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Shipbuilding – not just a man’s job at thyssenkrupp

5 October. 2019

First safe, then good, then fast: That’s the simple motto Paulina was taught right at the start of her apprenticeship.

One of the few women

The 24-year-old is training as a construction mechanic in metal fabrication and shipbuilding and will finish her apprenticeship in a year’s time. “I’m really surprised that so few women want to learn this occupation,” says Paulina, who is one of just a few women at vocational collage. “The job is very varied and perfectly doable in terms of the physical demands – and colleagues are happy to lend a hand if necessary.”

Rather practice than just theory

As part of her dual training program, Paulina currently attends vocational college twice a week, although this depends on the apprenticeship year. After abandoning her degree in shipbuilding due to a lack of opportunities to apply what she was learning, she is now happy to finally be able to do practical work at the thyssenkrupp Marine Systems shipyard in Kiel.

Many opportunities for professional development

Based on engineering drawings, she makes parts for submarine hulls which she subsequently installs and tack-welds into place. But her duties also include general measuring and metal work and maintaining welding records. After completing her apprenticeship, Paulina – who comes from Hamburg – wants to gain experience as a journeywoman first and then perhaps train as a master craftswoman or technician later on. “I can wholly recommend this apprenticeship,” says Paulina. “At thyssenkrupp Marine Systems there are so many opportunities to develop professionally – and keep your fingernails clean,” she says, laughing.

A little closer to her dream

Paulina can already imagine staying at thyssenkrupp Marine Systems until she retires because for her, as someone who feels comfortable in a male domain, everything here is a good fit: “Of course it doesn’t hurt to be assertive but I have always been treated with respect and made to feel welcome everywhere.” She is the only shipbuilder in her family, which begs the question of where her desire to learn this trade comes from: “As a little girl I always wanted to dive into the Mariana Trench so I’ve taken a small step toward my dream!”