As might be expected, the career plans of the students are varied and ambitious. For instance, Andrea Bedlivá and Jan Bezdìka are both 22 years old and taking the bachelor’s degree. They sit together over a coffee in the stylish university cafeteria and look ahead to the future: Andrea, half of whose family works at Škoda, has her sights set on working in the company’s press office. Jan, who speaks fluent German, would ideally like to be a test driver. At some lectures, he looks out through the large panes of glass directly onto Škoda’s Research and Development Center, where a combination of technical expertise and business know-how is called for. “The career prospects at Škoda and in the Volkswagen Group as a whole are a huge motivation for me,” says Jan. The same can be said of Jana Lávic and Martin Soukup. This afternoon, they are attending a Materials Engineering lecture given by a former quality manager in a testing laboratory at the Škoda plant. Jana and Martin talk shop amongst the cutaways of cylinder heads and engine blocks. As they are both studying for a master’s degree in the evening while working at Škoda – with financial support from their employer – this is familiar territory for them. Jana (32) began her career twelve years previously in Procurement. Today, she is assistant to the head of department and full of praise for the university concept: “What I learn here can often be applied in my job just days later. For example, how to gauge the credit quality of potential suppliers from the information in their annual reports.” Martin (30) works at the other end of the automotive value chain, as Sales Director for the Middle East and Australia. He can readily imagine moving to either of these regions for a few years with his wife and child. However, the next step is to obtain his master’s degree. “My studies allow me to really get to grips with the complexity of international marketing. This is important for establishing the Škoda brand in new markets,” says Martin, who plans to write his master’s dissertation on the needs of the “Automotive Consumer in the 21st Century.”
No sooner is the matriculation ceremony over than David Hlušička can once again be found sitting in front of a computer screen in the university library. David (24) is tirelessly devoted to preparing for his future career: During his master’s degree, in which he majored in financial management, he already completed marketing internships at Škoda and at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg. But he was also able to expand his network within the Group by working at the official Volkswagen importer for the Czech Republic and even completed a placement in China. He has now signed up for an additional course in Mandarin at the Auto University. “People graduate from other universities well versed in theory, but I want to be well versed in practice as well,” says David. It is difficult to imagine that such a dedicated student would not be among the 70 percent of master’s graduates who go on to start their careers directly at Škoda or within the Volkswagen Group.
When it comes to vocational training and personnel development, the Volkswagen Group has led the field for decades. Institutions like the Škoda Auto University or the AutoUni in Wolfsburg – the flagship of the Group’s training activities worldwide – help to hone the technical expertise of the workforce. Since 2002, the AutoUni has offered training courses throughout the Group in conjunction with individual departments of Volkswagen AG and cooperating universities. The institution is renowned for its interdisciplinary training programs, its academic standards and its international outlook. In 2009, over 10,000 participants attended the seminars organized by the AutoUni.
THREE QUESTIONS FOR PROF. DR. HORST NEUMANN, THE MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBLE FOR HUMAN RESOURCES, ABOUT SECURING NEW TALENT FOR THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP
How do institutions such as the AutoUni or Škoda Auto University contribute to the success of the Volkswagen Group?
Regardless of the differences in their underlying concepts, these two institutions both subscribe to the view that expertise, commitment and performance are what makes a winning team. In this connection, systematic training is of great importance. Training helps to retain technical expertise within the job families and to build on it constantly. Institutions like the AutoUni or Škoda Auto University help to channel new knowledge into the company, thereby ensuring that we at Volkswagen have an important competitive advantage when it comes to innovations and technical developments. Across the Group, we are involved in over 40 university alliances and, through our joint efforts with the Lower Saxony Research Centre for Vehicle Technology (NFF), we are at the cutting edge of research. These cooperative measures are crucial for honing the technical expertise of our workforce.
Could it be said that the Group’s training institutions are also part of its strategic goal to position itself as an attractive employer?
Yes, because it is naturally important for employees to have the option of continuing professional development. This function is performed by AudiAkademie, SEAT Formación and Volkswagen Coaching at their various locations. The AutoUni is the flagship of our training activities, providing top-level expertise to all job families. Its programs combine the latest findings from practical experience with a sound theoretical knowledge base. I should also mention that all courses are developed with extensive input from the relevant departments. The AutoUni applies the blended learning concept, which combines face-to-face and distance learning.
But the AutoUni is not meant to be a university in the conventional sense, is it?
No, it is and will always be an establishment for training Group employees. Its four institutions – Purchasing, Finance and Controlling, Sales and Marketing, and Work and Personnel Management – are geared towards the job families within the Company. The function of the AutoUni is not to conduct any fundamental research itself but rather to facilitate the transfer of knowledge between science and industry. In this respect, it differs from the Škoda Auto University, which cooperates with state universities – including lecturer positions – and offers academic degrees.