As of March 31, 2020 (the close of the business year 2019/20), the voestalpine Group had 47,668 employees excluding apprentices and leased personnel, i.e., 1,124 fewer employees or 2.3% less than as of March 31, 2019. When 1,337 apprentices and 2,679 leased employees are included, the total rises to full-time equivalents (FTEs) of 49,682 person years, a year-over-year reduction by 4.3% (2,225 FTE).
Compared with the previous business year, the number of leased personnel (2,679) represents a decrease of 18.8%.
A total of 55.2% of the employees (27,442 FTE) work at Group locations outside of Austria, and 22,241 employees work in Austrian voestalpine companies.
Of the total of 1,337 apprentices, as of the March 31, 2020, reporting date, 62.8% were being trained in Austrian companies and 37.2% at the company’s locations abroad. On the whole, the number of apprentices rose year over year by 27 or 2.0%.
Employee shareholding scheme
voestalpine has had an employee shareholding scheme since 2001, which has been continually expanded since then. Besides all of the company’s employees in Austria, its employees in Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, Romania, Spain, and Sweden also have a share in “their” company.
The voestalpine Mitarbeiterbeteiligung Privatstiftung (employee foundation for the Group’s employee shareholding scheme) is a stable, key shareholder of voestalpine AG. As of March 31, 2020, a total of 25,300 employees have a stake in voestalpine AG through this foundation. They hold about 23.1 million shares which, due to the general bundling of voting rights, represent 12.9% of the company’s share capital (previous year: 13.4%). In addition, former and active employees of voestalpine hold approx. 3.3 million “private shares” of voestalpine AG, which equates to 1.9% of the voting shares. The foundation exercises the voting rights of these shares, too, as long as the given employees do not exercise their right to dispose of the shares. On the whole, therefore, as of March 31, 2020, the voting rights of 14.8% of the share capital of voestalpine AG are bundled in the foundation.
Stahlstiftung (Steel Foundation)
The Stahlstiftung (Steel Foundation) was founded in Linz, Austria, in 1987. Its aim was to provide employees of the VOEST-ALPINE Group (as it was called at the time), who had to leave the company due to a crisis, as well as employees of companies outside of the Group with opportunities for reorienting themselves professionally. Up to four years of training and continuing education were funded for this purpose.
In the business year 2019/20, about 87% of the participants looking for work were able to develop a new professional perspective with the help of the Stahlstiftung. As of the March 31, 2020, reporting date, a total of 334 individuals were receiving assistance from the Stahlstiftung, 69.2% of whom were former employees of the voestalpine Group. The total number of active Stahlstiftung participants in the business year 2019/20 was 546, i.e., 2.5% less than in the previous year (560 individuals). In addition to the participants covered by the Stahlstiftung in its capacity as a classic employee fund, the activities of 62 individuals related to educational leave were also supported during the reporting period.
Apprentices and young skilled workers
The Seventh voestalpine Group Apprentice Day was held at the Linz headquarters of voestalpine AG in November 2019. About 350 apprentices from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland attended the event together with their trainers. The event serves to introduce the Group’s apprentice employees to as many of their young colleagues from other Group sites as possible and, at the same time, to give them something of a first-hand overview of “their” Group. The Management Board picked the winners of the “Vehicle of the Future” apprentice competition. Two apprentices from the Group’s Mechatronics unit in Germany won first prize for their “Future Wheels.” Numerous apprentices had submitted their vision of the “vehicle of the future,” thus shining a light on the innovative potential of voestalpine’s next generation of skilled workers.
Per apprentice, the company invests about EUR 70,000 in the comprehensive three or four-year training program. In order to efficiently approach potential apprentices, in recent years the company has continually expanded its social media activities on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
The Group’s excellent numbers in terms of completed apprenticeships create a solid base of skilled workers for the future: 96.5% of the apprentices in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland passed their final apprenticeship exam in the business year 2019/20; of the Austrian graduates, 68.1% even did so with good or excellent grades. voestalpine’s skilled workers in training won numerous medals yet again at professional championships, most of which were international or drew international participants. This included the British industry award, “The Metals Industry Apprentice of the Year 2019”; and the Upper Austrian Apprentice Award, “Best Apprentice,” which was conferred upon one apprentice from among a total of 777.
As a company focused on innovation, it is of great importance to voestalpine to ensure that its apprentices learn about topics such as digitalization and Industry 4.0 from day one of their training. A variety of digitalization projects as well as a new electrical technology lab at the Group’s site in Kapfenberg, Austria, help to boost apprentices’ digital skills as part of their training and thus ensure the availability of skilled workers in the future.
For the apprenticeship year that begins in the fall of 2020, voestalpine is offering about 450 new apprenticeship slots at 42 companies in Austria and Germany alone. Trade shows or “open houses,” where students and their parents can get information in person on the wide range of vocational training and education (VET) options, serve to introduce future apprentices to the field.
Development of executives
In the business year 2019/20, voestalpine continued to rely on a Group-wide executive development program based on its tried and tested “value:program.” A total of 198 employees from 26 countries participated in this multi-level leadership curriculum. It provides training and advancement options tailored to target groups for all executive levels based on a combination of in-person and online courses, including external postgraduates and business school students. What makes this program so valuable aside from the comprehensive skills training imparted by international top experts is the intensive collaboration on the part of individual members of voestalpine’s leadership. They engage in their capacity as speakers, project managers, or even sparring partners, so to speak, in wide-ranging exchanges of experience. This mixture of external and internal know-how along with the Group’s commitment to ensuring that employees possess advanced qualifications make the voestalpine leadership program a central component of the Group’s claim to being “one step ahead.”
Other employee development programs
In order to foster and boost relevant employee capabilities and skills in a manner both functional and regional, the voestalpine Group offers a number of additional programs such as the “Purchasing Power Academy”; the “HR Academy”; the “Early Career Program” in North America; and the “Young Professional Training Program” (YPTP) in China. The High Mobility Pool (HMP) executive development program was repeated in the business year 2019/20 to foster international talent. This program is aimed at young, international college graduates with a few years of professional experience, who carry out project work worldwide at a high level within a predefined period. It gives young, talented individuals the opportunity to rapidly absorb corporate practice and to promote international networks within the Group pursuant to their professional specialization. Following two years of successful international project activity, at the close of the business year ended participants of the HMP program were given the opportunity to continue developing their careers based on long-term employment with the company.
Numerous other customized programs and training options in individual divisions and business units complement and expand the Group-wide training and advancement portfolio available to voestalpine’s employees.
In the fall of 2019, the most recent global survey of voestalpine employees was carried out in 229 companies in 50 countries. Of the total of just under 50,500 employees invited to participate, just under 47,000 agreed to do so (a response rate of 77%). The level of commitment as a crucial key indicator rose from 53% in 2016 to 56% in 2019. It describes the emotional and intellectual degree of loyalty to a group or organization and is compiled from several questions. There also were increases in the numbers related to the rate of agreement regarding the strategic fields of action, “Professional Development Options” and “Direct Executive,” which had been defined for the Group as part of the review, aggregation, and analysis of the 2016 survey. To collect additional information, Group companies will be able to conduct interim surveys between now and the next employee survey in 2021. Besides analyzing the results of the survey, the review and aggregation process also involves developing action steps based on the findings. Every company is expected to report its two most important action steps to the Group. The Management Board of voestalpine AG also resolved to institutionalize the process of reporting survey findings and resulting actions to the participating companies’ supervisory bodies.
Cooperation with educational institutions
Many voestalpine companies offer students the option of enrolling in internships. Among other things, this is focused on scientific work in cooperation with the companies. Currently, numerous diploma and masters theses as well as dissertations are being written in cooperation with the Group.
voestalpine uses innovative formats tailored to different target groups to introduce itself to future employees. For example, a “sales challenge” was organized in Linz for future sales personnel from 14 commercial academies; another example is the hackathon that was sponsored for young digitalization experts in Vienna, Austria. At the “Freetopia” event organized as part of the “Children’s City” (Kinderstadt) project at the Group’s Kapfenberg site, children between the ages of 6 and 12 were given the opportunity to try out different jobs through play.
The University of Mining and Metallurgy in Leoben, Austria, also participates in numerous collaborative training programs. These range from sponsoring commitments aimed at kindling young people’s interest in technical degrees, to the so-called “voestalpine talks” (a collaborative event with all student representatives), all the way to support for the annual “teconomy” student trade show.
Measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic
The final weeks of the business year ended were dominated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Group’s employees. Starting in China and then spreading globally in most of the Group’s companies, the pandemic evolved into one of the biggest economic challenges in recent decades. A Coronavirus Task Force that was established at Group headquarters coordinated all responses with the aim of not only protecting employees’ health but also reacting flexibly to the fluctuations in companies’ capacities. In addition, the evolving measures taken by the governments of different countries had to be adequately implemented. The Coronavirus Task Force prepared hand hygiene guidance and rules of conduct to be followed at the workplace. At the start of the crisis, Group-wide guidelines were issued for handling business trips. Subsequently, teleworking recommendations were developed and short time work was coordinated in those countries where related state-sponsored measures were put in place.
In all of this, a great deal of attention was paid to keeping voestalpine’s employees informed at all times and as best as possible about all actions being taken.