6 June 2019

This is why Umicore offers dual learning programs: ‘The key success factor is motivation and determination’

Getting the right person in the right place: that’s one of the big challenges facing companies like Umicore every day. Especially when it comes to technical profiles. That’s why we believe in dual learning. 

What is dual learning? 

Dual learning offers students the opportunity to acquire professional experience during their studies. They get a good taste of the company’s culture and gain knowledge and insights that only come with hands-on work. 

This is a real win-win for Umicore and for the students who join us for dual learning. When we hire them, wknow they are the right people for the job. Meanwhile all those students have a first good experience once they graduate. 

Within Umicore, we have different dual learning programs. Depending on the country you are in, the process of enrolling in a dual learning project might be different. However, the core concept is always the same. Every week, students work several hours at Umicore. The rest of the week is reserved for school and studying. In most cases, the students are paid for the work they do.


Umicore’s response to the ‘war for talent’ 

Koen Teuwen, Sampling Support Manager at our Hoboken plant in Belgium, has coordinated the local dual learning project since it started two years ago. “We started this initiative because of the ongoing ‘war for talent’”, Koen explains. “If we want to attract the best technical talents, we need such initiatives. 

Enabling students in our plants meant some preparation was necessary. We developed a learning plan and teaching package, which gives the students the opportunity to gain the field experience they’ve been missing in their regular school programs. 

After two years of dual learning in Hoboken, Koen is happy with the results so far: “We see the students work, learn, grow and become enthusiastic about their job and our company. The key success factor is motivation and determination.” Finding the right people is all about having a fit with our company culture. “Technical skills can always be taught on the job or through training, but having the right fit with Umicore is something that we can best identify through dual learning. Much more than during a job interview, for example. 

An apprenticeship at Umicore 

Dual learning doesn’t only happen in Belgium. In Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein we have already had a similar programs for a long time. “An apprenticeship lasts for 3 or 3,5 years, during which apprentices combine school lessons with working in different departments at Umicore according to their learning plan”, explains Barbara Kriebitzsch, HR Manager at our site in Hanau. On her site alone, around ten new apprentices start the program each year. 

Barbara says the apprenticeship program demands both time and money, “But it’s a worthwhile investment as the apprentices get to know Umicore very well and are very strongly committed when we offer them a job at the end of the program.” 

Only the beginning

Dual learning reduces the gap between companies looking for dedicated new employees, and students craving for more first-hand experience. In Belgium, Umicore works with a variety of schools to find new dual-learning students every year. In Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein, you can apply for an apprenticeship yourself. 

If you are interested in an apprenticeship in one of our German, Austrian or Liechtenstein sites, you can find more information here. 


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