Combined school-work program – ring any bell? I hope so, because it’s not just about the youngsters. It also concerns us: entrepreneurs and companies.
It’s the topic of current discussion. News on television, newspapers and talk shows, they have been talking of nothing else.
I don’t want to get into the matter itself, neither side with the young people or the Ministry.
I don’t want to open up discussions nor comment, as many already did about what has happened in the last month of protests, charges and claims. This is not because I don’t have an opinion about, but because I prefer to bring up firsthand how my company experienced the combined school-work program.
I want to tell you about our personal experience and show you every step of the way.
Try to figure out the conversations, the images and the emotions we have experienced.
How SAPA has based his approach to combined study/work experience.
SAPA has been involved in the local students internships for two years. We believe in building bridges between schools and companies.
And for this reason, we decided to join the project.
When two years ago the local schools reached us for asking our involvement to this project, I thought I wanted so, but in our own way.
I thought I wanted to create a combined school-work program, designed for meeting the needs of both youngsters and SAPA.
We have always aimed for education and training of young people. A concept that I learned from my father, who used to say
“It is better to teach fishing than to give a fish.”
And I can see myself in this sentence, because I have experienced firsthand the concept.
My father, the company founder, believed that young people should experience the work world and its implications.
And you should know, that even before I finished my studies, I already worked within the company. I started working at the most menial duties, dealing with shipping and later accounting departments.
It was a gift my father gave me.
The years I spent studying at school and working at the company have been very important for my personal growth.
Because training is not only a school issue, but it is carried out also and especially outside.
As soon as I realized that the schools were well on this way, I set out to participate and gave our availability.
And be sure that the decision to create agreements with schools has been taken with great responsibility.
I went back in time and saw myself in today’s youngsters.
And I thought that I want them to work. To me it was an enriching experience.
But I also thought that I want to give them all tools and means to work at their best, and to throw their hat in the ring. As it has been done for me.
So we have taken upon ourselves the responsibility to guarantee these guys a standardized training, studied, organized and targeted for them.
You can imagine that the much internship hours must be filled with fruitful and meaningful purpose, nothing is left to chance.
You can understand that, indeed, the practitioners who join SAPA are not Art school’s students. They are individuals who study mechanics, and when they enter the factory they already know what a press is. We teach them how to use it practically.
Combining study/work has sense if study can be applied in practical job.
And first of all, we decided to give meaning to the training, with responsibility.
A bridge with all schools in our local area
At SAPA we did a great preliminary job.
The local schools, that together with us have developed a training course, are mainly technical-industrial institutes. Which means that students know – in theory – what they’re going to experience and it’s not a shot in the dark.
In particular, the students who join us, during the years at school have studied in great detail:
• Production management areas
• Quality Management
• Production Planning
• Areas linked to industry logistics.
When they cone into the factory, their eyes reveal astonishment. They look at each other and say “Oh so that’s’ the machinery that we have studied in mechanics! As a matter of facts, that’s how it is… ”
It’s always exciting because the students realize that their hands can now reach what they have studied for years: machinery, gears, and devices, seeing the movements and hearing the noise.
It’s always a pleasure to share this moment with students, because they are happy. They look like relieved and proud as well.
In short, it has been worth spending the afternoons on the books. And now they can put it into practice.
This represents a great satisfaction for them; I know that since the project has been started, the feedback has always been positive.
A structured training programme for young people
The fact that the youngsters are already mired in theory, allows us to start with minimal, but sufficient bases, and allows the students to interface with something familiar, which they already met in theory.
The training starts with theoretical lectures, conducted in-house by our managers.
At this stage we provide the students with tools that ensure total safety inside the factories. We teach them the essential bases for working with confidence, without endanger themselves and others.
We also explain SAPA’s core, its different branches, and the given way we operate.
This is a fundamental kickoff meeting.
It is the first brick of one’s experience with industrial plants and machinery.
Then we skip ahead, to the practical part, where we use the hands.
The youngsters are broken up into small groups of 4-5 – for a better supervision and guidance during the activity – and paired each one with a tutor.
You know, this is important to make sure everything’s fine, to be able to correct mistakes and influence them in the right direction.
Each group is assigned to a workspace. In this practical stage the students work cheek by jowl with our workers.
By doing so, they have the opportunity to experience firsthand everyday work life and really understand what it’s all about.
This is how we structured the training offered to the trainees.
We cared about every aspect, in order to offer them a real work experience.
The project is backed by very positive feedback. Last year the trainees were 95.
95 individuals who have been able to relate with us, pulling their own weight in the project, giving their contribution, bumping up against the work world.
I can’t tell you if they all leave in a clearer frame of mind, but I know we provided them with real equipment, to fill their toolbox.
Perhaps they won’t need it right now; maybe they never have to, because they will do other things with their lives. But, if we managed to let even only one of these 95 youngsters have a little piece, a lesson, a thought, we are more than satisfied.
An opportunity to discover new talents
But why did I decide to share with you this experience?
It’s simple. Because I strongly believe that the combined school-work program is a starting point.
You get started from here. And then you just need to organize things.
You got to really want it; but I assure you a sense of satisfaction: the one you read in the student’s faces, and in ours, when the year after, the schools ask to repeat the experience in SAPA.
I am so happy and satisfied with the work carried out.
And I believe that this training program represents an opportunity for us to find the best profiles, and why not, to recruit them.
One initiative among many
I decided to show you how SAPA has been managed for two years the combined school-work program, to let you understand that this is a real starting point for both students and companies.
We can both take advantage of it, thanks to schools and companies partnership and organization.
SAPA is involved firsthand in the training of the students, we invest so much and combining school-work is just one of these aspects.
- In few weeks it will be held the Award Ceremony for a competition involving students from all European universities.
Our Angelo Affinita Foundation decided to offer 3 scholarships worth 22.000 euros
and an important work experience. The prize is dedicated to the authors of bachelor, postgraduate or PhD theses.
Moreover, as a matter of facts, SAPA reserves the right to offer an employment or research contract to those who have elaborated an innovative project, to develop it in house!
They will have available our team of engineers, all the equipment and materials, in order to reproduce their invention.
But our projects are not only for adults:
- In 2017 SAPA contributes to educational expenses for the minor children of all workers at Group plants with a low family income.
Here you can read two articles where I bring up some projects launched by SAPA and Angelo Affinita Foundation, for the youngsters and for us as well, for building solid bridges between the new generations and us, without barriers but strong links.