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Since 2011 Corporate Responsibility is an integral part of vocational training.
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The purpose is to ensure that our apprentices learn from the start that responsible conduct adds value, not just for them, but for the company and society as well. We use practical projects to put that message across. The apprentices learn at first hand what CR means in their field. Following successful completion of pilot projects at two chemical sites and in the Energy and Real Estate Business Areas, the plan now is to roll out the concept to all 32 chemical sites where Evonik trains young people.
As a first step, apprentices from various disciplines are brought together. Youngsters learning to be skilled operatives, laboratory technicians and office staff are combined in working groups. Each group defines its own CR project and is responsible for all aspects of its realization, including managing the timeline and ensuring it meets the goal set. At the end of the project phase, each group is responsible for presenting their work.
One group of apprentices at the training laboratory at Evonik Goldschmidt GmbH in Essen examined ways of saving water—and thus avoiding wastewater—in their work. The problem they tackled was the fact that fresh drinking water is used to cool our chemical plants and discharged into the wastewater system after cooling. That is a classic waste of resources, and also costs money.
Their idea was to develop a closed-loop cooling system incorporating a recooling appliance. They planned the entire system from start to finish, and even carried out a cost-benefit calculation to take account of the cost side. Following on from the planning phase, the members of the group on practical training courses are currently installing the new cooling facility in the laboratory so apprentice chemical laboratory technicians will be able to use it in the future.
The feedback from our apprentices was very positive. They learned that corporate responsibility is not a new issue or problem, but a thread running through all aspects of vocational training. That has greatly increased their awareness of the social dimensions of their daily work. They also learned that working in a team can provide a good basis for solving society's problems—and that actively taking on responsibility can also be enjoyable. Overall, the project work greatly improved both their awareness of CR and their social and professional competencies.