Asking your trainees to jump from the top of a 35-foot telegraph pole may be
the key to your company’s future success. At least that is what Volkswagen
The company contracted Brathay, developers of personnel development
programmes, to design a scheme for Volkswagen’s three-year ‘Adapted Modern
The programme includes an exercise known as ‘the pole’, which involves
trainees jumping from the top of a telegraph pole, supported by ropes held by
other members of the team.
The scheme is designed to develop core competencies in personal confidence,
customer focus and team work. More than 247 of 600 VW apprentices have already
successfully completed the course, which also includes ghyll scrambling –
ascending and descending natural water features.
Mike Wilkinson, manager of Volkswagen’s apprentice programme, said that
managers had noticed a marked difference in attitudes to work and personal
confidence following the week-long residential courses.
"At Volkswagen we understand that the automotive industry is
changing," he said. "The days of the Coronation Street-style garage
are long past. We have to ensure our candidates develop the personal skills
they need to communicate effectively with both colleagues and customers."
Godfrey Owen, deputy CEO at Brathay said: "We have designed an
experiential programme to create problems, both physical and creative, to help
trainees align themselves with the cultural values of the company and to
develop long-term habits."
The only reported injury to date has been a sprained ankle picked up during
an impromptu football match.