Ad Broeren, manager Van Iterson Institute: 'Bilfinger Tebodin is candy store for aspiring consultant'
‘Digitalization and attracting people from outside are two important ways of tackling the shortage in the labor market. But investing in the quality of our own employees is even more important,' says Ad Broeren, manager of Van Iterson Institute of Bilfinger Tebodin. That is where Bilfinger stands out. Not only for top talent at Bilfinger Tebodin but also in the training institutes Bilfinger Skills Centers, the Bilfinger Network and the Bilfinger Academy.
'The Van Iterson Institute came about because there was no training program for industrial consultants,' Broeren explains. 'So we created that ourselves and named it after the top Dutch engineer Frederik Karel Theodoor van Iterson, founder of Bilfinger Tebodin. 'Look, techies are tremendously good at technology, but if you want to be a good consultant, there's a lot more to it. Communication, commercial and writing skills and managing projects, for example. Moreover, you have to be able to see the connection between the various fields of work. That now, you learn with us.'
If you have completed your technical college or university studies, you can apply to Bilfinger Tebodin. 'Last summer, eleven graduates joined us,' Broeren says. 'If you want to work at Bilfinger Tebodin as an industrial consultant, a three-year course at the Van Iterson Institute is part of the deal. Through that, we invest a lot in new consultants. Four days a week you rotate in the team on a variety of projects and one day a week you receive lessons, work on a special assignment or there is an excursion to a customer.'
In the first year, you will get the basic knowledge of all kinds of consultancy issues in many fields. From asset management, environmental management and fire & external safety to industrial emissions, HSE Management, technical safety, water management and industrial sustainability. You will be assigned to projects on all these topics, but only after you have had the basic knowledge in one of the teaching blocks. In the second year you go into a little more depth and in the final year you choose a specialization and you are ready for the real thing. Compare it to getting your driver's license: first understand the theory and background, then go out on the road independently. Because we think you have to know what you're talking about. Only with a total package do you understand how to build an industrial complex and what consequences that has in terms of, for example, asset management, safety, emissions or interaction with local residents.'
The class of eleven can further count on good supervision. 'I think it is great to see that it is becoming an increasingly close-knit group,' says Broeren. 'Once every two weeks they meet physically and you notice a fine cross-pollination on topics, also because they have different backgrounds.' What's even more unique about joining Bilfinger Tebodin as a junior industrial consultant is that everyone gets a permanent contract right away. 'That's part and parcel of training the best consultants, I think. It means that as an entry-level employee you have clarity about the path of the first few years of your career. What I hear back from them is that, once in, Bilfinger Tebodin really is a candy store for the aspiring consultant where you can and do sample everything.'
Closing the gap
What solutions does Broeren have for the labor market shortage? 'Digitization and attracting foreign talent will ease the suffering somewhat. And of course we want to retain good employees with training opportunities, such as our institute. We hope to welcome another eleven new entrants in the coming period. But tackling the shortage begins as early as elementary school. There we must already interest children in technology. And at secondary and higher schools we insist that education is still too research-oriented and that together we must close the gap to practice.'
Development opportunities at Bilfinger
'Starter or experienced rock in the trade? At Bilfinger, we think it's important that you can continue to develop in the areas that are relevant to you,' says Jens de Wael, HR manager Belgium/Netherlands. 'That not only keeps the work interesting and relevant, but also increases your potential to grow. This applies to both our operational and office positions. For example, you can follow various courses or trainings during your career. You decide together with your manager what suits you and the company.'
Bilfinger Skills Center
'To get and keep the professionalism of all (new) colleagues and subcontractors at a high level in a structured way, we have set up a Bilfinger Skills Center at three locations. At each location, we provide onboarding for new employees and assess the professionalism and safety awareness of subcontractors. If you lack knowledge or craftsmanship, you can take a training course for that. We also offer additional training, courses, toolboxes and e-learnings to ensure continuous learning.'
Bilfinger Network and Academy
There is also the Bilfinger network. 'These are young operational managers and ambitious staff colleagues from different departments,' explains De Wael. 'They follow activities aimed at broad development. For example, LEAN training and visits to work sites. There is also attention to specific development issues such as vitality and communication. Then there is the international Bilfinger Academy which includes the Regional Potential Program (RPP), the Talent Program and the Leadership Performance Program (LPP). In these, colleagues from different Bilfinger companies participate.'