Where young talent is forged

The training centre in Solothurn trains young people in a range of professions.

Christian Bohner takes a critical look at the component that a trainee has just made. Then he measures it. "That looks pretty good. What else could you do to improve your work?" Bohner asks the young man. The two talk shop for a few minutes, then Bohner sends him back to the mill. "He'll soon get that sorted," he says with a smile. And he knows what he is talking about: The 56-year-old electromechanical technician manages the training centre (BZ). For 34 years, he has been working with young trainees and, in addition to his management role at the BZ, also works as a vocational college teacher in Olten. Christian Bohner heads a team of four vocational trainers at the BZ.

The Thal-Mittelland Vocational Training Association, to which the BZ is attached, trains young people in a total of 13 professional groups, including logistics experts, painters, clerks and system operators as well as various professions in the MEM sector and automation specialists.

Accuracy is a must: BZ Manager Christian Bohner (right) in a technical discussion.

A win-win situation for businesses and young people

Young people are the future, and this is especially true when there is a shortage of skilled workers. And the Thal-Mittelland Vocational Training Association (BLV) has an essential role to play in this: the BLV is the largest training network in the Solothurn-Olten area for technical, commercial and business professions. The extensive scope of training is designed to secure future long-term career prospects for young people and monitor both trainees and training companies. To this end, the Thal-Mittelland Vocational Training Association takes the strain off training companies in the area, providing excellent supervision whilst also focusing on enabling trainees to fulfil their potential. The BLV attaches great importance to modern, professional vocational training. Important practical and theoretical expertise is taught at the large, modern training centre (BZ) in Solothurn.

The association was originally set up to counteract the shortage of skilled workers and to support micro-enterprises in training their apprentices. Both of these goals are more important than ever today, because the need for young talent is high, particularly in the MEM sector. The training centre in Zuchwil therefore not only works with the BLV; it also provides basic training for trainees with additional regional partner companies. Their acquisition is also part of the duties carried out by Christian Bohner.

Taking the right course

Today, the BZ is one of the largest training centres in the region. The BZ is, in fact, the leading provider of inter-company courses for system operators, with around 140 trainees per year. "This is a very exciting line of work," explains Christian Bohner. "These specialists are responsible for systems in essential industries such as Medtech, the food industry and the pharmaceutical segment — all industries with attractive prospects for the future."

What's more, the training always has practical relevance due to the centre's modern machinery.

A stable network

Christian Bohner sees one of his most important tasks for the future as finding additional companies that can and want to train young people together with the BZ, thereby strengthening the industry in Switzerland. In order to cooperate with the BZ, a company does not necessarily have to be located in the region around Solothurn; for example, they may also be based in Aargau. "We are relatively flexible and pragmatic," says the BZ Manager. This flexibility is also reflected in the day-to-day operation of the training centre. Because the BZ has moved with the times, opportunities for digitalisation are being utilised, and the use of laptops has become standard, along with work performed using personal mobile devices ("bring your own device").

Speaking of the future: How does Christian Bohner assess the situation of skilled workers now and in the future? "It is certainly not getting any easier to meet demand with suitable talent," he explains. At the BZ, Bohner and his team therefore attach great importance to ensuring that young professionals can sharpen their personal skills and accept responsibility, in addition to boosting their professional expertise. "You have to be very patient when dealing with young people," the expert stresses. They are no longer as focused on career planning as in the past, and instead want to try more things and find a career that they really enjoy. That makes it even more important to rouse the interest of young professionals. "If you manage that, you will create something wonderful." 

The measuring set from Brütsch/Rüegger Tools in action.

"You simply have to keep up with the times to be able to motivate and inspire the trainees."

The partnership with Brütsch/Rüegger Tools is another part of this successful equation. In terms of measuring equipment, in particular, the partnership has been strengthened and proven successful. "With Brütsch/Rüegger Tools, we have put together individual measuring sets for each profession for our current 35 trainees," explains Bohner. Reordering and expanding the tool set is easy and practical. "We are also finding the advice on new PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) very practical, and the offers are great." So the trainees are supplied from head to toe with tools from Brütsch/Rüegger — from safety shoes, trousers and belts to printed T-shirts and jumpers, to safety goggles and bespoke corrective goggles.

Further information on the Thal-Mittelland Vocational Training Association and the training centre can be found here on the website and on social media.

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