25 June 2020

Defying the virus − aptitude test based on a new concept

The aptitude test for young trainees at BRAIN has now been held later than planned, despite COVID-19 and under changed conditions.

Windows wide open, eight small tables with workstations set up with plenty of space from each other, stacked chairs in the back corners: this is how the spacious bistro of BRAIN AG, where employees usually meet for lunch and coffee breaks, was recently reconfigured. On this day, the room was closed because it was reserved for an aptitude test for candidates hoping to train as biology laboratory technicians. After COVID-19 had thwarted the planning of the aptitude test in the first quarter of the year, the test was now held under changed circumstances and special conditions.

Motivated and qualified junior staff for the laboratory

Head of HR Ute Dechert was relieved when the candidates arrived on site in the morning despite COVID-19, because to completely suspend a year's training as biology laboratory technicians or not to offer the full training would be a disaster, not just for the young people themselves but also for the company. "We have to keep going, we need motivated and well-qualified young people in the laboratory," explained Dechert.

"We had to completely rethink our practical test", says Anne-Katrin Jordan, one of the two trainers at BRAIN, "because it usually examines the ability to work in a team as well as the deft use of laboratory equipment. But social distancing would not have been possible in this way. So the team of supervisors, which includes Jordan, microbiologist Petra Wolf, process engineer Jan Freytag and molecular biologists Almut Kohl and Jörg Girardello, came up with something new in order to test whether the candidates had a knack for laboratory work.

“Even in such times we need motivated and well-qualified young people in the laboratory.”

Ute Dechert, Head of Human Resources

Challenging training for young people

What else do you need to successfully complete the training to become a biology laboratory technician? "The trainees must have staying power," says Anne-Katrin Jordan, “because the training is demanding and demands a lot from the trainees  even in self-study." Good grades in biology and chemistry are of course the best prerequisites, but mathematics, English and a good command of German are also required later in practice," emphasizes Petra Wolf and adds: "Digitalization has now become more important. This will be just as exciting for our newcomers, who start their training in August, as it will be for us as supervisors".

Cooperation with Merck complements training

Since BRAIN's in-company training had been on hold for some time after the BASF training association was disbanded, a small team of employees, some of whom were experienced and had been with the company for many years, took up the challenge in 2017 following a call from BRAIN’s HR department. Equipped with different professional skills, the team covers all the specialist areas required for training as a biology laboratory technician. Missing competencies, which are indispensable for the Chamber of Commerce (IHK) qualification/examinations, have been supplemented since 2018 through a cooperation arrangement with the Darmstadt science and technology company Merck KGaA. "As in the days of the BASF training association, it suits us very well to award two training places every two years," says Ute Dechert, hoping that the next round in 2022 will see a return to the proven test procedure.

We are always looking for bright minds! Have a look at the career site of BRAIN AG.

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