Poland has most HTEC schools in Europe
Not so many years ago, Haas Technical Education Centres (HTECs) were evident in Poland only at the most important universities, such as those found in Warsaw, Kracow, Wrocław, and Rzeszów. From a countrywide perspective, a shortage of modern machines and low popularity of the profession among students were the main reasons why so few CNC machine operators were being educated. However, the development of technical education in Poland has come a long way in recent times, a fact highlighted by the opening of the country’s 19th HTEC earlier in 2016, the most of any European nation.
Poland’s HTEC success comes from the consistent efforts of Haas Factory Outlet–Poland, a Division of Abplanalp, which has more than 15 years’ experience selling and supporting Haas CNC products. Close cooperation between HFO–Poland and the Haas Factory during this time has allowed the HFO to meet and exceed its targets in an extremely effective way. For instance, a smart combination of Haas Factory Outlets and HTECs today allows managers and engineers from local manufacturing companies to visit school premises where they can see and test the latest Haas CNC machine tools and consult with technical staff. This has increased the credence of each school, as students are now able to practice on machines that are the same as those being used in industry. Moreover, manufacturers now frequently organise technical workshops to help incorporate their industry experience into the school curriculum.
In an additional intiative, HFO–Poland is supporting its HTECs by providing materials and inviting head teachers to regular meetings at its headquarters in Warsaw. It should also be noted that the government and local authorities continue to play an important role in the programme’s rapid development. Positive publicity surrounding their investment contributions attracts additional attention in each region, and increases the popularity of the profession among future students.
As a further initiative designed to support CNC education in Poland, in 2015, Abplanalp – which operates the Polish HFOs – introduced a special certification programme that promotes selected HTEC students for recruitment by manufacturing companies. “We are always happy to help students find the job they desire,” says Mr. Paweł Matejak, member of the board at Abplanalp. “The students who perform best in our new certification programme are subsequently recommended to our clients. By the end of 2016, more than 40 students in five different HTEC schools will receive the certificate after the completion of 36 hours of intense training on Haas machines.”
As for the future, HFO–Poland is planning to open 10 additional HTEC schools by 2020, and a further three every year thereafter, taking care to ensure equal distribution across Poland.