Toyoda Gosei Meteor started a qualification program that allows keeping a part of the production in Bockenem
Continuing education and (re-)qualification have been big topic for years. Industrial working places are relocated to countries with lower wages. Toyoda Gosei Meteor in Bockenem also had to relocate some working steps to other locations. During the long time of insolvency, the number of employees was reduced from 1.800 to 800. After the takeover by Toyoda Gosei, the number of employees grew to 1.200 again, but the costs of production in Germany are high and products have to be relocated to other Toyoda Gosei locations. The company started a qualification program to keep special areas of the production in Bockenem.
Essentially, the core of the program is to re-qualify employees from production areas that would be affected by relocation in order to use them in processes like extrusion. In the extruder screws, the raw material is pressed out continuously under pressure to form a shape. For that purpose, Toyoda Gosei Meteor works together with the Chamber of Crafts (Handwerkskammer) and the Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit). As a first step, 15 employees have been qualified since November, 14 more have just started. The target is to train 100 employees. “It is very good that the company invests in people, not only in machines”, said Mr. Bernd Westphal (member of the German Bundestag). He visited the company on 08.03.19 to get more information about this program. Mr. Reipert (head of works council) confirmed that the company invests a lot of money the measure despite government funding. He also said: “It is very interesting that this program is designed for older employees, but there is no age limit.”
Another very important topic in the meeting with Mr. Westphal was the company’s intention to invest in automation and digitization in the future. The company stated out that support from politics, especially for structurally weak areas, is necessary. Katsumi Saito, one of the Managing Director, mentioned the decisive factor for the success. “Not only small companies need support through the structural change but also companies like Toyoda Gosei Meteor.”
Toyoda Gosei Meteor intends as a medium-term target to expand the business unit Technical products, which is currently 15% of the total sales. This will also to reduce the dependence on the automotive industry.
Mr. Westphal took some very positive impressions from his visit: “It has developed very well. The mood of the employees is positive, especially from those persons who are in the qualification program.” The works council informed about some negative points: “The pricing pressure from the big OEMs is getting higher. At Volkswagen they pay a yearly bonus of 4.000 Euro – the wage gap is getting bigger.”
The politics knows this problem, stated Mr. Westphal, but they have no options to do anything. Perhaps if the automotive supplier work together, they have a better chance to achieve improvements. The union and the works council achieved a significant reduction of leased persons. The agreement says that maximum of 10% of the employees can be leased persons. Currently the number is approx. 100 leased persons and several employees with limited contracts. The cooperation between works council and management is very good now.
As Mr. Reipert informed, it is now very important to promote the training and the qualification. The average age of employees is 47 which is very high. “Many employees will retire in the next years. We have to push the internal training to keep the know-how in the company. We hope it is not too late.” For this year, Toyoda Gosei Meteor is still looking for some new trainees.
The feedback from the employees who already attended the qualification is very positive. It is a challenge but at the same time it is also a very good action.