Apprenticing at Doppelmayr Part 2: A Win-Win (Everybody Gains)

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The Doppelmayr apprentices' workshop in 2014

The Doppelmayr apprentices’ workshop in 2014

Recently we reported Doppelmayr’s contracts to construct new ropeways of record-breaking lengths and heights. Before that, we wrote about the company’s apprenticeship program. According to Ekkehard Assmann, Doppelmayr’s Head of Marketing and Public Relations, the two stories are more closely related than you may think. He attributes much of Doppelmayr’s recent successes and wins to the quality of all the members of its teams, and “many of our senior employees have come directly out of the apprenticeship program, starting as junior members.”

This past September, Doppelmayr announced the launch of their latest apprenticeship program with a photo of 22 young men and women. That number seemed like a lot to us. “For Doppelmayr, it’s not a lot,” he says. “We’d say it’s just about right.”


Doppelmayr has a long history of apprenticeship. Indeed, the company founder Konrad Doppelmayr was himself apprenticed to the town blacksmith early in his career, and the company has been formally training young people ever since.

The original workshop in 1979.

The original workshop in 1979.

However, the modern program was born in 1979 with the creation of an apprentices-only workshop. Before then, apprentices were trained on the factory floor, an arrangement which created its own set of challenges.

Just 9 new employees inaugurated that workshop, beginning their apprenticeships and careers with the company. 25 years later, that number had risen to a total 50 apprentices. Today Doppelmayr is training 92 apprentices.


After extended months of gaining skills and confidence, trainees are paired with skilled workers in assorted departments. They are regularly moved around to acquire other skills and training. By their fourth year, they will have chosen a specialty.

Of course, since 1979 when the workshop was opened, advances in technology have continually changed the nature of the training within it. Consider all the almost innumerable innovations in steel construction, metal and electrical engineering, plant and industrial technology, and of course computerization.

“25 years ago, production was very conventional,” recalls Georg Dür, the head of Doppelmayr’s apprenticeship department. “With new technology the teaching job has become more sophisticated, challenging and extensive. The knowledge and skills demanded of apprentices is much greater now.”


Apprentices receive first-rate training, in strict accordance with Austria’s educational standards. Indeed, all of Doppelmayr’s electrical and metalworking instructors have qualifications from the Vorarlberg Economic Chamber and Chamber of Labor. (They also all began their careers at Doppelmayr.) Since 1997, Doppelmayr has continually been awarded “Apprentice Excellence,” a 3-year title recognizing companies in the Ausrian state of Vorarlberg with top standards in training.

The entire program is designed to educate the apprentices in the fields of mechanical and electrical engineering, but with a specialization in ropeway production. Dür says he is always looking to improve the program and maximize all the apprentices’ work experience with the company. “We take pride in helping each apprentice achieve their training goals with top marks.”

To accomplish those goals (the apprentices’ and his own) Dür inserts himself deeply into the students’ experiences. “I am the contact person for all kinds of schools, especially those providing vocational education, but also special interest groups for the local economy, like job fairs.” Reminding us how young the students, he says “I am also in contact with parents.”

Dür says apprenticing realizes a big return on investment for Doppelmayr and for himself. “Teaching keeps you on your toes. You need to remain relevant in our fast-changing world. Young people are so keen and show us a lot.” He says that teaching apprentices has helped keep him feeling younger too.

“I’m always impressed with what young people are able to achieve. They manage their schooling and private lives with family time, sports, volunteerism and the like. And they do it all with such positivity.”



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