Education: key to NWR's future
NWR actively supports technical education. It needs qualified people, but the current system of education in the Czech Republic does not reflect the needs of industry.
Czech industry faces a fundamental problem: the labour market lacks people with a technical education and the structure of the education system does not reflect the needs of the Czech economy, which is traditionally based on the strong role of industry.
Prominent companies have therefore decided to take an active approach by supporting technical curricula at secondary schools and universities, thus, standing in for public administration. NWR is involved in this endeavour. As a result of its dynamic technological development – which has seen the company invest nearly CZK 10 billion in modernising OKD‘s gateroad and longwall mining sets, plus CZK 1.6 billion in the construction of a new coking battery at OKK Koksovny – NWR needs technically educated people.
Together with the Secondary School of Technology and Services in Karviná, OKD decided in 2009 to review mining apprenticeships after nearly 20 years. Starting with the current school year, the company also entered into an agreement with the secondary school in Havířov-Šumbark. With OKD‘s support, both institutions now provide vocational curricula for the positions of Electrician – mining operations, and Locksmith – mining operations. In the current year, OKD is supporting 103 students in Karviná and 22 in Havířov-Šumbark.
“Mining traditions have remained alive at our school and we put in place a range of preparations prior to the mining apprentices’ arrival. Modernised workplaces, workshops and laboratories thus awaited them. We are also continuing to supplement the equipment of the electro-technological centre, which is a speciality of our school,” said Josef Říman, headmaster of the Havířov-Šumbark school.
A few statistics put the current situation into perspective: 1970/1971, there were 11 mining schools operating in the Moravian-Silesian Region, attended by 5,589 students. In 1989/1990, there were nine schools, with 8,992 students. The first mining schools were established as early as 1904.
| Hard coal is produced in the Ostrava and Karviná areas, using modern longwall sets and other machinery at depths of as much as 1,000 metres.
|| The OKD Foundation and mascot Pantuška have been distributing happiness worldwide since 2008, mainly thanks to hard coal mining.
OKD offers students various benefits as well as the prospect of employment. Mining curriculum students receive a monthly stipend, attend surface operations of the mines, and also enjoy the opportunity of a part-time summer job with the company. After completing their studies, successful students are awarded a secure job with OKD for at least three years.
“That was the greatest enticement for me. It is not very easy to find a job in our region. With OKD, I have the certainty that after leaving school I will work with state-of-the-art technology in a prominent company and for an appealing pay packet,” said a third-year student of Karviná school, Tomáš Siuda. Graduation, however, will not necessarily mean Siuda will start work in OKD straight away. “Of course, mining apprentices do not simply complete their three years at school and then go work for us at OKD. They can choose to continue with their studies, and attain the school-leaving exam or go to university,” noted Radim Tabášek, OKD’s Chief Human Resources Officer.
Engineers are rare
OKD has long-term cooperation with the Technical University in Ostrava, an institution that is seen as the traditional seedbed for engineers. OKD offers support to students of mining, engineering and related fields in the form of the stipends, internships and support in the preparation of and dissertations.
“We support students of technical subjects. But that is still not enough. While we reach dozens in this way, we need hundreds to cover the natural replacement of employees. Starting from next year, it will be possible to study mining as a subject for the school-leaving certificate. We know that the key to the successful future of our company lies in qualified people,” Tabášek concluded.