A launch pad into space
Europass CV for entry on to the German Trainee Programme of the German Aerospace Center (DLR)
The German Trainee Programme (GTP) of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the European Space Agency (ESA) is offering the next generation of young and talented engineers a launch pad into the European space sector and the opportunity to train “on the job”. The programme is supported by funding from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). Those wishing to apply for a place on the GTP are only able to do so using the Europass CV, as this document is a compulsory part of the process.
“The German Trainee Programme is primarily about attracting the very best minds to the space sector and about fostering the international perspective of young people. They will shape space flight of the future and this will also entail the implementation of Germany's goals in international space travel,” commented Dr. Olivia Drescher-Schwenzfeier, chief scientist and GTP coordinator at the DLR in Berlin, as she explained the objective of the programme. This objective was set in 2010 in order to increase the number of German staff at the ESA and to create career paths into the European space industry and into space science for scholarship holders. For all those involved the result is a “win-win” situation from which policy-makers, the DLR, ESA, industrial companies and other scientific institutions benefit. However it is the graduates themselves who stand to benefit the most.
As a personnel department representative for the GTP at the DLR, Christian Jenssen knows how hard the “fight for the best minds” can be. He explains that “linking attractive offers with great content and communicating these appropriately” is critical to the success of the GTP. A further appeal of the programme is that the work on socially relevant themes, projects and issues in many areas is of a groundbreaking nature. Trainees conduct research for a maximum of two years in areas such as earth observation, technology development, manned space travel, satellite operation and robotics. ESA tutors are on hand to lend support throughout the entire trainee period.
Since the start of the programme in 2010, the Europass CV has been a compulsory element when applying for the German Trainee Programme. Drescher-Schwenzfeier who introduced the document into the selection process justifies this as follows: “When setting up a programme such as this you need consider how to uphold your own standards and really recruit only hand-picked, outstanding individuals. This starts with how the applications are organised. You need to be able to make comparisons quickly when checking professional qualifications.”
It is precisely this transparency which the Europass CV provides. The applicants present their relevant skills and competencies in a way which makes it easy to compare them and which covers the essential aspects from a personnel perspective. Language skills and digital expertise are included for example. It's not least for this reason that the document has proved successful as part of the selection process over the years. “The Europass CV provides what we require in terms of good personnel selection which can be structured in a way that makes it workable. It is a huge help to us in being able to make the right decisions when selecting future GTP scholarship holders. Both prior to personnel selection as well as in the interviews which follow, we are then able to see very clearly what the individuals bring with them and whether their applications are consistent in terms of content", added Drescher-Schwenzfeier and Jenssen.
Even though the programme is only aimed at German applicants, an international perspective plays a key role in the German Trainee Programme. The trainees learn and work for two years at ESA locations in the Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany and Spain as part of interdisciplinary teams and together with scientific and technical experts from the ESA member states, which number 22 in total. 20 scholarship holders are supported each year and as a result the number of trainees has doubled since the programme's launch. The reasons for this are the successful development of the programme and the additional financial support from the BMWi.
Drescher-Schwenzfeier and Jenssen are focusing on continuity for the future. When celebrating the event marking 10 years of the GTP at the end of 2019, they will be able to look back on an impressive success story. A total of 111 scholarship holders have been accepted onto the GTP so far. To date, 15 new ESA employees have been recruited from the graduates via the programme, while a further 10 graduates are currently ESA contractors and are working via partner companies for the space organisation. There are also a large number of PhD students and successfully completed doctorates. “We have hardly lost anybody along our journey since 2010,” emphasizes Dr. Drescher-Schwenzfeier, adding that “The German Trainee Programme not only offers high quality training but also outstanding professional prospects whether it's with the ESA or in the industrial and scientific space environment.” The Europass CV serves as an important “launch pad” in this respect.