From pupil to logistics technician: Brent Folens’ story
When Brent Folens started a work-based learning path at Unilin Flooring in Wielsbeke, Belgium three years ago, he had had enough of school. He found practical work in a real company much more appealing. He was exceptionally enthusiastic and eager to learn, two qualities that earned him a permanent contract at the end of his six-month work experience.
“I really hadn’t expected that at all,” he admits. “I was excited by the idea of spending six months at a company and getting to know an industrial environment rather than going to school. That is how you learn about real life. I knew Unilin Group already because my father had worked for Unilin Group in the past and my uncle also works there at the LVT department. We even spent a year together on the same team.”
Learning by doing …
Brent started his career as a Flooring Logistics Technician in the automated warehouse. “I still enjoy doing that job today. My primary role as a Logistics Technician is to resolve malfunctions and maintain the automated cranes and trolleys. I learned all that by being allowed to tackle things myself during my training path. First my supervisor showed me something, and the next day I was allowed to try it on my own. I learned a great deal like that.”
He looks back at the guidance he received as a pupil with joy. “It's nice that you're given the responsibility to roll up your own sleeves yourself so soon. I always got instant feedback on what went well and what could still improve. My supervisor and the other colleagues helped me where they could. I was always allowed to ask more questions if I didn't understand something right away... But they let me figure it out myself first, to see how far I got.”
When he was offered a permanent contract at the end of his course, he didn't hesitate. “Even though I was the youngest worker in the plant at the time (laughs). The atmosphere in our group of colleagues was really good, the work appealed to me and, last but not least, I really liked the high level of automation. Unilin Flooring is way ahead of other companies in that regard. I've been working here for three years now, and it never ceases to amaze me how advanced we are in terms of technology.”
New training plans
He still loves his job, but is also looking ahead already. “In school I didn't like to learn, but here I do. I get so many training opportunities here. That certainly appeals to me. It’s why I signed up for a training course for the best possible setting of the machines’ programming. My boss knows about it so it will be fine," he concludes confidently.