Success Story
XU and ZF: E-Cademy qualification initiative 

At a glance:

With the E-Cademy ZF enables the targeted development of knowledge and expertise on electromobility within its own workforce. In collaboration with project partner XU, ZF is thus implementing the largest internal qualification project in the company’s history. Learning for the future is seen as a fundamental lever for change and transformation. After all, the E-Cademy sharpens the skills profile of ZF employees and thus enables them toactively shape the transformation of their company and the entire industry. This concept impressed the jury and participants in the voting for the German Human Resources Award in September 2022: The qualification project was awarded with the Talent & Learning” prize. den Wandel in ihrem Unternehmen, aber auch den einer ganzen Branche, aktiv mitzugestalten. Dieses Konzept überzeugte im September 2022 auch Jury und Teilnehmende des Votings für den Deutschen Personalwirtschaftspreis: Hier wurde das Qualifizierungsprojekt mit dem Preis der Kategorie Talent & Learning ausgezeichnet.

In detail:

The mobility of the future is electric – and is changing the job profiles and skills requirements of an entire industry 

The structural change in the German automotive industry and all associated sectors can no longer be denied: The German government has long supported the EU’s goal of phasing out combustion engines by 2035 and is promoting the move into the all-electric age in the face of increasingly scarce fossil fuels. This promises positive effects for the climate but has also a massive impact on those involved in automotive production and all related industrial sectors. According to an Agora study, there will be significant shifts in jobs between the German industries involved by 2030: While car manufacturers risk losing around 70,000 jobs, and suppliers focusing on combustion engine powertrain components could lose up to 95,000 jobs, suppliers of powertrain-independent components, such as battery production, could gain up to 95,000 jobs, and the charging infrastructure sector could gain around 70,000 jobs.  

 

In addition, the Agora experts forecast extensive effects on the scope of existing jobs in connection with the structural change: Almost 760,000 employees within the automotive industry would have to retrain to remain in employment by 2030 – for a good third of them the need for retraining and qualification would be high. In view of these forecasts, decisive action is already required from industry players in Germany today to keep their employees employable and prepare their company for the future.  

Far-reaching transformation only succeeds if everyone is on board 

As one of the world’s leading automotive suppliers, ZF is focusing on sustainable mobility technologies and electrified drive solutions with its “Next Generation Mobility” strategy. This transformation is changing almost all areas and locations of the company – at a time that is also characterized by economic uncertainties and changes due to the pandemic. Although ZF has been active in the field of electromobility for around 15 years, the division has only grown disproportionately in recent years. The focus is on more than 30,000 employees in the newly merged Electrified Powertrain Technology division. This is tasked with driving forward the future topic of e-mobility in management, administration, research, and development as well as marketing for the corporation.  

 

The division is made up of the approximately 21,000 employees of the former “Powertrain Division” and around 9,000 employees of the “E-Mobility Division”. As a result of the rapid growth and merger of different areas, there are significant differences in knowledge among the employees. For this reason, ZF has launched the “E-Cademy” training program together with XU and uses their learning experience platform for in-depth knowledge and skills development. 

Nicole Gaiziunas
Co-CEO and founder of XU:

 

“Targeted qualification programs are the best way to offer employees whose jobs are undergoing profound changes caused by transformation processes such as the powertrain revolution a suitable new perspective for the future. Everyone should have the opportunity to be part of that future – that’s why we support companies like ZF in equipping their workforce of today with the knowledge and skills for the job profiles of tomorrow.” 

Christina Schulte-Kutsch
Senior Vice President Talent & Organization at ZF:

 

New fields of technology will change the qualification profiles of our employees in the future. In the E-Cademy, we support our employees in the technological change: Comprehensive offers make it possible to qualify specifically for future profiles, and thus actively shape the technology change and the future of mobility based on the newly acquired knowledge. In addition to building up the knowledge required for technological change, we put great importance on establishing a sustainable learning culture: Lifelong learning is the key to mastering the transformation. The E-Cademy is therefore characterized by learning formats that promote the independent and autonomous development of knowledge and skills a competence that will be indispensable in the future in a working life driven by transformation.” 

Implementation: Varied and independent learning – with the necessary support and motivation 

With the E-Cademy, ZF has created a qualification initiative that meets the needs of a very heterogeneous target group and enables learners to build up comprehensive knowledge and skills in the future field of e-mobility within just a few months. The employees were divided into two groups: with and without PC access. A standardized face-to-face training course was developed and carried out at 23 ZF locations for the approximately 15,000 employees without PC access. The offline training was also flanked by the “E-Cademy eXPO World Tour” forum, which gave all employees at 20 production locations worldwide an insight into the changes, importance and technology of e-mobility. 

5 Personas

The collaboration with XU focused on the group of employees with PC access. The learners were assigned to one of the following personas depending on their role in the ZF Group: E-Mobility Strategist, E-Mobility Leader, E-Mobility Specialist Business, E-Mobility Specialist Technical and E-Mobility Driver. This enabled the design of individualized content based on the role requirements and the differentiated learning needs of the various stakeholders. From December 2020 to June 2021, the necessary planning as well as the didactics and learning content development for the ECademy took place. This resulted in 35 hours of learning content in 14 courses covering the eight aforementioned fields of knowledge. 

14 courses in 8 fields of knowledge 

In July 2021, a targeted pilot phase was launched in which information about the specific needs of employees was concretized, tailor-made communication measures were derived, and learning content was further optimized conceptually. This allowed XU and ZF to address the target group in the best possible way. The official launch of the learning initiative took place in September 2021, accompanied by a comprehensive launch campaign: In four live events with top-class keynote speakers, held in two languages and two time zones, the stakeholders were informed transparently about the project and its goal right from the start, and motivated to learn. With targeted, continuous communication via all relevant internal ZF channels, the XU project team succeeded in creating the necessary awareness for the E-Cademy throughout the entire project implementation phase and establishing relevance for the project. The channels included internal social media, mailings, community of practices, blogs and live formats.  

 

During implementation, the interactive learning content was gradually made available on XU’s learning experience platform and accompanied by a total of 140 live sessions – this made it possible to build up knowledge at the learners’ own pace. A comprehensive, anonymous e-mobility readiness check was carried out at the beginning of the learning journey, which evaluated the level of knowledge of the employees and enabled an individual learning experience. A voluntary delta check to measure learning progress also took place in March 2022.  

The result: Didactically progressive, individualized learning concept from XU leads to success 

The innovative learning platform from XU is structured into multimedia, interactive and maximum half-hour learning units – perfect for integration into everyday work and with scientifically proven long-term learning success. Accompanied by constant communication measures, a very high engagement rate (active learners) of around 80 percent was achieved. It was also possible to establish a new, modern learning culture at ZF – in which the focus is on individual learning experiences on a voluntary basis. 

Christina Schulte-Kutsch
Senior Vice President Talent & Organization at ZF: 

“The E-Cademy is a change management initiative that has been well received. We are delighted with the positive feedback, the high level of participation and the resulting commitment of our employees to actively shape the future of ZF and the future of mobility.” 

During implementation, decisions and measures were always made jointly by XU and ZF based on real data and placed in relation to previously agreed KPIs. From 2022, a management dashboard with relevant key figures in real time was available for this purpose, ensuring rapid action and contributing to even higher quality. The user-centric focus of the qualification initiative was continuously ensured over the course of the project using methods such as in-depth interviews, comprehensive feedback options and mood surveys with collaborative tools such as Mentimeter. A delta check also made it possible to measure progress in a targeted manner during the project.  

 

Within the first four weeks after the start of the voluntary learning program, 5,000 active learners were reached. This figure more than doubled after just six more weeks: More than 11,000 active learners were reached via the learning platform and provided with basic knowledge about e-mobility. The following key figures have been achieved so far: 64% of the courses launched have been completed, 50 percent of all active learners have registered for live sessions and 52 percent of all active learners have started the e-mobility check (47 percent completion rate). In addition, a dialog was established at a strategic level on how to deal with megatrends of the future.  

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