‘In terms of technique, they are both much better than I am’

Timon Steeb has made it his life’s purpose to awaken enthusiasm for the occupation in young people. He is also a coach for learners competing at the WorldSkills competition for the Industry 4.0 discipline. At SFUVET, he is completing continuing training for this role. Last year, his two protégés won the gold medal with flying colours.

Timon Steeb explains to his automation apprentice Michael Hartmann how the EHB / Ben Zurbriggen automat works, which the Festo Didactic company manufactures for training purposes.
Timon Steeb explains to his automation apprentice, Michael Hartmann, how to use a machine that was manufactured for training purposes by Festo Didactic.
SFUVET/Ben Zurbriggen

By Peter Bader 

Coach Timon Steeb found the collegial atmosphere at the WorldSkills competition impressive. Between competitions, participants and coaches from all countries would spend a lot of time together, playing cards, chatting. ‘I found this really amazing, because the WorldSkills competition is all about winning,’ he explains. 

At the competition in Stuttgart in autumn 2022, his two protégés showed no mercy: Silvan Wiedmer and Yunus Ruff, both training to become automation technicians at the Mechatronik-Schule Winterthur, became joint WorldSkills champions in the Industry 4.0 discipline. Over the course of four days, they had to solve eight tasks as a team, each of which they had to complete within two hours. They achieved 98.6 out of 100 points and outpaced the competition by five points. 

Swiss VET on top 

Timon Steeb is head coach and expert in the promising Industry 4.0 discipline at Swissmem, which is the national association representing Switzerland’s mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and metalworking industries. He coaches and prepares learners for international skills competitions. ‘This gold medal once again confirms that the Swiss VET system is among the best in the world,’ says the 49-year-old. Industry 4.0 is a trend towards digitalisation and networking of machines in industrial production. 

For two years, the two aspiring automation technicians were able to train together with their local coach Olivier Riesen one or two days a week. They also regularly met with Timon Steeb to share ideas. ‘I mainly helped them to organise their work and showed them how to understand tasks quickly’, he says. ‘It’s like being a coach of the Swiss national ski team: the coach doesn’t ski down the slope as fast as the athletes do’, he adds with a smile. 

For him, training is a lifelong commitment. This became clear to him already after he completed his apprenticeship as a toolmaker. He wants to instil enthusiasm for the occupation in young people. Just today, he says, he met with a learner to take stock of the current situation. ‘He likes the work he does and feels good in our company – this is tremendously satisfying for me.’ 

Training as an expert for international competitions 

After his apprenticeship, Timon Steeb took the advanced federal examination to become a master craftsman and then went on to complete training as an adult educator before pursuing continuing education and training in business administration. For 12 years he worked, among other things, as a trainer at Industrielle Berufslehren Schweiz (libs) in Baden. Today he is a sales representative and trainer at Festo Didactic, which sells learning equipment, teaching materials and technical training seminars to vocational schools, universities and companies. 

He has also been there for his three children (22, 18, 14), helping them to find the right occupation. The two older children are already full-fledged professionals: the first became a healthcare assistant and the second a budding landscape gardener. The youngest even intends to take part in the cantonal selection competitions to qualify for the national SwissSkills competition.

    «It’s like being a coach of the Swiss national ski team: the coach doesn’t ski down the slope as fast as the athletes do.»
    Timon Steeb

    Timon Steeb will continue to be involved in skills competitions, which is why he is attending a CAS course at SFUVET to qualify as a coach and expert for international competitions. He is very satisfied with the course: ‘The training content is helpful and interactions with many different professionals are inspiring.’ 

    • Peter Bader, Freelance Collaborator, Communication SFUVET