If voestalpine were an organism, then our almost 30,000 skilled workers constitute the backbone of the company. That makes it all the more important to support them with modern working environment, continuing professional development, attractive benefits, and alternative work time models.
Our skilled workers fulfill their supporting function in the truest sense of the word, not simply due to their large number, but primarily because of the many important tasks which they accomplish with flying colors. That means they manage, maintain, and repair the production facilities, thereby creating the products which are valued so highly by our customers around the world. And these products can be anything: one day steel for pipelines, the next axle-bearing tubes for the automotive industry. So there is plenty of variety. The same applies for the working conditions which are designed to provide our employees with the best possible levels of support. We pay particular attention to providing modern workspaces which meet both the latest technical and ergonomic standards. For example, the typical control rooms at our production facilities are totally high-tech, and equipped with countless monitors.
Individual development programs for skilled workers
Naturally, we are clear at voestalpine that demanding tasks can only be completed under first-class conditions. They start with continuing professional development for skilled workers which we provide ourselves; voestalpine has already trained over 25,000 skilled workers at our in-house training centers. Apprenticeship training remains a priority in the future: 400 training places in 50 different skilled trades at 40 sites will be offered for the start of training in 2019. We also place great importance in continuing professional development for our skilled employees. Forklift licenses and the like constitute the basis, but we also offer additional, tailor-made courses. They include our “Employees train employees” program, for example, in which experienced workers pass on their knowledge to colleagues in the form of short courses, as well as our in-house development program for aspiring foremen and masters. The key preconditions for progressing along the development path from apprentice to skilled worker, foreman and then master, are commitment, the willingness to learn, and openness to innovation. But whether a skilled worker or an executive, we expect a first-class performance from employees in every position. And the reverse also applies.
Pioneers of alternative work time models
Many skilled workers at voestalpine work on shift operations, because facilities such as blast furnaces can’t just be shut down overnight. Consequently, we can’t simply “eradicate” shift work. However, we can change the framework conditions and develop different work time models. One example is Linz where, since 2005, 65% of the workforce active in fully-continuous shift operations work according to a so-called 5-shift model. The most important advantage: more blocks of free time and fewer nightshifts make it easier to combine work and private life, increase job satisfaction, and create a subjectively better sleep pattern. So it’s a win-win situation, with voestalpine also profiting from greater employee satisfaction, as well as offering many supplementary benefits for all staff. These include incentive payments, the voestalpine employee shareholding scheme, healthcare, and much more.
Skilled workers in 50 trades at 40 voestalpine sites not only have a more secure, healthy, varied, and attractively compensated workplace, they also enjoy excellent career prospects. These include the chance to work abroad, an opportunity which skilled workers from Austria and Germany have already taken, gaining experience at our many new sites in the USA and in China.