SKW builds its own campus

Nitrogen Works Piesteritz will open the first part of its education centre on Dessauer Straβe this month. When the 'campus' is complete, the chemical company will have invested ten million euros into training rooms, educational labs and workshops.

There is a demand for it. SKW currently employs 87 apprentices, plus another 20 employees who are undergoing extra occupational training to become foremen or technicians and around 15 employees who are still studying and working at the same time. They all should be able to find opportunities to learn in the new facilities. “Here we are bundling everything to do with knowledge transfer into one,” says HR Manager Eberhard Hinder. Until now training took place all over the plant grounds, but now they have a common home.

In addition, there are also the various collaboration projects with universities of applied sciences. Whether the Agrochemical Institute, practical seminars with Anhalt University of Applied Sciences or its “privileged partnership” with Martin Luther University: SKW’s links with universities of applied sciences are extensive. In the future, these joint events are also to take place at Dessauer Straβe.

At the moment, the former brigade group building that was constructed in 1960 accommodates a classroom that holds 65 seats, a chemistry and physics lab, a small library and an IT infrastructure that links everything together. Once the Heinrich Heine secondary school has moved out of its temporary campus following reorganisation in Reinsdorf, workshops for trade occupations in the former vocational school will then also be available. SKW has already purchased the property from the district. Hinder hopes that the renovation works will be able to start at the end of 2013. SKW itself is only providing the infrastructure. The training will be provided, as before, by the Bildungszentrum für Beruf und Wirtschaft (BBW). “We won’t be expanding our own capacities,” says Hinder. BBW has already worked for SKW for years and for some time in the now renovated building, which recently stood vacant for a few years.

Nevertheless, the plant has a wealth of employees who have the ability to undertake training. 40 to 50 permanent employees devote varying amounts of time to training and teaching alongside their regular work responsibilities. There is a lot to do. “We are investing heavily in new facilities,” explains Hinder, therefore the knowledge of our employees must also increase. Employees are expected to prepare themselves for the upcoming instructional sessions, teaching lessons, further training sessions, seminars and “workplace examinations”. “This is also acquisition and retention of knowledge,” says Hinder. The knowledge retention is already an important issue for the plant. By 2018 around one third of the workforce will have reached retirement age. “This is a huge loss of knowledge,” says Hinder. SKW is seeking to counteract this problem with specific further training.

The advantage of having its own 'campus': SKW can oversee the content of the training. For example, process engineers from Merseburg University of Applied Science work on problems in the SKW plants. And perhaps (and so they hope in Piesteritz) one or more graduates will choose to work for one of the self-described “most innovative fertiliser manufacturers in Europe”.

(source: Mitteldeutsche Zeitung / MZ, by Markus Wagner)

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