Planting the "Seed"

Last week I shared my observations during a facility tour of mold component supplier Hasco at the K show. One highlight was its Learning Center SEED apprenticeship program, so I wanted to dig a little deeper with the instructor and three apprentices to share how the program works.


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Last week I shared my observations during a facility tour of mold component supplier Hasco at the K show. One highlight was its Learning Center SEED apprenticeship program, so I wanted to dig a little deeper with instructor Mr. Andreas Wünsch and three apprentices, Alina Stahlschmidt,  Lukas Frasch and Robin Klinker to share how the program works. 

MMT: Tell me a little about the history of SEED.

MR. ANDREAS WUNSCH: Apprenticeships at Hasco have a long tradition. In over 45 years, we trained more than 400 young people, many of which have stayed at Hasco to further their careers. Twenty-five percent of the current Hasco staff in Germany had training at Hasco. including our executive vice presidents, Mr. Paulmann and Mr. Brandt. Then in 2011 we launched our People Development Program, which includes many different ways to train our employees including SEED in 2013.


MMT: Explain the SEED philosophy.

WUNSCH: The name SEED was inspired by the biological process of growth and photosynthesis. We will give our best input and environment to grow, but the process itself must be one’s own responsibility. The name says  everything we want to achieve. SEED translates to S = selbstständig= self-contained, E= eigenverantwortlich = responsible, E= ergebnisorintierte  = results-oriented; D=Denker =Thinker.

We have a training center with modern machinery for the technical training sessions. This center is used for basic apprentice education and employee training as well as new employee onboarding. We offer two- or three-year apprenticeships that include time in the various "training areas", such as production and R&D or marketing and human resources. During this time apprentices are part of a functional team and support the department by taking over real tasks and projects lead by a mentor in the department. All mentors were trained for the role. After completing each training area, a structured feedback session is planned between the apprentice and mentor, which allows both parties to assess performance and help determine the apprentice's career pathway. We also have a session for our internal senior specialist to train apprentices on commercial knowledge, steel facts, market data and customer information.

We promote collaboration between customers and apprentices to enable real business experiences during projects. For example, one apprentices worked with one of our customers, “Pöppelmann” in building a mold. The project group started with the design of the plastic part and presented the final product a year later to the trainer and management of Hasco and the customer.


MMT: How is SEED different from other apprenticeship programs in Germany, in Europe, in the U.S.?

WUNSCH: There is a standard approach in Europe for training young people, but each country has its own approach, so it not so easy to compare.  In Germany, we have a good dual-apprenticeship, which means classroom time and working in industry, but with SEED we go one step farther including the training areas, training sessions, projects and feedback sessions. 


MMT:  What is the key to a successful apprenticeship program?

WUNSCH: The support of the CEO and management, and qualified, ambitious mentors and trainers. Also, good collaboration with schools and a solid recruitment process to find the right young people.

MMT:  How do you measure success?

WUNSCH: By the demand of our internal customers within the different Hasco departments. Meaning, do they prefer to recruit an apprentice or hire an external candidate.  We also check grades and feedback forms. To date, we have an 83-percent success rate. Forty-five years of apprentices at HASCO and, today over 800 people work at Hasco globally. Twenty-five percent of the 380 people working at heardquarters in Germany is from our apprenticeship program.


MMT: What are the future plans for SEED?

WUNSCH: We want to implement a “training area” at a moldmaker or molder customer and offer to train their apprentices at our facility.  We have some potential partners who like the idea of exchanging experiences and points of view. We are also hoping to implement this globally.


The Apprentice View

MMT: Where did your interest in manufacturing/moldmaking come from?
I was sure that I want to do something with my hands. I like to see what I have done at the end of each day. This was strengthened by the internship at Hasco, which has a good reputation in the area. 
MMT: What are the top three things you’ve learned through the SEED program?
Produce high precision and quality work, be responsible and have discipline in work and with colleagues and friends.
MMT: What aspects of manufacturing/moldmaking interest you the most since attending the SEED program?
Robin Klinker: Machining mold cavities. 
Lukas Frasch: Additive manufacturing and prototyping.
Alina Stahlschmidt: Learning about the different processes from raw material to the finished mold.
MMT: Has SEED changed your perception of manufacturing/moldmaking?
Yes. We didn’t know how much it takes to produce a mold to make plastic parts or how difficult it is to maintain precision when machining steel. Now we know why the apprenticeship program needs to be 3.5 years.