“The first business trip of my life”

Weinheim, July 14, 2016. For two whole days, the three winners of the Spanish idea competition “Una idea para Freudenberg” (“An idea for Freudenberg”) were given the opportunity to take a look behind the scenes at the international Freudenberg Group. The trip to the company’s headquarters in Weinheim was the grand prize for the vocational students from Parets del Vallès near Barcelona.

Twenty-year-old Daniel Crego is enthusiastic: "We have had an unforgettable time here in Weinheim. The schedule has been tight, but the many exciting encounters and interesting work visits have made it well worth getting up early." His classmate Minerva Palazón nods in agreement, adding: "This is the first business trip of my life – hopefully, many more will follow during my professional life." In Weinheim, the winners are able to get to know the Freudenberg group better. Among other things, Dr. Joaquin Barrera from the research and development department of Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions guided them through the Vileda Test Center.

Companies need highly qualified young professionals, especially in technical professions. However, education in Spain is mainly theoretical and does not include practical phases in companies – unlike the German dual education system. Frequently, the course content taught in vocational schools and universities differs significantly from the knowledge required in a job.

In Spain, the Freudenberg Group is driving projects in close cooperation with the German Chamber of Commerce to tackle the country's high youth unemployment. "As a company, we want to assume responsibility. The ideas competition has the aim of giving teenagers an early insight into the world of work", explained Freudenberg's country representative in Spain, Jaume Cané.

The idea for "Una idea para Freudenberg" originated in 2012 at a meeting between Cané and the Mayor of Parets del Vallès, Sergi Mingote. Above all, Cané and Mingote wanted to give the region's students hope. In Spain, almost half of all young people aged 15 to 24 are currently without permanent employment. The goal is that young people should not be demoralized by today's poor employment situation but well prepared to start their careers.

That is why Freudenberg in Spain is inviting vocational students to come up with their own business ideas. The students then develop the ideas with the help of Freudenberg colleagues, who support them in technical, legal or administrative issues and assume a mentoring role. In addition, students can gain practical experience at Freudenberg sites in Parets.

Freudenberg has been represented in Spain since 1968 and was one of the first companies to settle in Parets del Vallès. Five Freudenberg business groups currently employ around 600 people in the region.