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North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is the center of the chemical industry in Germany. Research as well as training and continuing education are top in Europe. The quality of Germany's dual training system is the envy of the world. Practical work in conjunction with vocational elements equips apprentices for their chosen occupation. It is always about adapting to the requirements of companies and providing practical training.
With around 100,000 workers and employees (2011), the chemical industry in NRW is one of the largest employment sectors. Traditionally, the level of employee training is world-class. The companies at the chemical sites in the Ruhr area place great importance upon continuous training and continuous education– for safety as well as economic reasons.
The Marl Chemical Park alone trains far more people than needed for its own requirements in all disciplines. At around 9 per cent (2010), the training quota is far above the average for the German chemical industry (5.1. per cent). Practical work is therefore held in high esteem in companies as well as in vocational colleges.
Furthermore, the Marl Chemical Competence Center (ChemKom) offers seminars, in which individual areas of interest can be worked through in depth. This is aimed to people in companies, colleges and institutions in the region in particular, via a qualified range of training and further training in science and technology. The spectrum is as varied as the target group. This ranges from kindergarten teachers, who wish to explore the adventure of chemistry with their pupils, to highly specialist experts in a company, who wish to train further in automation electronics, for example.
In the “Emscher-Lippe combined training”, again strong company partners in the region, supported by the employers’ association, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) and the industrial union for mining, chemicals and energy, seek to further enhance the training spectrum. In the training associations, a broad range of training is therefore available in the scientific, technical and commercial fields.
As a partner to business, the North Westphalian Chamber of Commerce alone supports 30,000 training relationships in almost 150 occupations, and is responsible for assessment and approval of 20,000 interim and final examinations per year, complemented by an extensive further training spectrum.
There is also a close relationship with universities: The Technical University of Dortmund and the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences started a Master’s degree course in polymer science in the winter 2007 semester. The students are given scientific as well as process-technology knowledge – as it is this very factor that is important for many companies in the region. Highly motivated and qualified workforces are therefore available at all times.
The enthusiasm for chemistry and scientific / technical topics should be encouraged at pre-school age. There are many initiatives in the Ruhr area which can be introduced to the "little researchers” in Kindergartens in a fun way. However, interest in science and technology should be stimulated to school pupils in particular. An example of this is the MINT.Marl zdi-Center, which was opened in 2009. It pulls together schools, universities, companies and political organizations in the region, to motivate pupils as early as possible in key subjects (mathematics, engineering, science and technology). Fixed and traveling offerings have been developed, which in the future will be open to all schools pursuing it in the town of Marl from the eighth grade. The range offered by the MINT.Marl zdi-Center includes the topics of bionics, chemistry, digital technology and robotics. Students carry out experiments in work groups and teaching projects. For example, they study energy savings, airplane and rocket models, research the everyday use of chemistry and program robots.
Furthermore, NRW has the densest network of universities and research institutions in Europe. This environment is optimal for application-oriented research, cooperation with scientific institutions and company start-ups. The figures speak for themselves: In 92 chemistry courses, universities in NRW train one third of all chemists and almost half of all chemical engineers in Germany. 54 institutions, including eleven of the Max-Planck training associations, as well as 63 technology centers, cover a broad scientific spectrum. This ranges from basic research to bioinorganic and environmental chemistry. North Rhine-Westphalia is also one of the top biotechnology regions at an international level.
Marl Chemical Competence Center (Chemkom)
Infracor GmbH (vocational training)
North Westphalia Chamber of Industry and Commerce
University of Duisburg-Essen
Ruhr university Bochum
Technical University Dortmund
Westphalian University of Applied Sciences
Dortmund University of Applied Sciences
Bochum University of Applied Sciences
Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences
University of Applied Sciences for Economics & Management