Tapping local talent

Fengxin Li is a student from the Langfang Technician School for vocational training: “Sandvik has a good work environment,” he says. “I’m happy here every day.”

Securing future talent and building a pipeline of skills are the objectives of the trainee program at Sandvik in Langfang, China. “It’s a great place to learn.”

Langfang is a city of 4.5 million people in the Hebei Province in eastern China. Here Sandvik Coromant operates a production plant. The region is dynamic, with strong economic growth, and is home to a range of industrial manufacturing companies. Sandvik must compete with other local employ- ers to attract the best candidates for its workforce.

To that end, Sandvik operates a trainee program for students from technical schools in the region. The program draws trainees from occupational schools and colleges and runs for six or twelve months, depending on the age and school level of the trainee. “Recruiting for qualified candidates in the local labor market is not easy,” says Ice Zhang, Human Resources Business Partner at the Langfang plant. “The program is a great opportunity to promote our brand and reputation in the local community, particularly in the schools, in order to attract potential future candidates.”

Zhe Li studies at the Langfang Polytechnic Institute and says he enjoys learning accord- ing to an individual plan.

According to local regulations, companies are not allowed to hire stu- dents before they have finished school. The trainees normally have one or two semesters left before graduation, when they can join Sandvik.
“Having the students onboard for an extended period of time offers Sandvik the opportunity to evaluate their performance and to offer some a permanent employment at a later date,” says Zhang.

The program also provides tangible benefits from a production perspective. “By adjusting the number of trainees we take in at any given time to the actual volume demands in production, we gain a lot of flexibility in manning the produc- tion and handling swings in demand,” she says.

"The trainees find Sandvik a great place to learn," says Ice Zhang, Human Resources Business Partner at Sandvik in Langfang.The total number of trainees taken in 28 MEET SANDVIK #1–2019 a year varies between 10 and 40, aged 18 and up. Most are boys, but there are a number of girls too.

What do they think about the program? “The feedback we get is that they find Sandvik a great place to learn more about production as well as contemporary management methods,” says Zhang. “Young people today want to feel that they are in focus and receive attention at work.”

At Sandvik they do so, since each trainee is assigned his or her own men- tor plus an individual development plan with specific goals and tasks.

What do the longtime staffers think about the trainees? “Most of our employees have worked at Sandvik for decades and find it refreshing to host a new generation of colleagues,” Zhang says.