Have you ever tasted Californian ‘orange’?
KTM has a very proactive apprenticeship and training program to help youngsters, graduates and professionals find a vocation alongside their fondness for motorcycles, technology and design. The ‘Dual Academy’ is a bold platform that allows dedicated trainees to fast-track their way into a career and also sample KTM on another continent. How do we sign up?!
By Adam Wheeler
There are nearly 300 days of total sunshine in southern California every year. KTM North America’s brand-new HQ is in Murrieta, Riverside; Los Angeles is an hour away (if you get lucky with the traffic) and the ocean is a 40-minute drive. The sunsets are good enough for poetry.
The USA ‘way’ and two months of KTM training and work in SoCal is part of the company’s popular Dual Academy initiative. It’s a plan that transports candidates and a select gathering of KTM’s brightest apprentices to the mecca of dirbike riding and for a view of how a leading subsidiary in one of the busiest markets for motorcycles conducts its business.
“It’s a special program at a higher level of apprenticeship and with valuable internships possibilities,” says KTM’s Apprentice Trainer Anita Gradl from Mattighofen, Austria. “We’re active with this and it ends up being a win-win because apprentices can travel and work in dealers and subsidiaries to get a rounded experience of the company while KTM benefits from that extra learning.”
KTM has filtered hundreds and hundreds of students into their apprenticeship system. The company not only provides training and access to many facets of their business – R&D, Design, IT, Sales, Marketing and so on – but also other resources, such as help with accommodation close to the main factory, technical equipment like a phone and laptop and gateway opportunities into full-time employment. Then there is also the Dual Academy incentive – an Austrian Chamber of Commerce scheme – which is essentially a desirable foreign secondment for those keen enough and who merit the shot.
“Well, firstly there is the minimum age limit of sixteen and the candidate also has to be in the second year of their apprenticeship but it is open to all apprentices at this stage,” Gradl explains of the criteria. “Then it is just about their suitability and the recommendation by the apprenticeship co-ordinators. We also ask the students to make a very short motivation video. So, there are a couple of different steps.”
Of the few selected for the most recent Dual Academy, 20-year-old Yannick Seidel, shed some light on the process and the experience. “I finished school in 2022 and wanted to work on motorcycles for a job,” the German tells us. “I was looking for the right apprenticeship and moved from Saxony to Austria because of KTM. I had an interview, after I had written an application letter. I then had a ‘work day’ where I was asked a lot of questions and they were looking how I could fit into the team. Dual Academy is two and a half years compared to three or four for a traditional apprenticeship and with a guaranteed job. It feels good.
“I’m surrounded by the right people to learn from and I’m based in R&D where I can see the processes and methods for development and there is extra stuff that normal apprenticeships don’t have, such as a course for team building and leadership,” he adds. “We are not just trained for the job and to learn but also with a focus on leading and managing, so when we finish we can start working at a good level. We also have the Cambridge degree in English to complete, which is another advantage.”
Then there was the trip to the U.S. “I had to do an application that then also involves Human Resources in North America. It was two months in Murrieta and I also combined it with a two-week holiday! There were a few of us out there and the main difference from the factory in Austria is that KTM North America is obviously smaller in setup and it’s like a big family. Everyone knew me or knew of me. You have that benefit of being in a small environment.”
Seidel continued his hands-on training while stateside. This involved even more direct involvement with key personnel and KTM clients. “I loved to be involved in everything,” he recalls “We were doing normal tasks and there was no real difference between a normal worker and being an apprentice. It’s good that we were included like that. It’s nice also to see the different approach to motorcycling over there. Whether on the road or the dirt, people look at bikes in a very different way. They don’t hate bikes in California. I went to many bike and car meetings. It was pretty crazy!”
Culture change and different mentalities: this is a potent theme and a big advantage of the KTM Dual Academy. “Apprentices grow and progress in different aspects,” opines Gradl. “In our feedback meetings we’ve been told that they not only learn more with their skills but also mature professionally and personally. They have different experiences.”
The KTM Academy will again see more lucky applicants in 2024 traverse the globe. There are currently 15 individuals in the Dual Academy programme from KTM’s apprenticeship roster of 200. KTM’s comprehensive training department are hoping ‘DA’ will grow and possibly lead to a reciprocal arrangement. Gradl: “The internship also shows the American guys the advantages of our system and we have ambitions of creating a larger exchange plan for apprentices and young skilled workers where some could come to Austria. Our vision is that it grows.”
For those interested in Dual Academy and any of KTM apprenticeship opps then the next ‘Open Day’ will be on 2nd February 2024 from 13.00-17.00. Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.