Stephen Dowsey: "I have been lucky here at Tvilum. No day is the same." 

Stephen has worked at Tvilum for 25 years. Read the interview below to find out what made him consider a career change and how he ended up working with our automation projects. 

Can you tell us a little about your history at Tvilum? 

I started at Tvilum already back in 1997, initially in product development. I worked as a saw operator at the workshop and took care of the wood storage. I did that for 21 years in total. After that I joined the team of our Vest factory in Fårvang and ran Saw #3 there, which I named Gibby at the time. She is known by that name to this day. So, me and Gibby worked together for another 3 years. And after that I decided I needed a change and joined the apprentice program and have been working as a trainee automatic technician since. Since I was a trained nurse, per education until then, then this gave me an opportunity to venture into a field I had considered at the very beginning of my career. At that time, I chose nursing over electronics and automation, but had carried the question "what if?" to this day. So, I decided it was time to find an answer to that question. 


How does the apprenticeship program work in practice? 

This is a full training program to become an automation technician, with my practical placement at Tvilum. The training takes four years and started with a foundation course lasting 20 weeks in total– 20 weeks of classroom studies at an educational institution. The next four years will consist of 10 weeks of theoretical study each year at Mercantec college and the rest of the time in practical placement here at Tvilum, alternating between the two.  

What is great about Tvilum is that if you are already employed by Tvilum prior to joining the apprentice program, you get to keep your benefits. I have not lost anything, in financial terms, but gained a lot in self-development. Normally, doing something like this would require you to go on study leave, and take a temporary pay cut while in the program.  


What will you become once you finish the program, what qualification will you receive? 

After finishing the program, I will be a fully certified automatic technician. For me this is a brilliant education to have as more and more things around us are being automated. And this trend is only accelerating. It´s exciting – no one day is the same as the previous here at Tvilum. As part of the program, I work side by side with a trained technician and whenever something breaks down, we are called to go and fix it. 


Is the apprenticeship program widely known in the company? 

To my surprise no. Because when I tell people about the program, they tend to ask me a lot of questions about it – questions about the potential loss of income or the setup of the program. And they are surprised when they hear about this great oppertunity that we have. This is something that we should promote more actively throughout the entire organization. This is a brilliant system. And it is benefiting both parties. Some people might be hesitant to enroll in something like this, because it is a new field for them, others might be worried they are too old already, but I say – go for it! For example, the group that I am at school with in Viborg – there are 22 of us in total and eight out of us are over 35 years old. But we mix – we have the same mindset and strive to learn.  


How do you see Tvilum as an employer? 

I like Tvilum! We have a good atmosphere here where people are friendly with one another, greet one another every morning, and so on. To me it is great that I can get my education while working here. Considering my age, I am somewhat of an unusual participant in this program as the apprentices are usually much younger. At the same time, my age has never come up in any discussion or conversation so far. I feel very much at home here at Tvilum. Also, being Scottish myself, the politeness of Danes is something I can relate to and appreciate. 

When I decided that this apprenticeship program is something I would want to participate in, I asked my manager about it, and he agreed immediately. His message was that if I am willing to put in the effort, he would give me the chance. That is exactly the type of deal that I was hoping to have. It also shows that Tvilum wants its people to be educated and this philosophy goes all the way up to the top. All one must do is be willing to step out of one's comfort zone!