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An apprentice at Hjerno is not just an apprentice

A steady ‘food chain’ of young, skilled talents is crucial for the future of the tool industry – and for Danish industry’s competitiveness in general.

Hjerno therefore always commits to have a certain number of apprentices in the company.

And not just tool maker apprentices, although they are of course in the majority. We also employ industrial technician apprentices and technical designer apprentices in order to raise the professional level of the company.

"Apprentices boost our company. And that is why it is rewarding to have several different types of apprenticeships under the same roof," says managing director Aage Agergaard.

Both a journeyman’s certificate and a student’s cap
He welcomes the fact that today it is possible to combine an apprenticeship course with a high school graduation so that one gets both a journeyman's certificate and a student’s cap.

This is the case for one of Hjerno’s apprentices, Elias Laine, who studies to become an EUX industrial technician at the Syddansk Erhvervsskole (SDE College). A 4½-year-long course that gives access to further education on the same terms as other upper secondary level educations.

The flexible education means that Elias in turns works at Hjerno and goes to school where he attends a variety of secondary level school subjects.

"An education, such as the one Elias attends to, is exactly what we need in Danish industry. Especially in our industry it is hard to find mid-level managers because most skilled workers remain tool makers throughout their careers. That is why a course where the tool maker education is complemented by a secondary level education, and thus some other skills, is very welcome," says Aage Agergaard.

Department rotation
As with the other apprentices, Elias participates on an equal footing with the more experienced employees in Hjerno’s daily production. Rather than only being in one department, all the apprentices are allowed to get a sniff at several different departments.

"We would like to form apprentices, who end up being the company’s most skilled employees and they can only become that by obtaining a wide professional knowledge. They can always become specialists later on," states Aage Agergaard.

This is a philosophy that fits Elias Laine really well.

"We get quite a lot of hands-on experience if we put some commitment into it. It is really cool because it means that I am allowed to be involved in a great many things.”

Moreover, one or two times a month Hjerno arranges our so-called Tool Academy. Here we make sure that our apprentices have learned what they need to learn in the previous practice period before they return to school for awhile.