Finding skilled persons such as CNC operators and other technical staff, is a big problem. There is a shortage of professionals and few young people are starting technical educations to solve that shortage. Since 2018 NTS Botech has worked with other companies and the ROC ter AA to train technical professionals in the De Peel region. Pierre Penninx, who is a practical trainer, tells us what these BBL courses look like, why this partnership was established and the initiatives of NTS Botech to inspire future technicians.
We want to get more pupils, students and companies enthusiastic for technical professions and courses in De Peel. This is our way to promote more and better trained technical professionals in our region.
Specialist CNC Milling at NTS Botech
NTS Botech is part of NTS and specializes in high precision stability solutions for products and machines in the semiconductor market and other sectors. To produce these components, large pieces of granite and steel are machined with extreme precision and high-quality flatness in the Helmond factory. Pierre Penninx is a CNC specialist and trainer at NTS Botech. He has over 30 years of experience in CNC turning and milling. As a trainer, he shares this knowledge and experience with colleagues who want to improve themselves and with newcomers.
"I have always continued to develop myself and learn. My interest is not in the commercial side or in becoming a manager, but in improving my skills and those of others. That is why I have been a practice trainer since I was 22. It was already part of my job at NTS Botech and for the past 3 years I have been working on behalf of NTS Botech at Techniekcentrum | Brainport." - Pierre Penninx
Techniekcentrum | Brainport (TC|B) is a partnership of technical companies in the region. These companies and ROC ter AA are working together to train more technicians in the De Peel region, to the east of Eindhoven. They offer various Apprenticeship Training (so-called BBL routes) both to students who have just finished secondary school and to persons who want to upskill and be a technician at a later age. The BBL routes are aimed at technologies such as machining and construction in which TC|B students can directly get to work. This vocational training is always combined with a workplace at one of the companies.
"The companies working together in the TC|B will jointly solve the shortage of technically trained personnel by pooling their practical trainers and knowledge. The BBL routes at TC|B are therefore different from a BBL route at the ROC or other traditional schools. TC|B students work three days at the companies for their practical experience and go to school two days a week . Half of the training days are used for theory and half for practice, which is a perfect combination. The theory classes are the bridge between theory and the work environment for our students. During the practical lessons they learn to use the latest technology and equipment. They can use what they learned at the internship company. So, this is different from the system of working four days and studying one day in other similar courses."
Practical training for technicians
Students will, just like in a normal situation, apply for a job at one of the companies in TC|B. Together with the ROC, the practical trainers make sure that training courses meet the legal requirements. This means that exams are the same as for other courses. On school days, the practical trainers are the links between theory and practice.
"But, it is a real practical training that gives students a lot of freedom, on the basis of trust and self-reliance. New students get a surprise when they find that they get to work right away and can operate a CNC machine. It is a great challenge to try for themselves, to make mistakes and ask when they need help. In a pleasant and informal atmosphere there is the support from trainers who have had years of practical experience."
Educating and training technical professionals
Students complete their course in one to one and a half years. In the regular school system it would take 3 years. Then of course it is possible to do a further study for a higher level or a new skill. TC|B also retrains and upskills people.
“Technology and machinery are constantly being developed, so even for persons who have done this work for thirty years there is something to learn. Groups consist of people of different age groups. Age differences sometimes lead to different opinions or insights, but the good thing that people can motivate each other. In that respect, this really is a place where everyone works together, companies and people."
Practical training is essential for the region and companies
TC|B was developed from a need felt by the companies. They want technically trained people. In addition to the shortage of technicians, they also observe a lack of innovation in the traditional training courses. The desired update of the technical education has been initiated with the support of the ROC, but NTS Botech is also committed to making future students enthusiastic.
Pierre and director Ronald van Mil regularly visit primary schools in the region to promote technology among the grade six and seven pupils. Another example is the buddy project with the local practical school. Who are the persons that NTS Botech and TC|B are looking for?
"We want to find students that have an interest in engineering and a certain drive to learn and work. Age is less important and the entry level differs per student. Students have different VMBO courses and can get exemptions where possible. This will be discussed during the intake interview and during the course."
Besides inspiring future students, NTS Botech is also working hard to find new companies that want to join TC|B and offer students a workplace or bring in new practical trainers. Would you like to know more about studying at or coaching students at Techniekcentrum Brainport? Find out what NTS Botech does for students (in Dutch), see our technical vacancies or go to the website of Techniekcentrum | Brainport for more information.