The provision of initial and in-service training to the highest standards across the Volkswagen Group is crucial to ensuring outstanding skills among our employees and underpins our enduring success. The systematic training and development of Volkswagen Group employees is based on the concept of “Berufsfamilien” (professional families). A “Berufsfamilie” includes all employees with shared expertise whose jobs require related skills. The Berufsfamilie is, therefore, the specialist “home” of every individual employee within the Group, from apprentices right up to senior experts, and the skills requirements of each Berufsfamilie determine individuals’ qualification needs. In almost all brands and companies, these needs are identified at least once a year in the individual employee or skills appraisal. Learning and teaching in Berufsfamilien follow the dual model of vocational education and training, in which theory and practice are closely intertwined.

Qualification within the Berufsfamilien

Qualification within Volkswagen’s 36 Berufsfamilien currently takes place within 13 Berufsfamilie “Academies”, which coordinate learning across brands and sites. They are grouped under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group Academy, whose aim is to leverage synergies and ensure an outstanding level of qualification across the Group.

Vocational Education and Training in Line with the Dual Model

The dual model of vocational education and training, with its close integration of theory and practice, forms the basis for outstanding performance to the high skills and quality standards that the Volkswagen Group demands. The German Chamber of Commerce and Industry recognized the achievements of Volkswagen apprentices in 2015, with apprentices from the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand alone winning 104 individual Chamber awards, 13 awards at federal state level and five at national level.

From their very first day, our apprentices are trained within a Berufsfamilie. The apprentices alternate regularly between blocks of classroom learning in a vocational school, periods in a training center, and a range of assignments within a plant. This ensures that they have the best possible preparation for their future employment within the relevant Berufsfamilie. Each year, Volkswagen AG invites school students to hands-on experience days. Apprentices and trainers brief them on what is involved in the various technical and commercial training professions and dual apprenticeships offered by Volkswagen. In 2015, hands-on experience days were held in Wolfsburg, Hanover, Braunschweig, Kassel, Emden and Salzgitter. Similar information events were also organized by other brands, including Audi, MAN, Scania and Porsche.

At the start of the 2015 training year, Porsche opened a new training center at its headquarters in Zuffenhausen, marking a long-term investment in the quality of the skills development and training it provides for its employees.

Dual Vocational Education and Training Goes Global

The Volkswagen Group takes its responsibility for the next generation seriously. In December 2015, the Group was training 18,651 apprentices and students around the world in some 60 training professions and 50 dual apprenticeships. In recent years, the Group has rolled out the dual model of vocational education and training in many sites outside Germany and is continually improving its provision. In 2015, Volkswagen do Brasil made preparations to introduce a three-year vehicle mechatronic technician apprenticeship based on German standards, to begin in 2016. When the construction of new factories – such as Audi’s Mexican plant in San José Chiapa – is at the planning stage, dual training is included in the process right from the start. Over three-quarters of all the Group’s apprentices learn their trade through dual vocational training. Further measures were taken in 2015 to roll out dual vocational training models in China.

Once a year, Volkswagen honors its highest-achieving vocational trainees across the Group with the “Best Apprentice Award”. In 2015, 12 young women and 33 young men at a total of 40 Group sites received this award for their outstanding performance and expertise in their fields.

The “Volkswagen Group Charter on Vocational Education and Training”, adopted in June 2015, demonstrates the high value Volkswagen places on education and training. The Charter covers basic issues such as the selection process for apprentices, the duration and quality of vocational education and training, the tools and infrastructure available for delivering training content, and the transition to post-apprenticeship employment.

Tomorrow’s World of Work

The Volkswagen Group in Germany is taking the lead in modernizing the training professions and spearheading the digitization of the world of work. Experts from Volkswagen have joined forces with their counterparts in Germany’s Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) to assess where the profiles of the different professions need amending and to formulate proposals for the future orientation of vocational education and training – initially in Germany, and subsequently on an international level. In 2015, the focus was on developing a joint activity profile for maintenance technicians that reflects changing skills requirements.

These initiatives form part of our ongoing modernization of vocational education and training. This includes the development of innovative learning formats for vocational training at Volkswagen and mobile learning with tablet computers, which Audi rolled out as a pilot project in 2015, first in Germany and later at its sites in Györ and Brussels.

Vocational Education and Training Projects

Vehicle projects

The vehicle projects presented by apprentices at the GTI Meet at Wörthersee are typical of the high-quality, practice-based vocational training provided at Volkswagen. Since 2008, top apprentices from Volkswagen and Sitech Sitztechnik, the seating technology company, have had the opportunity to showcase and enhance their skills, creativity and teamwork at the GTI Meet. From the initial idea to the global launch of the Golf GTI Dark Shine in May 2015, the four women and nine men worked as a close-knit team. Apprentice body-shop paint technicians, vehicle interior finishers, vehicle mechatronic technicians, media designers and process mechanics for plastic and rubber technology planned and carried out virtually every stage of the work themselves, cooperating with experts from a range of Berufsfamilien and acquiring substantial skills and expertise along the way.

Fourteen young trainees from Volkswagen Sachsen and 23 apprentices from the ŠKODA plant at Mladá Boleslav had a similar opportunity when they presented their own vehicle projects – the Golf Variant Biturbo Edition and the ŠKODA FUNstar – at the 34th GTI Meet.


In June 2015, the Volkswagen “MoWaApp” (“most wanted application”) apprentice team won the national final of “Jugend gründet”, a business plan competition in Germany that enables students and apprentices to showcase and enhance their entrepreneurial skills. The Volkswagen apprentices’ winning entry was a business plan for a “quick-save” shopping app. The app enables supermarket shoppers to search local stores for special offers and compiles shopping lists as well as calculating the total cost of the items, including travel expenses and estimated travel time to the store.

Foto: "MoWaApp" gewinnt Bundesfinale von "Jugend gründet"

Exhibition project

Also in June 2015, 20 Volkswagen apprentices had the opportunity to work with celebrated artist Michael Beutler on his “Moby Dick” exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof museum in Berlin. Working directly alongside an artist was an entirely new experience for most of the 18- to 22-year olds. The exhibition project forms part of a partnership extending back over several years between Volkswagen and the Berlin National Gallery, which is integral to the Company’s commitment to international culture.


The Volkswagen Group’s commitment to the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum is recognized around the world. Six times a year, groups of Volkswagen AG apprentices travel to Auschwitz to spend two weeks working with young Poles at the Memorial and Museum; since 2012, apprentices from subsidiaries and affiliated companies have also been involved in the program. Some 2,700 young Germans and Poles have taken part in this program over the past 27 years. This involvement fosters responsibility and develops apprentices’ powers of judgment, tolerance and openness to different cultures. Since 2008, managers, management candidates and “Meister” (group leaders) have also been involved.

With their joint project “Dual Education System Italy” (DESI), Audi subsidiaries Lamborghini and Ducati place special emphasis on vocational training as part of their corporate social responsibility. In collaboration with the Volkswagen Employees’ Foundation, the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, and the Ministry of Education of the Emilia Romagna region, DESI has developed a dual training model for young Italians, most of them from socially disadvantaged families.

In-Service Training for Young Skilled Workers

Young skilled workers benefit from training through the dual system, during which they are supported by more experienced colleagues. This model for learning in tandem is vital: the best way of passing on knowledge and experience is face to face.

Particularly talented apprentices are supported through “Talent Groups”. This two-year training and development program recruits the best 10% of apprentices from each year’s intake within Volkswagen AG and at Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH in Zwickau. The emphasis of the program is on promoting technical excellence and individual development for all participants.

On completion of their training, an initiative known as the “Wanderjahre” (years abroad) program offers young people at the start of their career the opportunity to spend 12 months working for a Group company outside their home country. The program’s name alludes to the tradition among newly-qualified craftsmen of traveling the world and gaining experience. A total of 38 Volkswagen Group sites in 17 countries took part in this development program in the reporting year, with Porsche AG and Sitech GmbH becoming involved for the first time. In 2015, 59 participants from Germany and 18 from nine other countries began the Wanderjahre program in the Volkswagen Group.

Fostering Graduates

Volkswagen recruits and fosters young graduates through two programs, the Student Talent Bank and the Academic Talent Pool. Volkswagen uses the Student Talent Bank to bring on particularly able students in workplace-related and cross-functional areas. The aim is to boost these former interns’ commitment to the Company and give them the best possible preparation for embarking on a career with Volkswagen.

Seminars on presentation and communication skills and on self, time and stress management enable students to broaden their interpersonal and business skills, while talks by specialists, excursions to trade fairs and visits to other Volkswagen sites enhance their technical knowledge and their familiarity with the world of Volkswagen. The program coordinators provide Student Talent Bank participants with ongoing support and one-to-one supervision, while a mentor from their field is on hand to answer specialist questions. Talent Bank participants also receive support with finding a further placement in Germany or abroad, or a location in which to complete their dissertation.

Shortly before they graduate or complete their doctorate, talented students are moved into the Academic Talent Pool. The program enables talented young students who have already proved themselves and demonstrated their abilities through an internship, dissertation or doctoral study at Volkswagen to raise their profile within the Company and boost their chances of being considered for a job in one of the Company’s specialist areas. Conversely the specialist areas are able to recruit from a wider pool of skilled and motivated applicants. A regular newsletter keeps Pool members in touch with the latest news and developments across Volkswagen.

Volkswagen offers university graduates two structured trainee programs for finding employment in the Company: StartUp Direct and StartUp Cross. In addition to working in their own department, trainees in the StartUp Direct program get a good overview of the Company and attend additional skills development courses over a two-year period. University graduates interested in working internationally can take part in the 18-month StartUp Cross program. Over this period, they get to know Volkswagen as an organic whole and build networks through assignments in a variety of specialist areas throughout the value chain. They also broaden their knowledge and experience at different Volkswagen Passenger Cars sites at home and abroad. Both programs also require trainees to spend several weeks in production. Volkswagen took on 346 trainees under the two programs in 2015; around 30% of them were women.

Trainee programs are also offered at the international Group sites, such as at ŠKODA in the Czech Republic and Scania in Sweden. In addition, since 2012 the Volkswagen Group’s StartUp Europe trainee program has offered young engineers from Southern Europe an opportunity to gain international work experience. This Volkswagen program is designed to attract international talent and targets graduates from Italy, Spain and Portugal. Three months at a foreign subsidiary are followed by 21 months at a Group company in Germany. Participants may be offered permanent positions after the two-year program – 22 promising young engineers were taken on in 2015.

With support from Volkswagen, in 2015 seven German and Dutch university teams entered the international Formula Student Germany competition at the famous Hockenheimring circuit with a racing car they had developed themselves. The teams supported by Volkswagen included almost 400 students from disciplines including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and business engineering. Volkswagen experts offered their support and the Company provided the teams with a solid financial foundation for their work.

Wide Range of Qualification Programs

The Volkswagen Group offers its employees a wide range of qualification programs. Along with general training, these also include specialist qualifications developed and delivered through the Berufsfamilien Academies in particular. In 2015, employees benefited from more than 83,000 qualification programs across the Volkswagen Group, representing over 10.7 million participant hours. The range of programs is constantly updated to ensure it continues to reflect the Group’s current training needs. More than 520 new training initiatives and programs were introduced across the Volkswagen brand alone during the reporting year. In 2015, Group sites in China placed particular emphasis on training their employees in the field of electric mobility, especially high-voltage technology.

Standards for Personnel Development in Leadership and Management

2015 saw standards for personnel development in leadership and management being harmonized virtually across the Group. Within Volkswagen Passenger Cars in Germany alone, more than 210 leadership, Meister (group leader) and management qualification programs, including assessment centers, were held in 2015. Outside Germany, the Volkswagen Group Academy ran a total of some 75 qualification programs and assessment centers for leaders, group leaders and managers in Argentina, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, India, Ireland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA. In 2015, a number of other sites and brands were also certified to run their own qualification and selection events for future leaders and managers.

Since October 2015, managers from commercial vehicle brands MAN, MAN Latin America, Scania and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles have for the first time been following the English-language International Leadership Program, iLead. As well as developing participants’ skills, the iLead program also promotes understanding and networking between the different commercial vehicle brands.

Training the Trainers

In 2015, we expanded our cross-site and cross-brand qualification of trainers responsible for delivering our programs for leaders, group leaders and managers, as well as of assessment center moderators. This enables us to ensure comparable quality across the Group. The Volkswagen Group Academy International Campus 2015 initiative focused on in-service training and international exchanges between 42 skilled trainers and moderators across six brands and 13 countries.

Academic In-Service Training

Under the auspices of the Volkswagen Group Academy, AutoUni provides a source of specialist academic knowledge. Its role is to improve professional quality within the Volkswagen Berufsfamilien and to promote networking between experts. It has nine institutes and works with the Berufsfamilien Academies and partner universities to provide training for the Group’s experts and top specialists.

Its wide range of in-service training formats also ensures that the wealth of knowledge held within the Group, at universities and by private sector experts is passed on and new knowledge generated. In 2015, in-service training formats were developed in the areas of sustainability, electric mobility and production electrification. In collaboration with Stanford University, an online course on materials is also now available to experts across the Group.

AutoUni, which is based in Wolfsburg, has also made its courses available outside Germany. In 2015, for example, its work was extended to Group sites including Puebla (Mexico), Beijing (China), Crewe (United Kingdom), and Györ (Hungary). In 2015, around 8,000 people took part in more than 150 AutoUni courses. AutoUni also supplies more than 750 internal and external speakers each year, almost one third of them from the automotive engineering sector.

Networking Academic Knowledge

AutoUni cooperates with internationally renowned universities, institutes and research centers on numerous research projects, dissertations and theses. At the end of 2015, more than 530 doctoral students were engaged in research at the various Volkswagen Group companies in Germany, investigating forward-looking Company-related issues. AutoUni supports doctoral students through a program of seminars, while its doctoral colloquiums offer them the opportunity to present their work in progress to a Group-wide audience.

AutoUni advises and supports the Volkswagen Group in identifying appropriate academic partners from within research and teaching. It networks the individuals responsible for university contacts within the Group to create synergies between brands and companies and to ensure that processes are consistent. AutoUni also coordinates international academic cooperation across the Volkswagen Group, which currently has more than 2,000 national and international cooperation agreements with universities, universities of applied sciences and research institutes around the world.

To provide impetus for basic research in the area of storage technology, the international “Science Award Electrochemistry” was again presented by Volkswagen and BASF in 2015. The ceremony was held in Tokyo. The award went to Dr. Bryan McCloskey of the University of California, Berkeley, USA, in recognition of his outstanding research findings in the area of lithium-air batteries.

Knowledge Campaign on Digitalization

Business can remain viable in the long term only if it anticipates new professions, qualifications and working methods. In 2015, Volkswagen developed the “Good Work at Factory 4.0” concept, which it presented at an international conference of experts held during the Hanover Trade Fair. Underpinning the concept is work that will foster skills and have a positive impact on employees’ health in the highly automated factories of the future. Volkswagen aims to automate an increasing number of stressful or repetitive jobs in the coming years, in particular using cooperating lightweight robots. At the same time, we intend to upgrade the remaining shop floor jobs. This concept is also a response to demographic change, which will limit the availability of qualified skilled labor in the coming years. To facilitate these changes, Volkswagen launched its “Knowledge Campaign on Digitalization” in May 2015. The campaign is initially aimed at employees of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars and Commercial Vehicles brands in Germany and equips them with a basic understanding of digitization.

In the first phase, participants use the intranet to learn about the subject through short films and educational quizzes. During the second phase, they are able to attend events in different business areas, where they experience the use of new technologies. Programs leading to occupation-specific qualifications in Volkswagen’s Berufsfamilien form the third phase. The cross-brand and international roll-out of the Knowledge Campaign on Digitalization took place at the end of 2015.