Wila aims to attract people to crafts

Wila has had a good start this year. The team behind Silkeborg’s apprentice network, of which Wila is a part, has been awarded the Silkeborg Business Needle. Tom Jensen is involved in the network and the important work that is being done to attract people to crafts.

When Tom Jensen was young he was an apprentice with the local farming and construction blacksmith. Later on he became a boilermaker and also took an interest in AutoCAD, went on to become involved in projects in Germany and was what he calls a mini-project manager and then a project manager and responsible for various machines. All of this happened before he joined Wila where he is employed as a quality manager and is also responsible for the company’s apprentices.

Tom’s story is not only about using a craftsman’s background as a basis for your career. It is an example that shows what you can achieve if you opt for this type of training.

Pride and career opportunities

It is important to Tom that young people get a feel of what they can do if they have the courage, if they are really interested and if they dare to stick their noses out. This is something that Wila and the team behind Silkeborg’s Apprentice Network focus on. The network includes the local area’s apprentices from various crafts.

“The apprentice network provides the opportunity for making people understand and take an interest in the various different crafts. The young people meet one another and get an insight into one another’s crafts and in this way get the feeling that there are others who are into crafts. This makes them pleased with and proud of their crafts; they talk enthusiastically about their crafts and share things on social media where they relate their stories and express the feeling that they’re pleased with what they’re doing,” says Tom Jensen.

Today Wila has six apprentices and five members of staff who started out as apprentices. They are an important part of the company and their employment tells us much about the opportunities that you have as an apprentice with a large company. And the fact that it is possible to focus on the many opportunities that you have as an apprentice is the reason that Wila has joined the team behind Silkeborg’s Apprentice Network, which has now been awarded the Silkeborg Needle. Wila plans to keep being involved in the team.

Not professions for stupid people

The fact that there is a lack of craftsmen and that it is difficult for Danish industrial companies to attract labour is no secret and it makes the effort to attract apprentices particularly important.

“It’s common today that people believe that crafts are for stupid people. But this is very wrong. Today it takes quite a lot to become a boilermaker or a machine operator. You need to be good at maths and languages and you have to be able to understand the 3D drawings on which you base your work. You also have to be able to work as a part of a team – something which young people are skilled at today,” says Tom Jensen.  

As an apprentice with Wila you are quickly challenged and asked to handle assignments. You are met with expectations, but you are also given a great deal of advice. Individual apprentices have their own team leader, and all of the apprentices get to work in our various departments.

An important societal task

One of the reasons that the team behind Silkeborg’s Apprentice Network has been awarded the Silkeborg Business Needle is that the companies take an interest in young people and their training by means of the network.

This is completely in keeping with Wila’s culture; the company also takes part in the initiative ‘Smart Hands’ where 7th graders visit companies and go on a ‘Company Safari’ where Wila and other companies invite school teachers and careers teachers to join them.

“Naturally, we’ve an interest in turning the tide where young people aren’t inclined to become craftsmen. But it’s also about societal responsibility,” says Tom Jensen and adds:

“Today it’s important to train yourself so you can get a job. And it’s obvious that, if we succeed in attracting young people who become pleased with being craftsmen, then we have helped them get a good life that they can manage themselves. I really enjoy being responsible for our apprentices when I see young people begin working here in our company where they aren’t very confident and then end up seeing them grow and become happy.”

On the picture (from the left) Tom Jensen, Magnus Pedersen (apprentice), Bo Søndergaard (apprentice), Liam Hansen (apprentice) and Sune Hvid Kristensen (apprentice) – missing on the picture: Jacob Overgaard (apprentice) and Patrick Gabel (apprentice).

“At Wila A/S, we have a dedicated and skilled staff who perform all tasks with common sense, great professional pride and expertise”