A foundry technician's everyday life typically takes place in a high-tech production environment at iron and metal foundries, where you will cast many different products such as ship propellers, aluminum chassis for motorcycles or gearboxes for trucks – using CAD programs and CNC programming, among other things.


BIRN takes responsibility for training the foundry technicians of the future

BIRN is one of Northern Europe's largest foundries, and with roots dating back to 1896, the company has a long-standing and very solid foundry tradition. BIRN has therefore also been one of the driving forces in re-establishing foundry technician training in Denmark, and in 2021 the company succeeded in doing so in close collaboration with UC Holstebro, among others. BIRN has around eight foundry technician apprentices at a time, says Kurt Bjarne Larsen, foundry technical manager and responsible for foundry technician apprentices at BIRN:

- We need skilled labor in the foundry, and we are looking at a fairly large generational shift with a high average age in the foundry technician profession over the coming years. We therefore have a great responsibility to attract new and younger employees who can build on top of the more experienced forces. We are very proud to have helped build up the training program in Denmark and to offer a very structured training plan for the apprentices we have at BIRN. They first get a tour of all departments in the foundry to get a good overall impression and a good all-round knowledge of the profession. Subsequently, they go more in-depth with specific parts of the foundry work, he explains.

Popular morning meetings for apprentices 
At BIRN, a lot of effort is put into giving the apprentices a good understanding of the many different processes in casting, so it becomes clear to them why each step is important. At the same time, the apprentices must also feel that they are an active and important part of the company's daily life. That's why Kurt Bjarne Larsen has introduced bi-weekly morning meetings for apprentices only, where he gives them a slightly deeper professional insight into technical issues or general knowledge sharing on foundry technology topics. An initiative that the apprentices are very enthusiastic about, explains Kurt Bjarne Larsen:

- I've seen several times that even apprentices who had the day off actually show up for the morning meeting anyway. My impression is that the meeting is a really good forum to get a more thorough explanation of how we have solved a particular technical challenge and how to approach it in the future, he explains. 

What our foundry technician apprentices say

From apprentice to permanent employee 
The vast majority of BIRN's foundry technician apprentices are adult apprentices and thus over 25 years old. This is attractive both for BIRN as a company and for the individual apprentices, partly because the apprentices come with a lot of experience before they train, and because as an apprentice you become a permanent part of the day shift. In addition, BIRN aims to retain apprentices as skilled employees once they have completed the foundry technician training, if possible. 

- Of course, training apprentices is resource-intensive, but it's resources well spent if we can create our own food chain of future employees who are both qualified and motivated. Many of our apprentices have often started as unskilled workers in our production. This has typically given them an interest in the profession and a desire to learn more, and when they can see that they won't see a pay cut by taking an education, it's not a long way from unskilled to student and apprentice, says Kurt Bjarne Larsen.

Innovative Apprenticeship of the Year
BIRN regularly facilitates visits to other foundries or suppliers both at home and abroad so that apprentices can see for themselves where the raw materials come from. They can also attend training courses at machine manufacturers to learn how to produce with the machines used at BIRN. BIRN also participates in the foundry industry's apprentice exchange program, where foundries throughout Denmark exchange apprentices with each other for a week every year. 

- The foundry industry in Denmark is generally aware of our own responsibility to train apprentices and thus the workforce of the future. For example, the various foundries contribute teaching staff to the training program, where specialist teachers are made available at the schools. BIRN is located just 500 meters from the school in Holstebro, so it's very easy for us to contribute with everything from equipment and teachers to guided tours for students. In 2022, we were also named Innovative Apprenticeship of the Year by UC Holstebro and came second nationally. Apprentices nominate and vote for the award, so it's a great recognition of us as an apprenticeship and an award we are very proud of, says Kurt Bjarne Larsen.