With the RCG apprenticeship to the state championships of the professions

28. 01. 2022

Choosing a profession is one thing. Being successful is the other.
Nicole Plaimer, a completed the RCG apprenticeship program to become a freight forwarding clerk, has accomplished both. Not only did she successfully finish her apprenticeship at RCG, but recently she also participated in the AustrianSkills, the national championships for professions, where she placed third. She is therefore one of the three best forwarding apprentices in entire Austria.

We talked to Nicole and got an insight into her career path and the apprenticeship training at RCG:

At the age of 16, I moved from Waldhausen im Strudengau, in beautiful Upper Austria, to Vienna to the ÖBB apprentice home in Kundratstraße to start my apprenticeship as a forwarding agent at RCG. This was at the beginning of September 2017.
As you can imagine, it was quite an adjustment to suddenly be on your own in such a big city. However, there was always something going on with all the other apprentices in the dorm and we were often out and about together in Vienna. There was also a theater group in the apprentice dormitory, and I was part of it. In the course of this, we went to see plays in various theaters, which gave me a whole new cultural perspective on Vienna.

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship as a forwarding agent? How did you find out about it?

I wanted to find a profession where I could work in an office. Unfortunately, I didn't find a suitable job in the countryside of Upper Austria, so I decided to move to the city. By the way, my uncle also works for ÖBB and made me aware that RCG was still looking for apprentices. I then applied online and was invited for an interview only one day later.

How is the program structured? Did you immediately start working in the office?

In the course of my apprenticeship as a freight forwarding agent, I was given the opportunity to gain experience in many areas of the Rail Cargo Group and was able to get involved from the very first minute.
By means of job rotation, you rotate to a different department every six months. This way, the apprentices can gather many impressions and ultimately also decide where they want to work. That's a very cool strategy.

At the beginning, I got an insight into the operational tasks of container transport to Hamburg at the ÖBB headquarters at Vienna Main Station. After this exciting experience, the training shifted me towards contracts and customer agreements. Here I learned how costs are calculated and how prices are set.

The next stop for me in the second year of my apprenticeship was back in the countryside, in Amstetten in Lower Austria. There I worked as an order data processor and gained experience in single-wagon transport. That means I handled individual shipments from different customers, put them together to form a whole train, and gave the orders to the shunting team on site.

After my time in Amstetten, I went back to Vienna. The rotation took me to the "Claims & Insurance Management" department, where I worked in the goods claims area.
Finally, at the beginning of the third year of my apprenticeship, I was offered a unique opportunity. By means of an exchange project, I was allowed to get some insight into logistics at a trucking company, the international freight forwarder UnitCargo, far away from rail transport. I had a very exciting time there and gained completely new impressions, because the way of working is surprisingly quite different when it comes to a different mode of transport.

My last rotation took me to the "Production Services" department. It was interesting to deal with system maintenance of the programs I had always worked with until then.
At the end of my third year of the apprenticeship program, I decided to return to the "Claims & Insurance Management" department and gain a foothold in the commodity claims area. So I decided to move to Vienna for the long term. I therefore spent my fourth year of apprenticeship as a forwarding logistics specialist in "Claims & Insurance Management", where I was taken on and where I still work today.

Participation in the AustrianSkills
But what I found to be the best experience was my participation in the AustrianSkills.
The "national championships for professions" offer the chance to prove one's knowledge and acquired experience. Apprentices from a wide variety of trades take part there every year to show that they are the best of the best.

How were you able to show your skills there?
The competition consisted of various tasks: a presentation in English in which we introduced a fictitious freight forwarder to a new customer, freight calculations in trucking, air freight and sea freight. This included filling out the respective freight documents and various operational tasks such as writing a pick-up order to the carrier, talking to customers about complaints, processing complaints and clearing a shipment.

The competition was very strong and competent. Unfortunately, since rail-specific topics were not asked, I was not able to apply too much from my everyday work. But I also learned a lot about the other modes of transport at vocational school and this knowledge definitely stood me in good stead at AustrianSkills.

I managed to achieve third place and so I am now one of the three best forwarding apprentices in the whole of Austria, which makes me very proud!