Innovation and high quality are not conceivable absent continual employee training and continuing professional development (CPD). Hence training courses are an important prerequisite for voestalpine’s success. In addition, they promote employees’ career opportunities at the personal level as well as their ability to network across departments and locations.
The total expenditure for human resources development in the business year 2020/21 exceeded EUR 43 million. A total of 66.5% of all Group employees took part in training and CPD programs. The total training volume in the business year 2020/21 amounted to 507,855 hours, which equates to an average of 16.6 hours per trained employee.
Digitally into the new CPD year
Going forward, the educational program for voestalpine’s Austrian employees will be published & presented in digital formats. We have succeeded in creating a new format for seminars and courses in collaboration with the human resource developers of all divisions. In this connection, particular emphasis was placed on a needs-based selection of topics, regional emphases, and participants’ wishes. Adapted content and new in-person courses as well as the growing number of online-only formats or mixtures of in-person and digital content enhance the variety of the company’s educational program. Its new iteration offers opportunities for all target groups in the company and includes exciting topics and flexible methods.
Executive training programs
voestalpine relies on the so-called “value: program” it developed in-house to train current and future executives. The limitations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to implement this multi-level leadership program in the business year 2020/21. The international aspect of the value:program along with the cross-divisional, personal network that it spawns is one of the program’s cornerstones that could not be implemented due to travel restrictions.
Programs that had already started were completed in the course of the business year by carrying out individual modules digitally. However, there were never any plans to shift the program to an online-only format, for two reasons: What makes this program special (aside from the wide range of methods that leading international experts use to teach relevant skills) is the intensive participation by voestalpine’s management (whether as presenters, project managers, or sparring partners, so to speak) in exchanges of experience. This mixture of external and internal know-how along with the shared, Group-wide interest in ensuring that employees possess advanced qualifications make the in-person training aspect of the value:program extremely successful and unique.
Irrespective of these considerations, however, in the future additional digital content will increasingly supplement and expand individual modules. By implementing this kind of blended learning, voestalpine is taking the next steps in the direction of digital delivery of executive training programs, albeit without sacrificing the quality that comes from facilitating personal contact during the training. The fact that the participants work jointly on internal projects is another aspect of the programs. It gives project mentors insight into the benefits of having international teams from the most divergent corporate units and cultures. This is yet another reason why the content redesign will focus more strongly on diversity and on integrating appropriate learning content into each and every module.
So-called “unconscious bias” as it relates to the topic of diversity in executive training programs is important because it is a major barrier to greater diversity at the workplace. Every person is characterized by cognitive thought patterns that affect their judgment and cause them to engage in discriminating behavior—unintentionally and unconsciously. Starting with prejudices based on outward appearances such as a person’s looks, height, age, or gender, unconscious bias extends all the way to decisions made under peer pressure. Developing an awareness of one’s own prejudices and learning to deal with them in appropriate ways is fundamental to both team dynamics and the company’s management culture. The participants in such training learn how unconscious bias develops and how it can affect a company’s performance. Not a single human being is free of automatic assumptions, but voestalpine wants to shape its systems in ways that help people to recognize such assumptions for what they are so that their decision making is more objective and fair.
In addition to its proven programs for executives and specialists, voestalpine also offers training programs for wage and salaried employees. These programs not only expand these employees’ professional qualifications and expertise, they also boost soft skills such as teamwork, self-reflection, and agility. Topics such as guiding values and corporate responsibility are explored as well. The voestalpine Group believes that these competencies besides high levels of professional expertise are important factors in employees’ successful future advancement.
Purchasing Power Academy
The Purchasing Power Academy has been working since 2014 to facilitate greater networking and professionalization among buyers. Purchasing strategies, purchasing processes, and communication, but also and increasingly sustainability in the supply chain, are some of the topics that are addressed. The multi-stage approach to training is implemented by voestalpine’s own dedicated employees and external trainers. In order to enable international buyers from absolutely all voestalpine companies to participate in resource-efficient ways, the intensive in-person component is complemented by e-learning modules and apps, video conferences, training videos as well as self-study materials. So far, about 280 buyers have availed themselves of this continuing professional development opportunity. Every training stage ends with a final discussion.