On 11 December 2023, Germany’s best apprentices were honoured in Berlin. Winner in the category “Port Logistics Specialist”: Niklas Rohde, who has been working at Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AGs (HHLA) Container Terminal Tollerort in Hamburg since finishing his apprenticeship. In addition, HHLA was once again recognised as the best apprenticeship organisation for this profession.
22-year-old Niklas Rohde completed his apprenticeship in January 2023 with a grade of A after just two and a half years instead of the usual three. During his apprenticeship, he obtained practical experience at all three HHLA container terminals in Hamburg, at the subsidiary UNIKAI, which specialises in rolling cargo, and at HHLA Frucht- und Kühl-Zentrum GmbH. Since successfully completing his apprenticeship, he has been working at HHLA Container Terminal Tollerort as a straddle carrier driver, among other tasks. In addition, he obtained his truck driver’s licence in spring 2023 during his free time so that he could also drive HHLA’s tractor units – as well as the fire engines of the voluntary fire brigade in Neudorf, which he has been active since his youth.
Rohde was first drawn to the large handling equipment at the port during his school internship in year 9, when he spent three weeks on work experience at HHLA’s Burchardkai and Tollerort terminals. “I can see the container gantry cranes from my home in Vier- und Marschlande. I come from an agricultural background, so I’ve had experience of large machinery since I was little. As a result, I’ve been fascinated by the port since my early years,” says Rohde, who began his apprenticeship at HHLA after his Abitur school-leaving qualification.
“Niklas Rohde’s outstanding result underlines the excellent level of comprehensive learning and personal development that apprentices get at HHLA in terms of both practice and theoretical knowledge transfer,” explains André Konopatzki, Head of the HHLA Technical School. He is also a good example of how the completion of an apprenticeship only marks the beginning of further professional training. “I hope I can also obtain a patent to operate container gantry cranes as part of the planned multi-patent training programmes,” says Rohde. In addition, he received a further training scholarship from the Chamber of Commerce for his top degree and is currently considering what advanced training he would like to do alongside his employment.
As part of the transformation programmes launched at its container terminals in Hamburg, HHLA will focus even more than in the past on providing its employees in handling operations with the qualifications to hold several patents and to work across all terminals. To achieve this, additional investment in trainings and development for employees is planned in the coming years.
HHLA’s high level of apprenticeships is also reflected in the company’s regular recognition as the best apprenticeship organisation, most recently in 2022, 2021 and 2020. The award is presented by the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). This year, almost 300,000 apprenticeships were successfully completed across Germany, with 219 young women and men distinguished as the best in the country.