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Corporate practices: in Kaluga, Russia, Volkswagen is training its own apprentices

Lack of skilled workers.  170 kilometers south west of Moscow, at the gates of the city of Kaluga, is a 400-ha production site, Volkswagen Group Rus, Volkswagen’s Russian subsidiary.  Created in 2006, the plant, which now employs 4,200 people, produces nearly 150,000 cars each year, including the Tiguan, the new Polo Sedan, as well as Skoda’s Fabia and Octavia.  As soon as it arrived in Russia, Volkswagen was faced with serious problems.  Russian consumers liked Volkswagen’s cars but they would rather buy cars assembled in Germany, not in Russia.  Therefore, the carmaker had to prove that it was able to reach the same level of quality in Russia.  Yet, like Russian businesses and other foreign firms, VW was faced with a major shortage of skilled workers.  The main reason is that the secondary education classes in Russia are very theoretical.  There is almost no practical training.  Another difficulty, affecting VW only: some relatively new trades, such as auto mechatronics engineer, are not even taught in Russia yet.  Like Knauf, Metro, Mercedes, Bosch and Siemens, the German group decided to a) invest into its staff’s continuous education and b) train its own apprentices, following the German dual training system.

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