To us, the proper training and qualification of our employees is a key competitive factor. We will be the industrial services provider of choice for our clients and will be able to maintain and expand our market position only if we train our employees on a regular basis, if we support them in continually improving their qualifications, and if we systematically foster their professional growth.
In order to cover our needs for qualified personnel, we train apprentices and trainees in-house, offer our employees various internal and external options for ongoing professional education, and prepare our managers for their next tasks in a number of specially designed programs. It is planned to more frequently provide our employees with cross-functional and cross-border career opportunities.
As of the end of the past financial year, we were training a total of 435 apprentices and trainees in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. We provide vocational training in more than 20 professional fields. This includes combined vocational & academic training in fields such as electrical engineering, energy management, mechanical engineering, mechatronics and process technology, as well as vocational training for plant mechanics, office clerks, scaffolders, industrial insulators, and IT specialists.
As part of Bilfinger’s Group-wide “Next Level Trainee Program,” we offer university graduates the opportunity to gain experience in the fields of finance, human resources, and information technology. In the course of the 24-month program, the post-graduate trainees are assigned tasks within the respective function in Germany as well as in foreign business units. The trainees are assigned to mentors who foster their personal and professional growth. Another benefit of the Group-wide program is that it offers extensive networking opportunities. Thus, post-graduate trainees are able to get to know and work with many of our international employees as well as with fellow trainees. Participation in personalized, ongoing professional training measures rounds out the program.
Ongoing professional training
We conduct annual performance appraisal meetings with our employees on the basis of a uniform, Group-wide standard. These interviews allow both sides to engage in a detailed review of the collaboration during the past year, to provide constructive feedback, to set joint targets for the coming year, and to determine which measures of continuing education and qualification may be appropriate going forward.
We offer our employees a large and varied program of ongoing professional training, both in-house within our Group and available with external partners. The company-internal courses are bundled under the virtual umbrella of the Bilfinger Academy. Here, our employees can take advantage of practice-oriented qualification training that allows them to acquire or further hone their technical and personal skills. Our continuing education programs reflect new technological advances, foster knowledge sharing, and encourage our employees to develop their talents and realize their potential.
Bilfinger allows qualified employees to take part in a job rotation program for a defined period of time, in which they have the opportunity to become acquainted with other operating locations and spheres of responsibility. This change of perspective benefits both the employee and the company.
All continuing education opportunities of the Bilfinger Academy, whether voluntary or mandatory, are evaluated on an ongoing basis. The regular solicitation of feedback from the participants and the involvement of the operating units enables the competent HR departments and technical units to optimize these programs and to perform adjustments as needed.
Given our decentralized structure, the key performance indicators regarding the continuing education opportunities available to our employees and executives internally and with external partners are captured exclusively at the level the operating units, and will reflect different types and scopes of information. Once the global rollout of our standardized HR software (HRcules) has been completed, we intend to make available in a centralized, Group-wide fashion the KPIs regarding the internal ongoing training of our staff members. We plan to achieve this goal in the financial year 2020.
Employee development for key functions and executives
Our executives undergo what is termed a “talent review” once a year. The objective is to enable a worldwide, standardized, and transparent evaluation of all Level 1 to Level 4 executives as to their performance, potential, capabilities, and integrity. Measures for the development of managerial talent and for succession planning are derived from the findings made in those reviews. To ensure that critical roles and functions across the Group are filled in optimal fashion, we also brief our Executive Board every two weeks on potential candidates, both internal and external. In the process, we seek to apply the 80:20 principle, which calls for 80 percent of vacant positions to be filled by candidates from within the Group. The decisions on how to fill positions as they become vacant are taken based on cross-regional and cross-divisional recommendations. We have set up appropriate employee development programs for the qualification of our managers. The intention is to boost their capacity to perform, enhance their skillsets, allow them to share their knowledge, experience, and ideas with one another, while also reinforcing their loyalty to the company.
In 2018, function-specific qualification programs were conducted in fields of critical importance to our company’s success. Besides the talent programs, these specifically include project-management certifications in accordance with the internationally recognized PMI standard as well as the training program for the Bilfinger Maintenance Concept, which ensures that our employees receive top-quality training in maintenance-related topics. In summary, it is our goal to nurture the skills and talents of our employees throughout the Group and to enhance the expertise available in-house on a continuing basis.