Training and professional development

At Volkswagen, our capacity for innovation and competitiveness depends to a large extent on the commitment and knowledge of our staff. Training at Volkswagen is organized very systematically on the basis of the so-called vocational groups. A vocational group includes all employees whose tasks are based on similar technical skills and who require related expertise in order to perform their jobs. The skills profiles lay down the functional and interdisciplinary skills for each job and serve as an orientation for training measures.

Volkswagen Group employees have access to a wide range of training measures – from advanced training on general Company-related issues, to specific training within the individual vocational groups, to personal development programs. The educational opportunities and development programs at the Volkswagen Group enable staff to continue to develop throughout their working lives and constantly deepen their knowledge. In this process, they also learn from more experienced colleagues, who act as experts in the vocational group academies – the learning centers of the vocational groups – and pass on their knowledge to others. All training is based on the dual training principle, which combines learning theoretical content with practical experience on the job and by means of specific tasks.

New technologies can usefully complement learning and the transfer of expertise. As the central training organization in the Group, the Volkswagen Group Academy incorporates this idea into different projects. One example of this is the Education Lab, where the Volkswagen Group Academy conducts training research and analyzes training trends, tests technologies at Volkswagen together with start-ups, thereby introducing new forms of skills development at the Company.

Within the Volkswagen Group Academy, the AutoUni provides the Group with knowledge that is relevant for the future by integrating internal senior experts and collaborating with universities. Its events are offered as programs and as cooperative study modules in a blended learning format, which combines classroom training with online content, and are supplemented by lectures and conferences.

Vocational training and cooperative education

The core component of training at Volkswagen is vocational training or for young people eligible to enter university, cooperative education (dual study programs combining university studies with on-the-job training). As of the end of 2017, the Volkswagen Group had trained 19,207 young people in approximately 50 trades. Volkswagen has introduced the principle of dual vocational training at many of the Group’s international locations over the past few years and is continuously working on improvements. Over three-quarters of all the Group’s vocational trainees now learn their trade through dual vocational training. Once a year, Volkswagen honors its highest-achieving vocational trainees in the Group with the Best Apprentice Award.

Volkswagen continues to assist in the professional development of young people at the start of their careers even after their vocational training has been completed. Talent groups, for example, are used to promote particularly talented young specialists. These two-year development and training programs accept the highest-achieving 10% of fully qualified vocational trainees at Volkswagen AG and the Zwickau site each year. Fully qualified vocational trainees also have the option to move to a Group company outside Germany for twelve months as part of the “Wanderjahre” (Year Abroad) program. In the reporting period, 31 Volkswagen Group locations in 17 countries took part in this development program. The AGEBI+ program was designed to promote fully qualified vocational trainees who are eligible for university, thus offering students the opportunity to combine practical experience with a degree program in subjects that are critical for Volkswagen’s future.

By joining the European Alliance for Apprenticeships in 2017, Volkswagen is also working to promote vocational training outside the Group. The European Alliance for Apprenticeships is a platform that brings together government departments from various countries with other key stakeholders such as businesses, social partners, professional bodies, vocational training providers and youth organizations. The common goal is to strengthen the quality, supply, image and mobility of apprenticeships in Europe.

Development of university graduates

Volkswagen offers two structured entry and development programs for university graduates and young professionals. In the StartUp Direct trainee program, graduate trainees gain an overview of the Company over a two-year period while working in their own department, and take part in supplementary training measures. University graduates interested in working internationally can participate in the 18-month StartUp Cross program. The aim of the program is to get to know the Company in all of its diversity and to build up a broad network. During the term of this program, young professionals become familiarized with several Volkswagen Passenger Cars locations in Germany and other countries by working in various functional areas. Both programs are supplemented by several weeks’ experience working in production. In 2017, Volkswagen AG hired a total of 89 graduate trainees as part of these programs, 30.3% of whom were women.

Graduate trainee programs are also available at the Group’s international locations such as ŠKODA in the Czech Republic or Scania in Sweden. In addition, the Volkswagen Group has been offering young engineers from Southern Europe, where unemployment especially among young academics remains a major problem, the opportunity to gain international work experience through the StartUp Europe trainee program since 2012. Volkswagen has designed this program for university graduates, who work for three months at a Group company in their home country followed by 21 months at a German Group company.