Mechanical engineering is not for girls

As a woman in mechanical engineering

5,000 vacancies for engineers - this is how the Association of German Mechanical and Plant Engineering (VDMA) assesses the current situation on the job market in its industry. Ascending trend. This much-cited shortage of skilled workers, which not only lies like a stone in the stomach of engineering in Germany, means for students and graduates in reverse conclusion: The best chances for a successful career start.

Carola Unterländer can only confirm this: »We see a high need for personnel in the engineering environment. Among other things, the fields of mechanical engineering, process engineering and electrical engineering will be of particular interest to us, ”says the head of personnel marketing and applicant management at Krones AG, manufacturer of beverage filling systems. Dr. Christiane Grunwald, Head of Personnel Recruitment and Support at Trumpf Machine Tools in Ditzingen, is looking for competent employees for her company. "Fortunately, the crisis in our area came to a relatively quick and clear end, so that we are practically going straight into the boom," explains the 46-year-old. "We need qualified specialists for this."

Getting young people excited about mechanical engineering at an early age!

Those responsible in the industry are aware that they have to act specifically to counteract the deficit of well-trained specialists. The VDMA has drawn up a catalog of measures for this, which is already applied at the school-university interface. "Young people have to be better prepared for their studies so that the high number of dropouts can be reduced in the future," says Ulrich Hermani, VDMA managing director responsible for Baden Württemberg.

“We also have to ensure that the didactic quality of teaching and the practical relevance of the course are improved.” A requirement that the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has already met, as Dr. Thomas Wagner, head of the study office of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, explains: »Contact with industry takes place very early in the course: On the one hand, the students have to complete an industrial internship, and on the other hand, there is the possibility of both Bachelor and Master theses in cooperation projects to be written with industrial partners. "

Dr. Christiane Grunwald von Trumpf: "Only if you know what areas of application there are, you can reconcile your knowledge and preferences with the appropriate area of ​​responsibility, and then be really good." Boris Wort, Head of the Human Resources department at Festo, sees this just like that. “We got to know many of our employees through internships, student traineeships and theses,” emphasizes the HR manager. Then he explains what his company is doing to keep the workforce that has been recruited: "We identify talents at an early stage and promote them individually through appropriate potential development measures." In order to further increase its attractiveness as an employer, Festo is increasingly investing in family-friendly measures and lacing attractive compensation packages. The gender aspect also plays a major role here.

More women in mechanical engineering

Dr. Thomas Wagner from TUM can already see an increased interest of young women in studying mechanical engineering. "In the past ten years, the proportion of female students in our faculty has more than doubled, and mechanical engineering has long ceased to be a purely male domain," the 44-year-old announced. "Perhaps that has to do with the fact that we have been offering bachelor's and master's degrees such as" Medical Technology "and" Mechanical Engineering and Management "for more than two years, which are particularly popular with our female students."

In addition to the technical know-how that mechanical engineering graduates bring with them, the industry could also benefit from a social competence that women are generally said to be particularly good at: communication skills. This is becoming more and more important, says Paul Kho, himself a mechanical engineer and head of the Technical Corporate Communication department at Festo. "On the job, I found that social skills are very important in communication, because engineers can do a lot technically, but often talk too little to one another or act ineffectively in writing," he explains. "Especially in times of interdisciplinarity of all technologies and the interweaving of business processes, it is important to constantly exchange ideas so that efficient discussions that accelerate project work can arise."

Social skills are especially important internationally!

Ulrich Hermani also sees this in a similar way to Paul Kho, who emphasizes that such communication processes are particularly important for the international level. “Intercultural skills should definitely be trained during the course of studies,” demands the managing director of the industry association, and continues: “It's not just about the language, but about being able to deal with the mentalities of people from other regions.” In In view of the growing importance of Asia for German mechanical and plant engineering, this requirement, which was also recently made in an official VDMA paper, is more than plausible.

In addition to the social skills, which should not be underestimated, it is of course the technical, mathematical and scientific skills that are crucial for a successful career in mechanical engineering - this is emphasized by both Boris Words and Dr. Thomas Wagner, as well as Dr. Christiane Grunwald and Ulrich Hermani. The VDMA representative is definitely convinced that the highly qualified young engineers will have a lot to do in the coming years after overcoming the worst crisis of the post-war period, because after all:

"German technology is simply in great demand all over the world!"