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Simon Pelzer "successfully abandoned" his studies in favor of an IT specialist apprenticeship: "I wanted more practice."

Company and Culture

Study or practice? - Dual vocational training!


Why Simon Pelzer opted for dual vocational training

After school, a significant period of life comes to an end, and a new one begins right away with the mega-question: academic study or dual vocational training? Simon Pelzer, IT specialist for application technology at IKOR, knows from his own experience that you don't necessarily need a university degree to climb the career ladder.

Simon Pelzer was one of four trainees who started a three-year apprenticeship as an IT specialist for application development at IKOR in 2017. Although Simon, a top graduate in his high school, could have shortened the regular training period, he stuck with the three years. Simon and the other three newcomers started together as a sworn apprentice foursome and also wanted to finish the training together.

After successfully graduating, all four have remained at IKOR. The IT specialist cloverleaf still meets in their free time - and founded an alumni group: To pass on what they have learned and experienced. And to accompany new trainees on their training path with a lot of commitment, enthusiasm and know-how.

How to successfully drop out of a study

Before his vocational training, Simon had studied for a few semesters. First it was physics, then he changed his major to computer science. But the man from Lower Rhine didn't like that either: "Studying didn't suit me, I wanted more practice. But that was only offered to a limited extent at the university. So, I decided to do a dual vocational training program."

Simon Pelzer applied to various companies that offered dual vocational training: "Surprisingly, there was no response at all from some of them," he says looking back. Perhaps that was because the prospective IT specialist showed humor in his application letter: He revealed himself as someone who had "successfully abandoned his studies" and was now looking for a path in practice.

Ability to perform is typically a more sought-after skill set, relative to a sense of humor. However, IKOR is not your typical company and was one of the first potential employers to respond to Simon's application and invited the trainee aspirant to Oberhausen for an interview. They quickly agreed: "It's a good fit. "Three weeks later, the signed apprenticeship contract was in the mailbox, and Simon was able to celebrate Christmas and start the new year 2017 with an apprenticeship in his pocket.

Why support in training is so important

The four IKOR trainees of the class of 2017 quickly found each other. They received support from different sides during their training, especially when it came to learning. "I particularly liked that; it wasn't a repeat of my academic studies. And that was exactly what I had missed," says Simon. The training period was also a process of discovery: After a year's break, IKOR was once again training apprentices to become IT specialists for application technology. In addition to our standard training, content and programming instruction, new questions also had to be answered that were not included in the company training program. For example, how to better support a trainee whose native language is not German.

"We had a lot of fun in training, working together and learning to rely on one another“. What's more, we had a great training team. In the first year, this consisted of Kirsten Weidemann (business aspects) and a colleague from IT. In the second year of training, we were joined by other IKORians from IT, ABAP and Java development.

What the IT specialist training covers

In general, an IT specialist (m/f/d) is employed across all industries and in various company divisions. The focus of training is on project planning and the development of software solutions, taking information security into account. Development processes apply agile, networked and multidisciplinary methods. In addition, appropriate programming paradigms, languages and environments are selected according to the respective project.

What "Learning by Doing" actually means

During his apprenticeship, the former Oberhausen office and its trainees moved to the new branch office in Essen. There, Simon Pelzer, a committed office worker, also likes to work remotely. He is assigned to Dock Application Lifestyle Management, or ALM for short. The 30-year-old describes his day-to-day work as customer-driven, whether it's ticket processing or regulatory tasks.

Simon's professional development is far from over; neither his field of work nor his genuine interests indicate that: "As a developer, a lot is 'learning by doing'. It's continuous learning; there's always something new being added". When asked if Simon has a mentor, he answers in the negative: "Not in the strict sense. I learn from all the experienced colleagues. My cargo lead Alex Bärwald supports me in terms of further training and my career. I have taken over many of my administrative tasks from my crew lead Vera Dirschauer. This is also where I see my future. I would like to take care of niche topics such as archiving and authorization. And, of course, continue to be active in the alumni network for the trainees," Simon emphasizes.

Why employers should do a better job of promoting vocational training

Representing his IT colleagues, Simon shows that ability to learn through good training and the possibility of a career in the workplace do not depend on a degree. Nevertheless, this IKOR networker also knows that employers have to do a lot to get people interested in an apprenticeship. Simon's tip: "The value of an apprenticeship must come closer to that of a degree in public perception and opinion. A degree is not always better, in some cases even unnecessary or detrimental."

Even employed in a permanent position, it is possible to continue your education: either study part-time or add a degree during your professional life. For example, a former "fellow trainee" of Simon's took up part-time studies in October 2022 alongside his IKOR job. It's good that the German education system offers many opportunities. And it's good that there are employers who actively support their employees in continuing their education. Like IKOR. According to Simon, the company is not only an "excellent employer when it comes to training, but also when it comes to continuing education.

What does Simon wish for the future? "Air conditioning on the tenth floor of the Essen office in summer," he says with a grin. "Otherwise, I'm perfectly happy - just the way things are."

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