Actemium sets up traineeship process for refugees

Newcomers who speak a different language will learn our language and retrain so that they can work in industry? ‘First see and then believe’, thought Dirk Wuyts of Actemium when he first heard about the social organisation Steunpunt Tewerkstelling (STW - Employment support centre) via our Welt project two years ago. Since then, the STW has been a permanent partner for Actemium, the VINCI Energies brand that focuses on electricity and instrumentation, ICT, automation, mechanics and piping in industrial processes. As a production manager, Dirk Wuyts sees a great shortage of skilled electricians and is constantly on the lookout for new talent.

‘Wherever I go, I look for people with a talent for electrical engineering. To increase awareness of our brand, we maintain strong relations with schools, for example, so that their students want to work with us when they graduate. And we keep an eye on all the usual recruiting channels,’ says Dirk Wuyts (Operations Support Manager), talking about his experience of the war for talent that pervades the labour market. So in 2017 he took part in the Welt process organised by the Chamber, which helps companies to prepare their HR policy for sustainable and future-oriented employment.

‘I thought Welt was an incredibly exciting process that offered me a lot of practical insights. A session given by someone from Steunpunt Tewerkstelling (STW) was about recruiting people who speak other languages, primarily refugees. I was sceptical about it.  There’s no such thing, I’m not going to fall for a sales pitch like that, I thought at the time’, he admits. To convince him of the contrary, Dirk Wuyts was invited to visit the STW training centre. There he changed his mind immediately.

STW trains recognised refugees, among others, to guide them to the labour market. Those who start at STW are immersed in language and trained in a technical discipline. Some course participants already have a technical background and are given further training in new technologies and safety regulations. ‘I noticed straight away that these people were pleased to be there and had built up sound knowledge. The decision to offer three course participants a traineeship at Actemium was soon made’, says Dirk Wuyts.

OVERCOMING BARRIERS

Not just Dirk Wuyts had to be convinced to take on trainees who spoke a different language. The teams in which these trainees were to work were initially sceptical, as well. ‘Beforehand everyone looked at the time and trouble this involved. But after a week, they wouldn’t exchange their trainees for anything. It was fantastic to see how fast these young people were taken into the team.’

Now there is definitely support for this in the organisation. Via the Fonds VINCI, the company supports social organisations that work to create a sustainable labour market. STW, too, was able to rely on financial from the Fonds VINCI to develop its workshop with new training materials. The management plays an important role in the inclusive workplace learning at Actemium. Dirk Wuyts: ‘One of our clients flatly refused to allow a trainee on the site because it was against the safety regulations. Our manager at the time argued the case at the head office in Paris, after which the client revised their decision. Now no-one has any problem with this and all our trainees are welcome. They just carry on like another other worker.’

KUNGA FROM TIBET

STW is a major recruiting channel for Actemium at the moment. ‘Three course participants will shortly be coming along to watch what we do and find out about electrical engineering in an industrial setting,’ says Dirk Wuyts. ‘After that, they will complete their training at STW. In total, we have already taken on six trainees on a permanent basis and we want to keep developing this. We are also working on a way of organising language coaching in the workplace, so that the newcomers can keep on learning.’

Dirk Wuyts sees the cooperation with STW as a success story. ‘The young people who work here are incredibly enthusiastic and grateful. We see them flourish and become adults and that is very important for us. Our first trainee, Kunga from Tibet, has been working here permanently for two years and he now supervises people in the workplace in Dutch. That’s great to see’, he concludes.

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