08. September 2022

The backbone of life

Gegenbauer’s new open apprenticeship showroom

Nils Michalewski, head of the technical service centre of RGM Facility Management GmbH, takes care of highly trained specialists © RGM Facility Management
Practice makes perfect: Careful work is particularly important in electrical engineering © RGM Facility Management
First practical mission at the workshop © RGM Facility Management

“Geniuses do not drop from the sky; they must have an opportunity to develop” said August Bebel, a social democrat, more than 100 years ago. The company Gegenbauer has been training people for almost the same amount of time. Young people were given the opportunity to start an apprenticeship at the company for the first time in 1934. What started as a small craft business in Berlin has since become one of Germany’s leading facilities management companies. All over the country, 350 apprentices are being trained in 13 different trades and five university courses. They will now also do so in a modern apprenticeship showroom in Adlershof.

Almost 18,000 people work at Gegenbauer in more than 50 different professions. For more than 20 years, Gegenbauer has been offering apprenticeships in technical jobs, too. Apprentices are an important pillar of the company. “Our aim is to prepare them in the best possible way for their future careers,” says Volker Busch, managing director of RGM Facility Management GmbH at Gegenbauer. “After all, a company like ours is always looking for new recruits.”

Whether in technology, business, or infrastructure – as facilities managers, Gegenbauer’s employees oversee the maintenance and operations of all the company’s real estate. Without the “heroes in blue”, our everyday life would come to a standstill. Working in the background, they make sure that everything runs smoothly and that customers feel well in their buildings. To do so, they need training that is as practical as it is comprehensive, ranging from fundamental to expert knowledge. The newly opened apprenticeship showroom in Adlershof is now intended to further increase the quality of Gegenbauer’s training, which has already won numerous awards.

“We want highly trained apprentices. We want them to be so qualified that we want to take them over ourselves,” says Nils Michalewski, head of the technical service centre. He coordinates apprenticeships and the use of apprentices in Adlershof. At the open showroom, young people learn three professions: electronics technician, mechatronics engineer, and system mechanics for sanitary, heating, and air-conditioning technology. All this under new and excellent conditions. “We have more room, best-possible equipment, and individual areas for each profession. We did not have that before.”

Up to 25 apprentices now have the opportunity to access special expert knowledge due to the proximity to all technical departments. “Because in the practical part of a dual apprenticeship, not all relevant topics are available in full,” explains Michalewski. “Thanks to the showroom, the framework curriculum can be put into practice down to the last detail.” A clear advantage over many other companies offering dual apprenticeships.

At the showroom, apprentices are to be schooled using practical examples of varying complexity such as the wiring of control cabinets or the behaviour of different refrigerants and their specific properties on a specially manufactured test system. Errors are integrated into the training structure, the causes and sources of which the trainees then have to find and rectify. This allows practising typical everyday situations of their later jobs that can’t be practised on real-life customers. These practical exercises also give some apprentices the opportunity to complete their training earlier.

Moreover, the open showroom underscores the importance that apprenticeships have for the company. At Eisenhutweg 108 in Adlershof, at the so-called “Brain Box”, the service company occupies more than 10,000 square meters. The open workshop and showroom area for apprentices lies at the heart of the ground floor and is surrounded by lots of glass. “It’s hands-on,” says Volker Busch. “Instead of hiding it somewhere, we wanted the apprentices to be in the middle of it all. Apprentices are the lifeblood of Gegenbauer. Anyone entering the building, whether its staff or management, they all have to walk past the showroom.” Nils Michalewski adds: “With the new workshop and showroom, we are even better able to meet our demand for high quality in our staff’s training. This commitment is worthwhile. We can recruit young talent from our own people – a crucial pillar of our future as a company.”

It’s like the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: A profession is the backbone of life.

Rico Bigelmann for Adlershof Journal


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