Heavy Metal: Professions in the metal craft have a future

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The professional world is changing and traditional professions are also changing, making them more attractive for new target groups. The digitization of the job profile contributes to this. An overview.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Institute's job pictures Yourweb.


Changing metal professions

Metalworking professions have changed over the past few decades. New job titles spiegeln also reflect this change. The former profession of blacksmith is now part of the metal design genre. The field of work not only includes the production of gates or railings, it also includes metal furniture and design items. In this way, trained metal designers can definitely decide to give their work an artistic focus and work in the art of blacksmithing. This as well as other metal trades are increasingly learned and carried out by women today.

Computer work is also increasingly used in metalworking professions. With the help of appropriate software, construction technicians create metal stairs and railings, bus shelters, Components for roof structures and even eco-houses, which also cannot do without metal. Precision, creativity and skill are particularly required here. 3D constructions are worked out on the computer so that they can be manufactured by machines.

Modern technology is the be-all and end-all in today's metal professions. This applies particularly to constructions with four wheels. Commercial vehicle manufacturers create parts for special vehicles, for example special trucks or loading devices for transport. These include bodies, superstructures or chassis that are not only manufactured but also serviced. Welding and riveting are carried out here, so manual skills are just as important as precise work so that the vehicles are also roadworthy.

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Offspring for metal professions

Regardless of whether Metal worker or construction technician, an activity in metal construction is one of the future-proof and coveted professions. Depending on the professional field, the training usually lasts between two and four years. Despite good conditions and future prospects, there is still a lack of young people. Reasons for this could be that school leavers know too little about the metal professions and the changes in job profiles and training content are not well known to the public. Since in many minds the metalworking professions are still seen as a “male domain”, women who are interested in these professions may not feel sufficiently addressed.

This also applies to young people with a migrant background and generally all young people with manual skills. To counteract this, the project "Heavy Metal - Our Future in Metalworking" launched by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the European Social Fund (ESF) as part of the Xenos program "Integration and Diversity". This should target previously neglected target groups and raise awareness of the metal professions.

More skilled workers for the metal craft

The drop in the number of apprentices and the demographic change results in the shortage of skilled workers in the industry, which runs through the entire so-called MINT professions. The numbers speak a clear language: Over 300.000 specialists are missing nationwide in the areas of mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology, according to the calculations of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW Köln).

A multitude of measures should lead to mobilizing specialists for these professions. This primarily includes securing young talent, but also filling specialists from abroad, without which there would be a large gap in the labor market. Foreign specialists come mainly from India, who mainly work in industrial professions and very often also have special expertise in expert knowledge.

Training measures for company trainers

Further training measures are also necessary for the trainers in the metalworking companies in order to be up to date with the changing job profiles. In terms of digitization and learning methods in particular, there is a need to catch up. Despite the high willingness of the trainers to continue their training in these areas, they report Company an increased need for further training offers that cannot be tackled at the required pace due to the rapid changes due to digitization.

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Since increasing digitalization affects not only the training content but also the didactic methods, the trainers are asked to provide the right solutions for this. However, there is an increasing lack of suitable further training offers or there is uncertainty about which offers are relevant in order to be able to meet the necessary requirements. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research therefore wants the project "Network Q 4.0 - Network for the qualification of vocational training personnel in the digital change" Take a close look at the need for further training measures and design suitable further training offers for trainers.

New professions, new names

It is understandable that job titles and priorities change from time to time. Many previous occupations, which could previously be practiced by unskilled employees, have now become more complex, which is why qualified training is also required for this. This also offers young people with less good qualifications the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship and thus receive vocational training that improves their chances on the job market. For example, two-year training courses for skilled workers have been created. B. training as a specialist in metal technology.

The activities in this profession originated from previous individual professions such as parts or wire drawing, some of which date back to the beginning of the last century. Today, the profession of "specialist for metal technology" is divided into four disciplines, all of which summarize the old professions. In addition, graduates can build on the two-year apprenticeship and get the apprenticeship time credited to more highly qualified jobs in the metal industry. In this way, school leavers with lower school-leaving qualifications can also take up a job later, for which a total of three and a half years of training is necessary. B. to be able to practice the profession of industrial mechanic.

What has changed the reorganization of metal and electrical professions?

With the reorganization of the metal and electrical professions, many old professions were renamed in the late 1980s after 50 years: the profession of industrial mechanic encompasses the former occupations of the machine and company locksmith. In the 2000s, new two-year apprenticeships were gradually added: machine and system operators, industrial electricians and Specialist for metal technology, The number of apprentices who have opted for these professions is not to be sneezed at, and once again proves that two-year apprenticeship occupations met the needs of the metal and electrical industry.

The metal and electrical professions have only recently been modernized. This includes:

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  • Anlagenmechaniker / in
  • Electronics technician for automation technology
  • Electronics technician for industrial engineering
  • Electronics technician for buildings and infrastructure systems
  • Electronics technician for devices and systems
  • Electronics technician for information and system technology
  • Industrial mechanic / in
  • Construction mechanic / in
  • Mechatronics / in
  • Toolmaker / in
  • Zerspanungsmechaniker / in

Digital learning methods and techniques are changing the craft

The changed training content includes digitization of work, data protection and information security, operational and technical communication as well as business processes and quality assurance systems in the area of ​​application. New, mostly eight-week additional qualifications have also emerged: process integration, system integration, IT-supported system changes and additive manufacturing processes for the metal professions, mechatronics technicians can train in programming, IT security, digital networking and additive manufacturing techniques, and programming, IT security and digital networking on offer.

The learning methods are also changing over time. Due to the increasing digitalization, training content is increasingly being conveyed through digital media. Where books used to be rolled over, videos and 3-D animations are increasingly being used to explain complex processes in the metalworking industry. Digital media are also used in vocational schools. By the Federal and state digital pact Learning with the help of laptops and smartpads is made possible at schools and funding is provided for the purchase of hardware and software.

New media for conveying training content

Virtual reality glasses can also be financed from the digital pact. But companies are also increasingly using this opportunity to impart knowledge. In the metal professions in particular, VR glasses can be used to present and convey work processes under real conditions. Workplaces recreated using VR technology allow trainees to develop routines for their tasks without using up work materials or exposing them to potential dangers. Additional information can also be displayed during assembly using the VR glasses, thus helping the trainee to better memorize the work processes and provide assistance. Appropriate image files and animations can further clarify the processes.

Digitization represents a quantum leap in teaching content and also shows how learning processes can be made understandable for the new generation of trainees. Since young trainees are already growing up in the digital world, digital media also determine their thinking and acting. In this respect, learning content must also be adapted to new thinking and learning patterns that have arisen through the use of digital media. Numerous examples in various companies prove that this Learning in the digital change - keyword vocational training 4.0 - face new challenges.

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  1. Rolf

    I have a lot of family members who work in the metal trade. I am very interested in metal construction myself, but I was always afraid that the professions had no future. It's nice to know that new areas are being reached and there is more and more metalwork going on. Thank you!

    • Simone Janson

      Thank you for your contribution!

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