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February 10, 2013

History: Education at ThyssenKrupp

Photo: Margaretenhöhe housing development, 1912 
Education for all: In Europe, the 19th century was a time of mass literacy, one of the most important social developments of the time. Reading and writing were no longer skills of just the elite and middle classes, but also urban and rural tradespeople, laborers and increasing numbers of farmers. At the same time, the public education system was expanded, and children of lower- and middle-class families were included by the state’s educational bodies for the first time. ThyssenKrupp’s predecessor companies were also shaped by these developments.
Photo: Children’s reading room in the library of the Friedrichshof housing development in Essen, 1913 
The value attributed to education at the end of the 19th century is already evident in the name itself: Bücherhalle (hall of books) was the name Friedrich Alfred Krupp gave the library established in 1899 at the northeast entrance of the cast steel factory. When its doors opened, the library, which was intended “for the entertainment and education of the family members of workers at the cast steel factory,” had 8,000 volumes on its shelves; by 1902 the number had risen to 28,000. Over the years, the main library was joined by other branches in workers’ housing developments in Essen.
Photo: Metalworking shop for apprentices in Essen, 1922 
In July 1890, Friedrich Alfred Krupp created a scholarship that would give the sons of master-level employees and workers better technical training (but generally not at an institute of higher education). To be eligible for the scholarship, potential candidates had to have a father who had worked for the company and must themselves have worked at Krupp for least four years. In addition, as Krupp outlined when he created the scholarship, candidates needed to “exhibit exceptional diligence, conduct and skills.” This effort was not entirely altruistic, however: After all, the company had a great need for highly trained employees.
Photo: Industrial School on Limbecker Chaussee in Essen, circa 1900 
In the 19th century, the question of whether or not women should also enjoy access to education was by no means uncontroversial. For more education leads to more demand for increased participation in positions of power – for example, women in Germany gained the right to vote at a national level in 1919. Alfred Krupp was somewhat progressive for his time: As early as 1875, he began supporting the construction and operation of industrial schools for women. The goal, among other things, was to enhance “the earning capacity of women and girls dependent on paid labor” by providing instruction in school on typical female handiwork. The Fried. Krupp Industrial School in Essen Fried. (Krupp’sche Industrieschule zu Essen (Ruhr)) was located at 18 Limbecker Chaussee and primarily targeted the wives and daughters of company employees.
Photo: Krupp Educational Society, 1899 
As the only other major company in Germany besides Bayer, Krupp made an effort at the turn of the 20th century to contribute to the intellectual and cultural development of people by founding its own institution, the Krupp Educational Society (Kruppscher Bildungsverein). The aim of the Krupp Educational Society, founded under the aegis of Friedrich Alfred Krupp on July 19, 1899, was to “foster general education and cultural activities while rigorously excluding all political and religious matters.” With its selection of evening lectures and activities as well as assorted courses in literature, stenography, chess, economics, the sciences and photography, the Krupp Educational Society reached out to laborers, skilled trade workers, service personnel and white-collar employees alike.
Photo: Commercial apprentices in the first practice room for typing at Thyssen-Hütte in 1933 
At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, workers at blast furnaces, melt shops and rolling mills most often learned their job simply by copying what they saw others doing; proper training in the quickly growing industry only emerged gradually in the Ruhr region, which attracted migrant workers from the far reaches of Germany as well as from other countries. This development was the catalyst for systematic training at Thyssen in 1903: At that time, a company school for further training was started in Duisburg-Hamborn, where it operated through to 1945. The picture shows commercial apprentices in the first practice room for typing at Thyssen-Hütte in 1933.
Photo: Typing course at August Thyssen-Hütte AG, 1971 
After World War II, public vocational schools assumed responsibility for providing apprentices with regular education alongside their practical training at the factory. But the importance of internal training rose – in part because jobs were becoming increasingly more demanding as a result of the growing complexity of technology. The picture shows commercial apprentices practicing ten-finger typing at the August Thyssen-Hütte AG training center in Duisburg-Hamborn in January 1971. In 1977, a preliminary milestone was reached: After years of planning, Thyssen AG opened a newly constructed training center in Duisburg-Hamborn.
Today, ThyssenKrupp provides a wide range of training and education programs for employees. The Seed Campus project is a very good example. This global training platform provides continuous, needs-based training for skilled employees and young managerial talents from all areas of the company. High-level programs enable employees to improve their capabilities and competencies – under the guidance of highly qualified, mainly in-house trainers.
Further information on training and education
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