Interview Poland: Third path to success

| Author / Editor: Agata Świderska / Susanne Hertenberger

According to the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development, nearly 3/4 of entrepreneurs have difficulties finding well-qualified employees. The solution may be to build such an educational system that combines theoretical and practical knowledge.

In the educational model focused on practice, theory lays the grounds for developing specific skills
In the educational model focused on practice, theory lays the grounds for developing specific skills
(Bild: goodluz - Fotolia)

The issue has two sides: Polish schools are still targeted at theoretical education, while entrepreneurs are still not convinced about cooperating with educational institutions. Whereas only effective cooperation aimed at developing the ‘education through practice’ model can permanently change this situation, providing benefits to all three sides: students, schools and entrepreneurs.

This model of cooperation is being introduced into Polish reality by Manfred Wanzke – owner of the German company Wanzke Umformtechnologie GmbH. In December 2015, he signed the cooperation agreement with the Opole University of Technology regarding mutual scientific and research endeavors as well as organizing practical trainings and internships for students and graduates of the University.

We had an opportunity to talk to professor Manfred Wanzke about the idea behind this cooperation and differences in specialists’ training in Poland and Germany, during the ceremony of granting him the title of honorary professor of the Opole University of Technology.

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We meet in exceptional circumstances: last December, you signed a cooperation agreement with Opole University of Technology, and today you are celebrating receiving the title of Honorary Professor. Why did a German entrepreneur decide to cooperate with a Polish university?

Manfred Wanzke: Even though I moved to Germany after the war, my roots are here – in Silesia. I have always felt a strong connection with this region. However, I did not think that I would be able to play an active part in its development. I came up with this concept rather unexpectedly, following my conversations with Sabine Haake – the German Consul in Opole, who convinced me that considering the intensive development of science and industry in Opolian Silesia, it is the best time to initiate such cooperation. I also talked to the Vice Chancellor of Opole University of Technology – Marek Tukiendorf, who outlined its scope. It was the exchange of views on the opportunities for development of industrial education in the region – followed by my visits at nearby production facilities – that became the basis for the formulation of a joint concept of cooperation between Wanzke Umformtechnologie GmbH and the University in Opole.

What will this cooperation concern?

We want to create a Polish and German platform for the exchange of knowledge on plastic forming – a discipline in which there is still a shortage of appropriate educational materials, both here in Silesia and in other Polish regions. When I talked to the presidents of local companies, they complained about the lack of experts in this field. We intend to provide them with such experts. What’s more, we want to educate them well enough and universally enough so that they have a chance to establish themselves not only on the local, but also on the Polish and European market.

It is hard to believe that these days there are still disciplines which experience shortage of specialised staff. What makes plastic forming such a difficult discipline?

Unlike drilling, turning and milling, plastic forming is difficult to measure. While it is possible to calculate process parameters, production times and unit costs of finished products with high precision, up to two decimal places, for the former disciplines, in the case of plastic forming, success basically depends on specialist knowledge and experience, which one cannot learn from books.

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