Can girls apply for a train driver?
Chief Recruiter at Deutsche Bahn : "We don't look at school grades"
Ms. Wagner, why doesn't anyone want to be a train driver anymore?
That's not true. We have hired almost 5,000 train drivers in the past five years. In the list of the Federal Employment Agency, the profession is listed as one with the greatest lack of young talent, but it is also a special profession. Unlike electronics engineers, there is no market from which we can draw. We train our train drivers ourselves, through vocational training or lateral entry. But what is true: From the company's point of view, the job market is currently tough and competitive.
In what way?
Applicants can often choose where they want to work. The number of school leavers will continue to shrink in the coming years - and we have competitors, think of the automotive industry or the armed forces, who are also looking for students, skilled workers and academics.
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How many new employees are you looking for?
This year there are 8,000 new employees, as many as in previous years. Over the next ten years, we will employ 80,000 people.
In which areas?
There are the typical railroad professions such as train drivers, dispatchers, train attendants and jobs that are rather invisible to customers such as track construction, electronics and mechatronics. We are primarily looking for engineers and IT experts among the academics.
How do you advertise yourself?
Flexible working hours are an important topic, adapted to the different phases of life. With the last collective bargaining agreement, we also decided with our two unions that our employees can choose whether they want more money, less working hours or more vacation days.
What do the employees choose?
We do not know that, yet. We are currently in the phase in which employees can choose. We'll know more in the middle of the year. The decision will then apply from January 1, 2018.
Would you say workers' priorities have changed?
Of course, factors such as the compatibility of family and work and flexible working hours are playing an increasingly important role. A frequent question in job interviews, however, is still whether it is a secure job with development opportunities. And the company's culture is very important to many. You want to feel good.
You started a new campaign today to attract employees.
Our approach is that we are good but not perfect and always want to get better. That's why we also show a sign in the commercials that says that the train is canceled, or an IT expert who is annoyed that the WiFi on the train is currently not working.
You play with your weaknesses.
That doesn't quite fit it. We want to come across as real, authentic. That is why there are no models on our posters, but employees.
How did you choose them?
We phoned around the company, talked to trainers and plant managers. From just over 100 interested parties, we initially selected 30 who can be seen in videos and on posters.
Is that your media?
Of course we still go on TV and hang up big posters, of course people see us at the train stations, but we are increasingly online, in social networks.
How do you use the channels?
We approach academics on Xing and LinkedIn. The younger ones elsewhere: We post the stories of our campaign on Facebook, or trainees answer questions from users in the live chat. Completely unfiltered. We show our videos on YouTube and cooperate with influencers like Mr. Bergmann and Klein but Hanna. Instagram is about a look behind the scenes. On Snapchat, the protagonists of the campaign look after our account for one day, report from their lives and show what they do at work.
So it's about closeness.
Yes exactly. For this reason, we also use virtual reality glasses. I can explain to someone what their job would be like, or they have the chance to experience this job first hand as soon as they are wearing the glasses. For example, a student can see an electronics technician walking around on an ICE in the maintenance shop and repairing something. Such insights are exciting - and I can't bring the ICE to school. This is also incredibly popular at trade fairs.
What could the idea of tomorrow be?
What we are currently concerned with are so-called chat bots. There are questions that applicants ask again and again, and from this week onwards our colleagues will be programming and trying out whether these questions could not be answered automatically in a chat. We have to think about when do I need a person and what can the machine do, quickly and at any time.
Speaking of automation. Will the train driver still exist in 50 years?
That is a question that applicants also ask us. Of course, digitization is an important driver of our time. We need train drivers today, we need train drivers in the next few years, that is clear. But one thing is also certain: job profiles are changing and developing.
Are employees afraid?
At least there is no reason for that at DB. In the new Labor 4.0 collective agreement, we have stated that every employee has the right to further training if their job description changes due to digitization. And one has to say: We have job security. There are no redundancies for operational reasons. That makes it easier to embrace change.
You are looking for 3,400 new trainees by September. Will it be easy?
We have many applicants, but we have to make an effort.
We visit schools, are at trade fairs, offer internships, invite you to open castings ...
How do you perceive the young people?
Many lack orientation. Some don't know what they can do, what can be done with their talents, others how to apply or what to wear for an interview. We have put small info films on the Internet. And of course there are also girls and boys who are not yet ready for training. With the Chance Plus program, we try to prepare them for training for a year.
Is it true that your German and math skills are getting worse and worse?
We don't look at school grades.
Not at all?
We have found that we cannot rely on grades. We know how it can sometimes be in school, how much one's own mood or a teacher can influence grades. Applicants are required to provide a certificate so we can see they have a degree and pass our own online test. Among other things, it's about arithmetic and logical thinking, but also about perseverance and motivation - always tailored to the job someone is interested in.
Applicants don't necessarily have to send us a cover letter. Instead, we are cooperating with the Berlin start-up Jobufo, through which applicants use their app to send us a 30-second video of themselves. This is how we experience young people - and they grew up with selfies and videos.
Kerstin Wagner, born in Riedlingen in 1970, is head of the personnel recruitment department at Deutsche Bahn. She studied business administration in Reutlingen and Reims. In 1995 she started at Siemens, where she performed various HR functions that took her to Boston (USA), among others. From 2003 onwards, Wagner built up the Placement and Recruiting Services division and in this context managed the internal transfer companies and the internal temporary employment agency. Wagner has been with Deutsche Bahn since 2012. With more than 195,000 employees nationwide, the group is one of the largest employers in Germany and the company with the most employees in Berlin.
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