Audi and BMW Graduate a New Generation of ApprenticesBy Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 09/03/2020 - 06:00
Audi and BMW started their respective dual-education programs in 2015, prior to opening their manufacturing plants in Puebla and San Luis Potosi. Both premium vehicle manufacturers agree that dual education is a pillar for their operations and a seed to level up regional talent. "Some wonder why we are spending so much money on these programs and the answer is that training will lead to good qualifications and a higher level of education. If we produce premium quality, we need premium workers," told Andreas Lehe, President of Audi México, to México Automotive Review.
In recent days, both BMW and Audi announced that a new generation of apprentices has successfully completed the dual-education program. For Audi México, the third generation of apprentices successfully completed a technical career in mechatronics, automotive mechatronics, body and coating mechanics, tooling mechanics or production mechanics. Up to date, more than 300 students have completed the program, based 80 percent on practical and 20 percent on theoretical knowledge.
BMW's dual-education program recently graduated its fourth generation, summing up more than 350 students that have successfully completed a technical program in either mechatronics, production or automotive mechanics. "The development of our collaborators' skills and abilities is an essential element to assure successful operations. Their experience, alongside their training, is the base for our quality and our distinctive products," said Jörg Willimayer, President & CEO of BMW Group San Luis Potosi Plant, on a statement.
Dual education programs are created in partnership with local education institutions at both university and high school levels. In Puebla, Universidad Tecnológica de Puebla has been a key partner for Audi México, while in San Luis Potosi, Universidad Tecnológica de San Luis Potosí, CONALEP and CBTiS have played an important role to select upcoming generations of apprentices.
The spillover effects these programs have in regional development cannot go unnoticed as a well-trained workforce increases the regional quality of manufacturing operations. "This program has a ripple effect across the entire industry. If somebody leaves Audi, they could get a good job in another company. By increasing the quality of our people, they have more chances to work in a global industry designing new products and new engineering processes," said Lehe.
The role of women in the industry is also gaining strength. BMW affirms that 36 percent of its graduated apprentices are women while in Audi’s latest generation of apprentices, 28 percent were women. "We are generating a greater interest from women to participate in technical areas within the automotive industry," said BMW Planta San Luis Potosí on a statement.
Dual-education programs could play a major role in improving efficiency and capabilities across the country, according to Lehe. "There is an opportunity to replicate these kinds of apprenticeships in other companies and regions in Mexico. People here are hard-working and they are very good at their job but if their training were better, their impact would be greater at Audi and at other companies. Training is equally important for smaller companies. They have to spend money on young people so they can grow in the future," said Lehe.
You can read our full interview with Andreas Lehe here.