Steelworkers for the future

ESTEP's vision for the European steel industry up to 2030 foresees major changes, many of which will be driven by new scientific and technological discoveries. New products and new processes will appear in response to evolving customer demands and ESTEP members' determination to contribute to preserving the natural environment.

At the same time, the steel industry workforce is undergoing an unprecedented change. The age structure in most European steel-producing companies is such that more than 20 % of the workforce will have left the industry in the period 2005-2015, and close to 30 % will leave during the following decade up to 2030.

So if the transformation of the European steel industry is to be led by science, technology and innovation, then the industry needs the people who will drive these changes and ensure their success – the steelworkers of the future.

The activities of ESTEP's Working Group 'People' contribute to ensuring the supply of the highly-skilled scientists, technologists, innovators and managers who will take the European steel industry forward and provide new sources of competitive advantage. It does this by promoting an education system that has the capacity to educate and train new workers, and offer existing workers the lifelong learning opportunities to maintain excellence. The group also works to improve health and safety within the industry, giving a high priority to the 'zero-accident' objective and promoting new technologies and working practices to ensure safe working environments.

Recent activities...

...on health and safety

ESTEP is investigating the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies as a means of tracking products across steel works facilities. RFID uses low-cost electronic identification tags to store similar information to barcodes and which can be interrogated by radio-frequency readers placed at a distance. The technology is already used in many logistics operations to track materials and reduce costs, in the steel industry as well. However, ESTEPs interest also lies in the ability of RFID to identify and track at a distance – thus removing workers from physically dangerous situations.

...on training and skills

A major activity of the Working Group is the GT-VET project – 'Greening Technical Vocational Education and Training'. Aimed at the steel industry and supported by the Leonardo da Vinci fund, this project is coordinated by ESTEP member TU-Dortmund and ESTEP is a partner in the consortium with particular responsibility for the dissemination of results. The project is exploring how vocational education and training (VET) pathways meet environment and health and safety skill needs, which are key for boosting the global competitiveness and sustainability of all European industries. The aim is to develop a transferable European training module that achives identical learning outcomes in the field of green skills and sustainable awareness, for example, focusing on preventing pollution and securing occupational health and safety. It will be tested within four steel companies and Member States (United Kingdom, Poland, Italy and Germany).

Read more on GT-VET

Another Working Group initiative is SKILLS – Steel Construction Industry Lifelong Learning Support. Also funded by the Leonardo da Vinci programme, SKILLS is helping vocational training providers in France, Poland and Spain meet the substantial needs of the steel construction industries in these countries, arising from the changes in working practices due to implementation of the Eurocodes for structural steel design. Working closely with industrial partners, training providers are developing course modules to ensure steel and construction workers acquire the skills needed to maintain competitiveness.

Read more on the SKILLS website

For more information on Working Group 5-People: see the latest Activity Report

Last updated on: 2012-06-27