From apprentice to trainer

In 1992, Michael Zacher started his apprenticeship as a mining mechanic, as the current apprenticeship profession of mining technologist was still called back then. Today, he is in charge of underground apprenticeship and imparts knowledge and skills to young apprentices who are still at the very beginning.

Michael Zacher's success story at K+S began at the age of 16. For someone who born in Wolmirstedt and later grew up in Rogätz, the Zielitz potash plant was, however, an ever-present part of his environment for many years before that. He was raised with a fascination for mining, as his father had also long worked in the mine as a manager. Michael Zacher was not the only one to start his apprenticeship at the potash plant; two years later, his younger brother also successfully applied for a apprenticeship at the same site. Today, Zacher still remembers his early desire to "enter the mine." After all, then as now, his own guiding principle carried him through:

Michael Zacher, Head of Underground Apprenticeship
The best way to learn or achieve something new is to do it yourself."
Michael Zacher, Head of Underground Apprenticeship

After returning to work as a technician, he took over as deputy for the shift foreman in area 5 of the Zielitz mine. "Barely five years later, the head of apprenticeship at the time, Michael Tysack, approached me and asked if I would like to become a trainer," Zacher says of the opportunity at the time. Tysack and Zacher had already known each other since technical school, which they completed together in Clausthal. Driven by the idea of "conveying his own fascination on the way to becoming a miner," Zacher passed his trainer aptitude test at the Magdeburg Chamber of Industry and Commerce in 2008. He then transferred to the training district as a trainer for large-hole drilling rigs and load transportation vehicles, where he also completely took over a apprenticeship cohort every two years from the second year onward. Just one year later, Zacher was appointed as an examiner for the Magdeburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an honorary position he has held for over ten years to this day


Under the guidance of Michael Tysack at the time, whom Zacher now describes as a kind of "mentor," he learned to take on more and more responsibility in addition to technical leadership. "Looking back, Michael Tysack taught me everything I needed to know. He prepared me for the job of training manager for many years," Zacher says.
In September 2016, the time had come. Zacher was handed the baton by Michael Tysack and since then has been the district supervisor for underground apprenticeship. He is responsible for 75 miners, including trainers and apprentices. Their safety is his top priority. Despite the responsibility and the many challenges in planning and carrying out the entire precinct activity, he always gives the impression of finding a lot of joy in his job. "It's a great training team. The trust and the cohesion in our team ultimately enables the high quality of training that we want to offer the young people," says Zacher, explaining the formula for success. Asked about his inner drive, the normally quite reserved training manager literally goes into raptures: "It's always a challenge and a pleasure at the same time to adapt to the different characteristics in the different generations of young people. I enjoy developing the young trainees and their skills. I find it exciting to further develop strengths that are pronounced differently over the period of the apprenticeship."

Michael Zacher, Head of Underground Apprenticeship
The virtual drill rig control station is one of the ultimate highlights of the past few years, along with the new construction of the training workshop. The training room is milled out of the rock, making it unique in its kind."
Michael Zacher, Head of Underground Apprenticeship

Anyone who knows Zacher a little better knows that this passion doesn't end at the factory gate. In his spare time, he devotes himself with equal enthusiasm to the F-youth team of Spielvereinigung Angern-Rogätz. After finishing his time after more than 20 years in active soccer, the family man now wants to continue his enjoyment of the game as a coach. "Persevering in dealing with youth increases the likelihood of hitting the right note," explains Zacher. Not only does this help him on the soccer field, it's also a factor in his success when approaching potential new apprentices, whom the plant looks for each year to fill its training positions. Zacher himself is part of this recruiting team, which seeks direct contact with young students at training fairs and also in schools to help with career orientation.

For Zacher, this is a welcome occasion every time to share his fascination with mining. "Working with the rock, extracting minerals with the help of large machines and finding joy in the non-ordinary - that's what I want to illustrate."

More Blogs

Inside K+S