On normal days, Frank Hansen’s colleagues receive around 1,000 samples. They come from food and feed manufacturers, retail chains, engineering offices or municipal utilities that have raw materials or water samples examined by the Kiel-based company Agrolab Agriculture and Environment. The trainees, for whom Hansen is responsible as training manager, also take care of some of these samples.
The company, which belongs to the Agrolab laboratory group with more than 20 locations in Europe, trains an average of twelve young people per year to be chemical laboratory technicians – and in the Personal-Financial.com study, the company excels in their support. Soon the number of apprentices will increase to 20. Because the need for laboratory analysis in the environmental sector is growing, for example in the construction sector, where material has to be examined for asbestos. Agrolab has therefore just expanded its two locations in Kiel. The current 380 employees are expected to grow to 500.
The company also wants to fill some of these positions with its own junior staff. You can take on almost all trainees who want that, says Hansen’s colleague Stephanie Nagorny, site manager at Agrolab LUFA, which is responsible for food and feed analyzes in the laboratory network.
In fact, the Agrolab trainees can later be used widely: in three and a half years, they go through nine different areas for four months each – from feed to water analysis, where they also work with real samples. Those with an average grade of at least 2.5 can finish their training after three years – just like almost the entire youngest class, as training manager Hansen proudly reports.
If you ask Hansen which young people are interested in a laboratory job, he says: “You have to have an inclination to chemistry and the natural sciences.” In recent years, for example, the number of applicants who have dropped out of chemistry studies because they prefer to have increased want to work practically. Occasionally, dropouts from the pharmaceutical sector are also among them.
It is somewhat more difficult, however, for applicants with a secondary school diploma. In some federal states, chemistry is no longer an independent subject, but only a natural science subject. Which teaching content is actually hidden behind it and what knowledge of chemistry such applicants have, sometimes only becomes apparent during the interview. In principle, however, the training can also be completed with a secondary school diploma, emphasizes site manager Nagorny. However, the majority of applicants are high school graduates. Most of them come from Schleswig-Holstein, some also from neighboring federal states.
The fact that many young people have been grappling with environmental issues at Fridays for Future or elsewhere for some time has not yet been reflected in the number of applicants at Agrolab Agriculture and Environment. However, there are still enough applicants, says training manager Hansen, and a shortage of skilled workers is not an issue for the company. That this is not just the case is also shown by the fact that Hansen and his colleague Nagorny cannot immediately say how many young people apply to them as trainees each year. Obviously enough.
Personal-Financial.com has Germany’s best trainers Awarded: For the fourth time, 510 German companies were honored in an extensive study – published in Personal-Financial.com issue 11/2020. Click here for the kiosk shop. You can find the complete results of the study here.