Jason T. Kenney, Canada's Minister of Employment and Social Development, and Minister for Multiculturalism, visited STIHL in Waiblingen with a business delegation on March 10. The reason for the visit was the Canadian government's interest in the highly regarded German educational system. In the talks, Dr. Bertram Kandziora stressed the significance of a good apprenticeship and training for the success of the German economy: "We are proud of our dual vocational training system in Germany. It enables us to cover our requirements for skilled workers from within the company with our highly qualified young staff." The delegation was welcomed by STIHL advisory board member Dr. Rüdiger Stihl. It toured the engineering center and the chainsaw assembly line in STIHL Plant 2 in Waiblingen, Neustadt. STIHL is the biggest selling chainsaw brand in Canada. The sales subsidiary based in London, Ontario was founded in 1981. It is the fifth largest subsidiary in the STIHL Group outside Germany.
Vocational training is a special characteristic of German industry which is hardly provided for by the state and companies in any other country. STIHL takes on 60 new apprentices every year. More than 200 apprentices work at STIHL. This number includes 45 students of the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in technical and commercial courses of study in the company. For several years STIHL has been exporting the dual vocational training system to its plants abroad. Young staff in Austria and Switzerland, but also the U.S.A., China and Brazil can enjoy an apprenticeship along the lines of the German model and thus considerably improve their career prospects. Moreover, the apprentices can broaden their international horizons: for example, there are apprentice exchanges between STIHL's European plants, and secondments to the American plant in Virginia Beach or China are also possible.
Minister Kenney has set himself the task of ensuring that young Canadians are optimally prepared for the labour market of the future. At the present time there is no equivalent to the German vocational training system in Canada. "The dual vocational training system offers young people and companies a great opportunity. It combines practical experience at the workplace with theory in the classroom. Young adults thus receive a form of training which is geared to the needs of the labour market", said Kenney. For more than 70 years STIHL has attached great importance to training young skilled workers. Thanks to innovative training concepts, the apprentices acquire not only technical knowhow, but also problem-solving expertise and social competence. The 38-strong Canadian delegation also included Saskatchewan‘s Minister of Advanced Education, Rob Norris, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of ESDC, Scott Armstrong, as well as Canada's Deputy Head of Mission Eric Walsh.