Innovation and high quality are inconceivable absent ongoing 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 facilities.
The total expenditure for HR development in the business year 2021/22 exceeded EUR 52 million. Fully 76.9% of all Group employees took part in training and CPD programs. The training volume in the reporting period came to a grand total of 630,587 hours, which equates to an average of 17.5 hours per trained employee.
Training programs that used to be conducted face to face prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic were shifted online yet again during the business year ended. By now, some of them have been converted into a permanent digital format. Blended learning approaches—i.e., combinations of livestreamed online sessions and self-directed learning phases—enable participants to study and practice at their own pace.
Sindbad mentoring program
voestalpine Stahl GmbH has been participating in the so-called Sindbad program in Linz, Austria, since November 2021. The company launched a one-on-one mentoring program. It serves to help socially disadvantaged youth choose a training program or school that offers CPD and supports them on their development journey. Currently, pre-stage graduates are participating in the pilot program as part of their elective modules. Hence three voestalpine employees are serving as mentors, so to speak, to three middle school students in Linz and Wels, Austria, for a year. During this time, the mentors put their course learning into practice as part of a social project by developing trusting relationships and good communication skills and by providing specific guidance to the young people in question as to their individual professional or educational journey. The mentors themselves are supported in their challenging work through seminars on social leadership, workshops, and coaching sessions. Direct insight into the young participants’ lives gives not only the mentors but also the company an opportunity to experience other ways of living and enhance their positive views of diversity.
voestalpine relies on the so-called value:program it developed in-house to train current and future executives. We succeeded in carrying out this multi-stage leadership program in the business year 2021/22 after all, despite the limitations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Given travel restrictions or lockdowns, however, in many cases individual aspects of the program had to be switched to digital formats.
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 top 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 Group’s interest in ensuring that our employees possess advanced qualifications help to make the value: program successful and hence unique. The inter-national make-up and diversity of the participating executives is another one of the program’s cornerstones. It enables them to build personal networks across national boundaries and the company’s divisions. Furthermore, the participants are required to work on internal projects. This has the added benefit of allowing the project mentors, in particular, to gain insight into the advantages of having international teams from the most divergent corporate units and cultures at the Group’s disposal.
In the business year 2021/22, only 131 employees from 14 countries were able to participate in this multi-stage executive development program owing to international travel restrictions; women accounted for 12.2% of the total.
value:digital – The digital era is here
Lifelong learning is indispensable. In order to do justice to our ambition to always be one step ahead, the value:program described above was expanded by an online counterpart named value:digital. It offers value:program graduates an exclusive learn-on-demand solution that enables them at any time to refresh what they learned or acquire new skills. The pandemic gave us the opportunity to combine the best of both worlds—analog and digital—and to supplement the tried and tested face-to-face value: program with online offerings. In terms of content, the value:digital library concerns the topics already addressed during the relevant stage of the value:program; it is made available to the alumni of that program via this platform. Access to the unique value:digital library is an optional add-on that enables us to take the next step in the direction of the digital transformation within executive development programs also. Since its launch in September 2021, the value:digital database has amassed more than 410 regular users.
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.
Regional training programs and the HR academy
Our two regional training programs—the Early Career Program (ECP) in North America and the Young Professionals Training Program (YPTP) in China—had to be suspended for yet another year on account of the pandemic. The next iterations are planned for the current business year (2022/23) and will extend in part into the business year 2023/24. We used the time to digitalize particular processes, e.g., the nomination form, and to revise or newly design some of the underlying concepts. The HR Academy will also be restarted in the current or next business year. This program serves to train HR managers with respect to their active role as a link between executives and employees, working as best they can to help the company achieve its goals.