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Vocational training knows no borders


For many students, a stay abroad via the European education program "Erasmus" is an integral part of their studies. "Erasmus+" is the name of the expansion of the program that also supports trainees in all professions. Within the framework of "Erasmus+", REHAU trainee Siegfried travelled to Norway for two weeks. The prospective electronics technician for automation technology worked in the company of an electrician and gained many new impressions. We spoke to Siegfried to find out more about his stay abroad. 

Press contact

Andrea Schmidt

Rheniumhaus, 95111 Rehau
Tel.+49 9283 772817 

Siegfried, how did you benefit from "Erasmus+"?
As part of "Erasmus+", I was able to complete a two-week internship abroad. As a trainee for automation technology, I got the opportunity to travel to Norway this year in May through my vocational school in Bamberg – supported by "Erasmus+" and by REHAU. The project was organized by the "videregående skole" in the Norwegian city of Lier and the vocational school III in Bamberg.

Siegfried, can you briefly explain what the goal of "Erasmus+" is?
Yes, with pleasure. The "Erasmus+" program aims to promote mutual understanding, develop social and intercultural skills among learners, and improve foreign language skills. For this purpose, the trainees complete internships in companies in other European countries and thus find themselves in an appropriate environment, everyday life and work. For the internship abroad, the trainees are provided with funds for travel and accommodation.

Speaking of travel - how was the journey?
Long and exhausting! It started on a Saturday morning, when we - a group of two prospective florists, two commercial trainees and I - set off from Bamberg to go to the north.
First we took the train to Hamburg and then changed to the cheapest travel alternative to Norway: the FlixBus. It was a decision that the majority of the group had voted for. This is because the subsidy from "Erasmus+" is based on the duration of the exchange and they tried to cover the costs of transportation and accommodation first. The rest of the funding we could use for food. And since we were all trainees, the idea was to travel as cheap as possible!
The most beautiful part of our journey was the crossing from Germany to Denmark on a ferry. The sunset over the Baltic Sea was breathtaking!
Once we arrived in Oslo, we took the train to Drammen, where we moved into our apartments. I shared an apartment with one of the commercial trainees. We got along very well, living together in our flat.
All in all, the long, thirty-hour trip had a positive impact on our teambuilding: a very strong group cohesion developed right from the start and we did most of the leisure activities together - from hikes and cooking evenings to a weekend trip to Oslo to long "Uno" nights and more.

What can you tell us about your work in Norway?
Our internship companies were all located in Drammen. Drammen has just under 100,000 inhabitants and consists of two districts divided by a fjord. There are many bridges in the city.
My work was exciting and rich in variety. I felt very well taken care of at the electrical company "vikenstrøm", where I did my internship. As an employee of a small five-man company, I had very close contact with the Norwegian electricians, whom I accompanied and supported on their assignments.

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The company primarily carries out electrical installations for private customers. Each employee has a van for this purpose, equipped with tools and materials. My internship was so great because I had a lot of contact with people in different regions - even on the loneliest estates in the middle of nature!

During my internship I was able to ask many technical questions about electrical safety and energy systems. I was very surprised to learn how different the standards in Norway are and I was able to learn a lot about it. I worked full time every day except for two days when I attended the local vocational school. There I learned a lot about the structure of the Norwegian school system.

For one afternoon, I took part in the electronics technicians' technical classes and was asked to ask questions of the trainees in order to check their level of knowledge and to practice communication. This made me realize how different the vocational school focus is in Norway.

What do you mean by "different"?
The training in Norway is structured in two years of full-time instruction and two years of working in a company. However, you are not tied to the company, as the training does not primarily run through the company. Accordingly, the school-based part of the training in Norway is much more practical. However, I assume that the basic theoretical understanding of processes and operating equipment, which is important from my point of view, is not very well-founded.

In which language did you actually communicate?
I communicated in English. That worked out fine, because the Norwegians have an excellent command of the language. My Norwegian colleagues logically conducted customer meetings in Norwegian. The most necessary things were translated for me. Of course, I also picked up a few words of Norwegian. So I could guess that a Norwegian friend did not want onions when he ordered us kebab!

Siegfried, can you tell us something else about the application process for "Erasmus+"?
Sure. It required an application to the school's program in German as well as a CV and motivation letter in English for the application to the internship companies. However, the final application to the internship company, including the selection of the companies, was done by the organizer.
For "Erasmus+" we had to deliver presentations in Norway and Germany respectively and keep a diary during the entire stay, which was counted as a final report. These were necessary requirements the funding was tied to. Furthermore, everyone had to fill out a learning agreement, the Europass and a participant report. And there were also a few preparatory courses to clarify details about the trip and to expand cultural understanding.

How did REHAU react when you came up with this idea?
My training company responded very positively to my wish to participate in the exchange program. You could even say my training supervisor was on fire!
As far as I know, I was the first REHAU apprentice electronics technician for automation technology to take part in "Erasmus+". Unfortunately, there is very little interest in the program. I think that's a great pity!

What is your conclusion?
A stay abroad during vocational training is an excellent opportunity to develop your skills and get a deep dive in a completely different working world. For me it was an unforgettable time with wonderful impressions and experiences. A chance like this to broaden your own horizons doesn't come along too often and you should definitely take it. You won’t regret it and I can only recommend it to everyone!

Thank you very much for the interesting interview, Siegfried!

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