The challenge of finding talent. Bernhard Gehlert, Bosch: It is important to combine theoretical knowledge and practical applications

Bernhard Gehlert Bosch Economedia Foto: Bernhard Gehlert, Bosch

The German company Bosch has developed a lot in recent years, in Blaj. About 40% of the inhabitants of the city and the surrounding villages work there. In addition, a large number of employees came from other parts, from big cities, and even expats.

Economedia spoke with Bernhard Gehlert, Senior Vice President, commercial director of the Bosch Automotive SRL factory in Blaj.

Since November 2020, he has been the commercial director of the Bosch production unit in Blaj, Alba County. He has been with the Bosch Group for over 20 years, occupying important positions in company locations in countries such as China, Turkey, and Italy.

Bernhard Gehlert answered questions about how the company solves the workforce problem that many companies located in small towns have, about motivating employees and recruiting them.

In connection with this aspect, it is worth noting the technical education system that the company carries out in Romania and which represents a nursery for the recruitment of future employees. Students have the opportunity to work directly in the Bosch system and understand what it means to be an employee of such a company.

The commercial director of the factory also spoke about the challenges the company went through in the context of the COVID pandemic and how the problem was managed.

Bernhard Gehlert, Senior Vice President, commercial director of the Bosch Automotive SRL factory in Blaj:

Bosch has been here in Blaj for 14 years and, of course, every location has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage we have is that we are one of the largest employers in the region and that is why we can attract many employees to work for us.

It is also a challenge to find talent and have incentives to attract young and ambitious talent to our location. And we know that young people are looking for employers who provide a good work atmosphere and we know that it is important for them how their leaders treat them.

I also think that the most important is job challenges and career opportunities. I think we can offer all these points.

To attract them, the first thing is to get in touch with these ambitious talents and show them what we can offer. And here we have some activities, we have staff marketing and obviously, we join forces with our colleagues from Cluj or Timișoara to present ourselves as Bosch in Romania.

For people who have decided to work for us and relocate to Blaj and its surroundings, we have the program “Living in Blaj” and support a series of activities. Access to the gym, the library, and obviously other cultural events… concerts… Unfortunately not last year, but we hope that when times return to normal, this will become possible again.

That is why I think it is important for us, like Bosch, to be an important factor in promoting the cultural development of a small town like Blajul, which is attractive anyway.

Most of them are Romanians (about employees – ed.) And we also have some foreigners from Germany and the Czech Republic because we are still a young factory and as such we need technical and managerial support from other Bosch factories to support this growth. strong.

About dual education

My father was the director of a vocational school and, therefore, through my parents, I am convinced in principle that this concept is successful. Why? Because some people have practical rather than theoretical talents.

It is important for these people to combine theoretical knowledge and practical applications in their work. And this combination is a real and powerful source of learning.

Of course, people can still go to university. Maybe they could even have a much stronger background in these conditions because they already have practical experience in a company and because they have already learned how it works.

It is also important that people who come into this education system know from the beginning that they can start a career at Bosch and that they can join our company as soon as they finish school.

It is a good reason to follow this path if you are a person with practical skills.

As a history, this dual education system started in 2013, with the first activities, at that time, with the partners from Alba Iulia.

In the meantime, we have opened our own laboratories to offer practical experiences and to teach them to these students and pupils and since 2019 we have our own training center here in collaboration with a local school we have built this dual system here in Blaj.

About the graduates who worked at Bosch

I think last year we had about 25% of the students who started with us. I must admit that this is not our target, I would be disappointed if we did not increase this percentage to over 50%.

Because I think we can improve this concept and we are still working on it to be even more attractive in the future.

We have the Training Center and we have a period that these young people spend with us and we use this time to teach them the technical skills necessary for the profession. We have electronics and mechanics as our main professions.

We also have production workers, but most enroll in electronics and mechanics.

For these professions, we show them how everything works in practice, and for this, we use the training center. They do not work in the production line, but they work in this environment, let’s say.

They are beginning to understand what it means to be a Bosch employee, and this is also important: to be identified as students somewhat connected to this company.

About the pandemic period

It was a difficult time, in particular, because all industries suffered a significant restriction of business activities.

It was so dramatic that normal tools were not enough to cope with this downturn.

Speaking of Bosch, we tried to keep the jobs. We have tried to do everything we can to survive such a crisis, maintain the workforce and be able to serve our customers again when the recovery begins.

And we have jobs that require certain qualifications, and this is an investment we make in our employees and of course we don’t want to give them up.

How to achieve this goal. We are grateful that the Romanian Government has introduced some measures and tools to support these activities. I had technical unemployment, kurzarbeit… I used these tools and I think it was a good balance between public, private, and employee support.

Because the employees also contributed, accepting these measures and accepting some disadvantages for them.

That is why we are so happy that we have found a compromise situation that is good for most employees and we have been able to keep our workforce.

There are jobs that can be done remotely. Others, such as work in the production line, do not.

So we have jobs that require a physical presence on site. For them, we have introduced a lot of measures to increase protection as much as possible. We were very strict.

We also had compliance processes; this means that we checked that all the rules we applied were followed and I believe that this is one of the success factors for which we did not have a negative impact within the company and we believe that this is the result of the implemented measures and employee discipline.

On the other hand, we have office jobs that can be done from home. We had a period in which a large part of the employees worked from home, but this is not a sustainable situation and now we have a balance between work from home and office work.

Employees want to make the change again. Have face-to-face discussions with colleagues…. so now we have a situation in which we still have a significant percentage of work at home, but also employees in offices.

Regarding the measures for the protection of employees, we have a canteen but to reduce the number of people and increase the space, this canteen is only available to our operators… There are measures by which we want to keep this virus under control.

We also have other standard measures, gate control, temperature measurement, other important measures which mean for example that if someone has not been in the office for 6 days, we ask for a quick test and use our medical center, which is in outside the factory, just minutes away.

It gives us the opportunity to have, say, the best control over limiting the impact of Covid.

Foto: Bernhard Gehlert, Bosch

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