Apprenticeship Certification: Digitally


The Smart Eye makes it possible: PALFINGER and WIFI International are setting standards. For the first time in China, apprentices can take their Austrian apprenticeship exam finals - both digitally and live.

It’s a DOUBLE first: for the very first time, modelled after the Austrian apprentice vocational education system, ten PALFINGER apprentices took their final exams in Rudong, China between October 27th and 30th. Not just that: the examination committee at PALFINGER headquarters in Bergheim took part both digitally and live.

"Special circumstances require special measures", explains PALFINGER CEO Andreas Klauser, " in these times of Covid-19 we have exceeded our digitization competencies and therefore, banded together with WIFI International to set up the first digital final exams for apprentices".

Apprenticeships Modelled after Austria’s Vocational Training System

Not only in Austria do Austrian companies have to rely on having skilled workers at hand. Due to differing or often non-existent vocational training in subsidiaries abroad, it is extremely challenging to find adequately trained employees. With its educational know-how, WIFI International therefore accompanies Austrian companies across borders. For eight years now, apprenticeship training, modelled after Austria’s proven vocational system, has been successfully carried out not only in countries such as Mexico, but also in China.

For Export: Vocational Training Austrian-style

“In exporting the Austrian work-linked training established through the WIFI and the associated equality with an Austrian apprenticeship qualification, we have created an important qualification tool for Austrian companies abroad. This enables local companies to offer their apprentices abroad an apprenticeship qualification based on the Austrian model. Especially in countries, where this practice-oriented system is still completely new, subsidiaries of Austrian companies can rely on a well-known and more attractive system of vocational training and this offers them tailor-made qualifications for their specialists, ” says Mariana Kühnel, deputy General Secretary of WKÖ (Austrian Chamber of Commerce).

Pilot Project in Rudong

"Together with our Chinese joint venture partner SPV, we initiated a dual training concept in 2016 in accordance with Austrian quality standards. A program that is unique to the region", explains Bernhard Eicher, Head of Apprentice Training at PALFINGER. In Rudong, approximately 30 apprentices are going to be trained as welding technicians. Certification includes the passing of final exams before an on-site examination commission made up of WIFI International and PALFINGER experts.

COVID-19 Made It Possible

In order to hold exam finals for the first ten apprentices this year despite the many limitations caused by COVID-19, WIFI International and PALFINGER found an ideal solution by initiating something which had never yet been done: holding final exams for welding technician certification digitally.

Getting Up Close with the Smart Eye

The exam committee met at PALFINGER headquarters in Salzburg/Bergheim. Using secure and stable data connections, the practical part of the exams (the production of three workpieces) in Rudong were monitored virtually. From a technological point of view, the key success factor was the use of the PALFINGER SmartEye, which, in addition to both mounted and mobile cameras, enabled the testers to gain impressions in real time and communicate directly with the apprentices on site. This enabled the WIFI examination commission to view the procedure from the company headquarters at all times during the practical part of the exams. The oral exams were also conducted via an online conference system.

Utilization of Excellent Existing Networks

On behalf of WIFI International, two persons of trust supervised all steps of the apprentice exams in Rudong: an employee of the Commercial Section Shanghai Centre of the Austrian Federal Chamber of Commerce (WKO), who, due to technical expertise acquired over the last years in his field, interpreted the technical content, and a Chinese welding expert trained by WIFI International in both Austria and China who was certified according to international standards. "WIFI International's many years of activity in China with various, very often institutional partners and the personal networks that have been built up as a result is now paying off several times over to the benefit of one of Austria's leading industrial companies - a win-win situation for both countries," says a delighted Anton Aufner, Head of WIFI International.

Successfully Certified

On October 30th, PALFINGER-CEO Andreas Klauser, the Head of Apprentice Training at PALFINGER, Bernhard Eicher and the Head of Personnel Development at PALFINGER, Mario Ceschin-Putz as well as WIFI International’s reps digitally from Salzburg: Anton Aufner, Herbert Stemper and Ernst Buchinger presented the ten apprentices in Rudong with their certificates of completion. For this premiere, five of the ten apprentices were awarded a “Good”, and one apprentice received an “Excellent”.


To the press release


PALFINGER is an international technology and mechanical engineering company and the world's leading producer and provider of innovative crane and lifting solutions. With over 12,600 employees, more than 30 manufacturing sites and a worldwide sales and service network of around 5,000 service points, PALFINGER creates added value from the challenges of its customers. PALFINGER is consistently continuing on its course as a provider of innovative, complete solutions that deliver increased efficiency and better operability, while leveraging the potential of digitization along the entire production and value chain. 

PALFINGER AG has been listed on the Vienna stock exchange since 1999, and in 2021 achieved record revenue of EUR 1.84 billion. In 2022, PALFINGER celebrates its 90th anniversary under the tagline “Celebrating the future since 1932”.  


Katja Pötsch | Head of Public Relations & Executive Communication | PALFINGER AG
M +43 664 889 69 065  |