People – Education
Investing in people, investing in the future
Programmes aimed at upgrading employees’ skills are crucial to enhance the sector’s human capital and contribute to employee satisfaction. Continuous vocational training facilitates the continued employability of an ageing workforce, and is vital for the success of a highly innovative and skills-based sector such as the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry.
More than 56,000 people (64% of all those employed in the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry) participated in formal continuous training in 2015, compared to 47% for the manufacturing sector as a whole. Additional analysis shows no substantial difference in participation rates between men and women in the sector.
In 2015, companies in the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry spent no less than €173 million on continuous training for their employees, an amount which corresponds to 2.3% of total wage costs. Two-thirds of this was spent on formal training and the rest on informal (on-the-job) training. This percentage is growing steadily and in 2017, the social partners agreed a common objective of an average of three days training per year per employee.
Social partners in the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry co-manage Co-Valent, the sector’s training funds, with a special focus on promoting training and skills development within smaller companies (SMEs).
The chemicals and biopharmaceutical industry also engages in dual learning programmes in both Wallonia and Flanders, where high school and superior school students are combining formal school education with practical work experience in companies.
In 2016, the Antwerp Management School conducted a study for essenscia vlaanderen on ‘The future of jobs’, analysing what impact Industry 4.0 will have on job profiles. Digitalisation offers many opportunities for the industry and is a prerequisite to maintain the Belgian chemicals industry’s leading position.