and constructing their clock. They are responsible for running their company and managing the whole manufacturing process, from material management through to design, production and assembly. At the end, we compare their experiences with real-life operations at MANN+HUMMEL and discuss our findings. The experience is designed to give the pupils a better understanding of the professional world.

The mentors also show the pupils how to write job applications and organize mock interviews so they can practice their answers. Each pupil compiles all the documents from the program and everything that they have learnt in a folder  which they can take home.

What are the aims of the youth outreach program for MANN+HUMMEL?

The program is designed to show pupils how a company operates, what will be expected of them as future employees, and what skills they need to develop in order to enjoy a successful career. It can also help pupils decide what career direction they want to take and what area they would like to work in, as well as being a useful recruitment tool. At 14–15 years of age, they will soon have to decide if they wish to continue with their school education or start an apprenticeship, and this program can give them some valuable food for thought. MANN+HUMMEL has managed to gain an apprentice off the back of the program almost every year.

At the end of the program, there is a farewell event where teachers and parents are invited to attend. In the run up to the event, the pupils plan how they are going to present their experiences in a creative way, be it a short film sequence, theatrical piece, role play or pin board.

How many mentors are there at MANN+HUMMEL?

Currently there are seven of us: Hans Kaiser, Dieter Breitweg, Ägidius Kleinhans and myself, plus Dieter Kappenstein, Gottfried Vorhemus and Horst Escher who all joined us this year.

Coming from an older generation, we’re always surprised at how easy it is to start discussions with the pupils and work together with them. Aged 14–15, they are right in the midst of puberty, but they have great discipline, are punctual and motivated, and tell us that they enjoy the program and can see how it will benefit them. They are incredibly curious and keen to learn, frequently ask for feedback and just want to get stuck in and get things done. The fact, that we can offer them this opportunity is extremely important for us as a company, but also for the wider community.