9. Pipeline of talented scientists and engineers for tomorrow

The economy of tomorrow will rely on science, technology and engineering skills, but as the demand for these roles increases, it will get harder and harder to attract the very best.

Why is this important to us?

The skills associated with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are critical for sustainable development. Sectors like construction, automotive and our own industries of steel and mining all require top-quality engineers to develop more sustainable production methods, rethink the assumptions we make about how we use and re-use resources, and develop the technology for clean energy generation.

The commercial imperative

What kind of challenges do we face?

In Europe and North America, the average age of our employees ranges from 42 to 50. As this generation of European and North American steelworkers moves towards retirement, we risk losing the skills they have developed. There are fewer young people electing to study STEM subjects in these regions, which means a growing shortage of engineering talent for us to draw from. We need people with top-class STEM skills to generate the new ideas and products that will help us rise to the challenge of sustainable development.

What do we need to do?

We need to replenish our pool of engineers and technicians before the skills gap has a negative impact on our business. But we know this is a long-term issue, and we have to commit to it for the long term. In other words, we need to start while children are still at school, and inspire them with the idea of a future in science, technology or engineering. When they are older, we need to support them to develop careers based on the scientific, mechanical and electrical skills that our business needs.

What is the potential to create value?

Our size, geographical spread, and range of functions mean we have a lot to offer those wanting to develop skills in science and technology. And if we can find the right people with the right skills, we know we can contribute to a more sustainable future for everyone – not just by leading our industry in sustainability, but by designing products that deliver the same benefits but use fewer resources. We also see value in bringing more women into STEM-based careers, and this is a high priority for us and our industry.

Our stakeholder's expectations

Between 2015 and 2025, the number of jobs requiring STEM skills is likely to grow by about one million across the world. Governments want business to invest in STEM education, both for the future of their own economies and the benefit of wider society. Our communities also want us to support their local economies, and we will support our social licence to operate if we help local people to gain new skills and increase their employability.

At the same time, the average age of our employees has been rising, and in some countries is as high as 50. As they retire and we look for younger people to replace them, we know the best new talent is looking for an employer with a proven track record in developing skills and providing high-quality training.

The outcome we need

We have built a healthy pipeline of well-trained and talented engineers, scientists and technicians, both for our own future, and for society as a whole.

Achieving our new outcome

Our new sustainable development framework brings our STEM work together under a common global umbrella for the first time. It recognises both the programmes targeted at our own strategic workforce needs and those aimed at the needs of society as a whole. We will implement this at local level by asking our local management to review their progress, tying together their analysis of long-term trends among their workforce, the educational trends within their own country, and the expectations of potential recruits. We will also explore the risks and the opportunities of collaborating with others to broaden our impact on STEM education.

Our approach to date

STEM as a social good

Many of our local operations have already identified specific STEM programmes to address the ongoing needs of their local communities. Many of these are projects with schools, colleges and universities, to encourage students to choose STEM subjects, and identify those with a particular aptitude in this area. As well as providing teaching aids and technological support, we invite students to visit our steel plants, so they can see where these skills could take them, and how important they are to a company like ours. We want to do more to actively motivate them to build a career in the steel and mining industries of the future.

STEM as a strategic workforce issue

Within the company, our human resources teams work to build a pipeline of talented people for the future. This starts with the technical and professional training we provide through the ArcelorMittal University’s 12 faculties, where the subjects include mining, R&D and steelmaking. It also extends to partnerships with academic and other organisations, and offering internships and PhD sponsorships through joint research projects. In some countries we offer young people from our local communities the chance to take up internships and training with us. We have long-term partnerships with a number of leading academic institutions around the world – 20 in steel construction, 14 in steel-forming, and six in physical metallurgy. These are designed to develop productive and practical collaborations on specific issues, and ensure we can attract the best students.

In order to assess the potential gaps in our workforce, and potential skills shortages in the wider labour market, we have created our own proprietary strategic workforce planning tool. This gauges the level of skills and the changing age profile of the current employee population at a particular site, and maps that against its future requirements. Following a pilot in 2014, we aim to roll this tool out in every country where we have an operation, so that we can plan our workforce and address any potential shortages of qualified people.

What's new?

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