From auto mechanic to milling programmer

Erwin Verhulst, Programmer Milling

Erwin followed the pre-vocational secondary education pathway (VMBO-T), landed a technical job, but came to KWME as a 20-year-old unemployed auto mechanic. “I wanted to learn a new profession via a work-study programme and KWME was the first company that responded to my resume. They facilitated and financed my entire training and even before I received my level 4-diploma, I moved up to the position of operator/programmer!”


Back to school

“I did an internship at my uncle’s, an auto mechanic, and I discovered that I like engineering. I found a job as an auto mechanic, but unfortunately, I lost my job in 2014. The entire automotive industry had gone belly-up. My father, who is a programmer, suggested that I should look further and take a training course. I was able to do that at KMWE! That same year, I started as a machining trainee while following the study programme machining, level 2. I worked my way up via level 3 to level 4 of a senior secondary vocational technical education (MBO), and after three years I was allowed to call myself a machining engineer.”


″Even before I received my level 4-diploma, I moved up to the position of operator/programmer!” 


Big compliment

“Before I officially graduated, my mentor at KMWE moved me to the manufacturing department. I had already been working as an operator and programmer and I had regularly helped out my colleagues, but I was still surprised to find out that I moved up not one, but two levels in my career! I became an operator/programmer CNC machining, which was exactly what I wanted to be. It felt good that people had so much faith in me. And I still enjoy going to work every day!”


Learning by making mistakes

“In our job, things can always go different than expected. When you programme on the computer, everything might look perfect, but in practice things might go slightly different. Problem-solving is part of my job. That is not something you learn at school. It is something you learn by doing. I use almost all machines in my department, so every problem is different. I also learn a lot by looking at other people and by giving and receiving help. Regardless if someone is above or below me, we all help each other. My ultimate goal is to work myself up to a senior position. When you are a senior, you get to work with the most complicated products and you are involved with finding strategies and creating bespoke programmes.”


″Problem-solving is part of my job. That is not something you learn at school. It is something you learn by doing″


Excellent working conditions

KWME employs its own mentor whose job it is to train students, and as far as Erwin is concerned, that is quite unique. “In a lot of companies, students work side by side with the employees, so it depends on these employees if you learn something or not. At KMWE, we have special machines for trainees and you are trained by someone who is an expert in his profession and in teaching. That works a lot better.” In addition to the good atmosphere and the extensive training opportunities, Erwin is happy about the excellent working conditions. “The shift system appealed to me,” he says. “I work three day a week from 7 a.m. till 6 p.m. Those are long days, but it gives me a lot of time to tinker!”


Erwin Verhulst, Programmer Milling