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An interview with our instructor Thomas Metz What to know about the apprenticeship for Mechatronics Engineer

Not only is Thomas Metz the Head of Internal Workshops at Coroplast Tape, he has also looked after our apprentices for the last ten years, a job he is passionate about and takes great pleasure in. He has already supported 13 apprentices in their entry into the work world. Metz has also been training mechatronics engineer at Coroplast Tape for the last two years. In our interview he discusses what’s important in this apprenticeship, what skills applicants need to bring with them and why he is personally so passionate about it.

Mr. Metz, do you tend to have more female or male apprentices in this program, and what exactly does a mechatronics technician at Coroplast Tape do?

Up until now we have only had male apprentices with us in this relatively new apprenticeship. But, of course, we would be delighted to also have some female applicants. We have actually already trained a female electrical engineer specializing in industrial engineering. But, on to the second part of your question: the apprentices learn how to maintain complex, automated machines. They see to it that the machines are working properly and that the production operations run smoothly. As plant facilities have become more and more complex in the last few years, the demand for this type of work has increased greatly, making it a great career choice for the future.

 

Thomas Metz is currently training four upcoming mechatronics engineers. His Electrical Engineering & Automation Technology team has a total of 21 employees.

That sounds like a job with a lot of responsibility. Is that true?

Absolutely. The job combines the tasks of a mechanic and an electrician. Mechatronics engineers have comprehensive mechanical repair knowledge and are allowed to work on electrics of up to 1,000 volts. This career is very challenging simply due to the fact that you have to have knowledge in two very different disciplines and that you have to stay on the top of your game in both. We train our mechatronics engineer not as specialists, but rather as all-rounders in the area of maintenance. Apprentices learn to handle, repair and exchange components as well as how to find and understand errors in the software and how to work on the electronics. The great thing about our apprenticeship is that our apprentices get to learn and work directly on our machines in the production facilities; our machinery includes over 200 individual machines, thus offering apprentices an ideal environment for hands-on learning.

What are the various stages in the apprenticeship?

Our apprentices spend their first year of apprenticeship at the BZI (Berufsbildungszentrum der Industrie – industrial vocational training center), where they receive their basic electrical training. This vocational training center in Remscheid offers excellent facilities to learn about mechanics and electrical engineering from the bottom up. I am also an examiner for the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce at the BZI, so I am in close contact with our apprentices. It’s very important to me that their apprenticeship is as practice-based as possible. This is why we offer our first-year apprentices the possibility to work in our company on a voluntary basis during the vocational school holidays. Then, in the second year of the apprenticeship, they join us in our company, bringing with the sound knowledge base they have acquired. They work directly on the machines together with our experts and thus get an up-close-and-personal impression of what the job looks like on a daily basis. The second and third years of the apprenticeship then vary in the complexity of the tasks.

We don’t see our apprentices simply as cheap labor because we are investing in our future. And we invest significantly more in them with the hope that they will choose to stay with Coroplast Tape when they have completed the apprenticeship.

Thomas Metz | Head of Internal Workshops at Coroplast Tape
With Thomas Metz, the apprenticeships are as practice-based as possible and the apprentices take on responsibilities right from the start.

The three most important tips for the apprenticeship: These are the qualities and skills you should have as an applicant in order to make it onto the shortlist.

  • An interest in and an understanding of technology are certainly very helpful. Applicants with a technical hobby, for example model building or those who enjoying working on their moped, definitely have an advantage. We also like seeing applicants who have participated in technical groups in school or completed a trial placement in a workshop.

  • For us it is important that the applicants have learned as much about the apprenticeship as possible. They should really know what they want and not simply apply to a lot of other apprenticeships without really choosing a direction. We want apprentices that really want to work in this field.

  • We are looking for intelligent young people. If they have done well in school, all the better. But, for us, grades are only one of many criteria. Social competencies are just as important – for example does an applicant have the right attitude and maturity, will they fit in well with the team, how reliable are they, etc.

     

Coroplast tape is an international company and our apprentices also have a good chance of working in one of our locations outside of Germany, if they so choose.

What makes the apprenticeship at Coroplast Tape special?

In general, skilled professionals in the area of mechatronics are in demand. Coroplast Tape can easily keep up with bigger companies because we have very modern production facilities and highly sophisticated machinery here in Wuppertal. This makes our apprenticeship for upcoming mechatronics engineer both varied and exciting. Here we have numerous highly automated machines, but also quite a few mechanical components that need to be maintained. Our apprentices have experience working on all of our machines, so, after they have finished their studies, they possess comprehensive technical knowledge and can work flexibly on a wide variety of machines. That makes them sought-after experts in many industries. However, we train our apprentices with the intent of keeping them – that’s why we offer the best prospects of being hired upon completion.

Our apprentices work with excellent technical equipment and are able to learn on the newest machines. Thus, even during the training phase, they are a step ahead when it comes to electronics.

Thomas Metz | Head of Internal Workshops at Coroplast Tape

And, lastly, a personal question: Why do you choose to work as an instructor at Coroplast Tape?

That’s easy: I simply love working with young people. I really enjoy giving motivated young people sound training and, ideally, keeping them in the company after they are finished. For me it is fascinating and exciting to get to shape and be a part of the process as young people, who often start with us when they’re 16 or 17, develop and grow into their careers. I love seeing how the support we give our apprentices leads to their success and to their happiness in their careers. The fact that this has always happened successfully brings me joy and it’s what keeps me going.

In his free time, Thomas Metz relaxes by working on his classic car – a 1973 Opel – and enjoys taking a drive while listening to music from the cassette tape deck.

Thanks for talking with us, Mr. Metz!

Your contact person Careers – high school and university students as well as graduates

Do you have questions about a high school student internship, training, or a work-study program? Then contact us!
Lina Steffen
HR Specialist Apprentices, Students & Trainees

Your contact person Careers – high school and university students as well as graduates

Do you have questions about a high school student internship, training, or a work-study program? Then contact us!
Melanie Stamm
HR Specialist Apprentices, Students & Trainees
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