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A liking for heavy metal

One of our greatest accomplishments: VTG has created a very special apprenticeship program – RailTrain – that recruits very special people.

Young people looking for an apprenticeship usually find that a good school report, a secondary school or (preferably) high school leaving certificate, a confident manner and appropriate skills come in handy. That said, quite a few young people meet these requirements only to some extent or not at all when they start their career. Precisely these people are the focus of VTG’s RailTrain program. Launched in 2017, the inclusive training program seeks to introduce people to the world of work who would otherwise find it harder to do so. Good grades are not the most important thing for would-be construction mechanics keen to join the RailTrain program: Genuine motivation is the key requirement. “When we see candidates who can’t wait to get started – who are really up for the apprenticeship – well, that is what grabs our attention!” says Thomas Mombrei, head of the program, describing the candidate selection process.

More than just technical skills

But what is it that makes RailTrain so special? “We want to give our trainees a whole bundle of skills to get them started,” head instructor André Grote explains. “We attach great importance to an in-depth technical education, obviously: The youngsters learn practical skills at our training workshop on the premises of Blohm+Voss at the Port of Hamburg. But they also gain valuable practical experience at various locations, including assignments with cooperation partners such as the Port Museum Hamburg, our mobile service teams and the VTG Group’s maintenance workshops.” Yet the program also aims to go far beyond this technical content and the theory taught at vocational school: Alongside this curriculum, the apprentices also receive individual support to develop their social, language and general educational skills. So far, it has clearly been worth going the extra mile: Every one of the trainees from the first two intake years who weathered the highs and lows that an apprenticeship brings with it and who passed their final exams has also found a job, be it within the VTG Group or elsewhere.


"RailTrain sees careers as vocations. The whole team of trainers is thrilled about the program, because it is so desperately needed and so eminently useful. We give young people a tremendous opportunity. And it is great to see them rising to the challenge and developing excellently. VTG benefits as well, of course: We need well-trained specialists who are excited about their work!"

Thomas Mombrei, head of the VTG RailTrain program


Enthusiasm, dedication and staying power are what count

The ground-breaking inclusive apprenticeship model leaves room to recognize and appropriately respond to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual trainees. RailTrain thus proved to be the ideal training venue for Jolina Ferreira. Jolina discovered her passion for metalworking professions at an early age, and her motivation and huge dedication convinced the trainers right from day one. Even so, she initially had a hard time finding an apprenticeship – because she is deaf. “We are very happy with our decision to take on Jolina,” says an evidently happy Thomas Mombrei. “She is certainly on the same level as her colleagues. And with the aid of a few tools, the work routine runs smoothly for her, too.” Jolina uses an app to communicate with the instructors and the other trainees. If things get more complicated, a sign language interpreter comes into the workshop. A sensor in Jolina’s breast pocket warns her if a dangerous situation arises in the workshop. “Our hope is that examples such as Jolina’s will encourage more and more companies to employ people with disabilities. Day after day, Jolina enriches and complements our team,” Mombrei stresses, “as does every one of the trainees, whose enthusiasm contributes to the success of RailTrain.”


43 young men and women have started their apprenticeship at RailTrain since the VTG program was launched in 2017. Ten further trainees are due to begin the three-and-a-half-year course on September 1, 2022. To date, only six apprentices have had to end their training prematurely – an above-average outcome indeed!

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