Heidelberg has opened Future Workshop, a learning space for apprentices at its Wiesloch-Walldorf site with the aim of introducing them to its corporate digitalization strategy from the beginning.

Digital transformation has been of strategic importance to Heidelberg for a number of years. The printing equipment manufacturer noted how its advancing digital transformation is placing high demand on vocational training at the company. To make it easier to shape technological and social change, the Future Workshop has been established.

Here, apprentices will be familiarized early on with how the latest digital working methods are used, such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and utility films. Trainee mechatronics engineers can use VR tools to inspect the insides of a printing press, for example. A special set of VR goggles enables them to navigate around a virtual environment simulating assembly, maintenance and repair work. This makes the product transparent and more easily understandable for apprentices, said Heidelberg.

Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer explained, "We are getting our young recruits fit to face the challenges of the digital future. We are investing heavily in cutting-edge training methods. After all, we need motivated and dynamic workers adept in state-of-the-art digital technologies to drive forward digital transformation at Heidelberg."

In the Future Workshop, apprentices also use these methods to assemble products for start-ups such as Apium, a supplier of 3D printers based in Karlsruhe. Heidelberg is providing Apium with development and production capacity at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site as part of its high-tech campus concept.

Rainer Haus, who is in charge of Heidelberg’s training in Germany, said, "Our aim is to develop employees with sustainable skills who are open and courageous enough to embrace new concepts, particularly in a culture that is highly dynamic and constantly changing, as well as being keen to assume responsibility and make decisions."

Prof. Rupert Felder, head of HR at Heidelberg, concluded, "At the same time, we are making our training program even more appealing and interesting to digital natives in what might otherwise be considered a "conventional" sector."