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GMK human resources

Although iron and steel sector has suffered more than other sectors, companies are trying to retain staff

The military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine deprived millions of Ukrainians of their jobs. According to the estimates of the Ministry of Economy, at least 5 million people lost their jobs as a result of the war. Unemployment in Ukraine is expected to reach 30% by the end of the year. At the same time, the official number of unemployed at the beginning of December was only 210,000 people. This is a record low since the very beginning of the assessment of the unemployment level in Ukraine. However, this indicator is a minimum because it is not profitable to be officially registered in the current conditions from the point of view of unemployment benefits’ duration, as well as the need to provide a number of documents.

Against this background, the situation in the iron and steel complex is better. Despite the war, companies in the industry fulfill their functions and obligations to employees, communities and the state. Although steel sector was in a difficult position, as it suffered more than other areas of the economy, companies in the industry are trying to support their employees, retain qualified personnel and jobs.

The main hit

The Metinvest Group found itself in the most difficult situation. Its key assets are Azovstal and Ilyich Iron and Steel Works – remained in the destroyed and temporarily occupied Mariupol, and the coke-chemical production in Avdiivka was preserved.

The company organized a special “hotline” to help employees who were evacuated from Mariupol. By calling there, displaced people could get help in moving to a safe place and providing the most necessary things – food, shelter, medical and psychological help. Such support and rehabilitation centers for employees and their families operate in Zaporizhzhia and Kamianske.

“Employees could receive food packages from the company for their families, support in finding housing through the corporate program “House for ourselves” (the company compensated the cost of rent in the amount of UAH 3,000 for 6 months) or temporary accommodation in the company’s social facilities, assistance with the enrollment of children in kindergarten or school, with admission to Metinvest Polytechnic University, treatment and psychological support”, Metinvest notes.

Social and economic facilities of the Group’s enterprises in safe regions of the country – dormitories and recreation centers – were used to accommodate displaced employees. As of the end of the summer, Kametstal plant provided shelter to 1.5 thousand displaced persons, including almost 900 employees of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works, Azovstal and Avdiivska Coke Plant.

Military employment

Despite the difficult current circumstances, iron and steel companies do not stop the employment process within the framework of production needs. In addition, a new category of potential workers has appeared on the market – displaced persons from war zones, including from iron and steel enterprises, who find work at industry enterprises. For example, Metinvest Group employed about 5,000 people from February to November, and almost 1,600 of them were immigrants from Mariupol and Avdiyivka. In particular, 1952 people were employed at the group’s enterprises in Kamianske, 1215 people in Pokrovsk, 866 people in Zaporizhzhia, and 859 people at the company’s Kryvyi Rih enterprises.

Currently, the greatest prospects for employment are in Pokrovsk. Metinvest Pokrovskugillia plans to open new benches in 2023. That’s why the company needs miners, drivers of mining excavation machines, drivers of underground installations, miners for the repair of mine workings, underground electrical fitters.

“The company considers both candidates with mining experience and existing qualifications, as well as those willing to start the profession from scratch. For the latter, training is provided at the expense of the company, a scholarship and enrollment of seniority from the first day of training. The average duration of the training course is about two months. Training involves mastering the theoretical base from modern educational programs and practical classes at the training ground and workplaces. The company offers a wide compensation package. For employees in Pokrovsk, it includes health insurance, the possibility of a shift method of work (especially relevant for out-of-town workers), a free dormitory and a transfer to work. It is important to note: salaries at Metinvest enterprises in Pokrovsk remain the highest in the region and reach UAH 50,000 per month,” Metinvest emphasizes.

In total, more than 1,200 vacancies in underground and surface professions are open in Pokrovsk, candidates for which are primarily considered employees of the group’s enterprises, whose employment level has been forced to decrease.

At ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih 46 forced migrants were employed this year. They work in both worker and managerial positions. In total, the company currently has about 150 vacancies, which ArcelorMittal is filling with its own reserves – it is looking for candidates within the company, conducting internal competitions. Among the vacancies are an electrician, a pump and gas blower operator, an electric and gas welder, a hot-rolled roller, a turner, drivers, bulldozer drivers, etc.

“The company does everything possible to save jobs and provide social support to its employees. We continue educational projects, develop our employees, work with students and graduates of universities. Career moves and new appointments within the company continue. The average salary at the company is UAH 15,700,” says Yulia Zabolotna, director of the personnel department of ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih.

At Ferrexpo company since the beginning of the war, almost 90 forced migrants have been employed. They took the positions of drivers, machinists, fitters, turners, laboratory assistants, engineers, doctors, electromechanics, installers, etc.

At DCH Steel enterprises – Sukha Balka mine and the Dnipro Metallurgical Plant – 24 migrants found work.

Change of profession

When a part of workers and forced migrants were employed, they had to undergo retraining for new specialties.

“Candidates were tested according to skills and education, followed by additional training/retraining at the Technical Expertise Center,” Ferrexpo notes.

Metinvest offered employees from Mariupol and Avdiyivka new jobs at its enterprises in Zaporizhzhia, Kryvyi Rih, Pokrovsk, or Kamianske according to their qualifications, and if necessary, the company provided retraining with additional motivation. Metinvest provided financial support to employees who decided to undergo training:

  • compensation for the costs of moving to the city of study – UAH 5,000;
  • compensation for housing rental expenses in the amount of UAH 3,000 per month (up to 6 months);
  • “lifting” in the amount of UAH 10,000 in the first week of training;
  • payments of UAH 10,000 for each full month of training to employees studying for employment at enterprises.

Investments of Metinvest in training and employment of internally displaced employees amounted to UAH 26 million. From March to November of this year, about 19,000 employees of Ukrainian enterprises of the group underwent training, 290 forced migrants underwent retraining at a new workplace.

Retain and develop staff

Companies of the iron and steel complex, unlike many other spheres of the economy, systematically implement a policy of supporting their personnel. This distinguished the industry even before the war, but in the conditions of hostilities in some regions of the country, it became even more important. Iron and steel enterprises support labor collectives and individual communities, as many of them were and remain city-forming.

At the same time, the key strategy of iron and steel enterprises during the war was and remains the maximum possible preservation of active labor collectives.

“This year, ArcelorMittal’s key priority is to keep jobs for its employees, as for most of them this work is the only source of income. The company was forced to almost completely suspend external recruitment and now we are ready to consider external candidates for only two vacancies – a fitter for control and measuring devices and automation and a procurement manager for CAPEX projects. Since July, the majority of the team, including management and foreign workers, has been working at 2/3 of the load. Thanks to this, the company manages to avoid staff reduction,” summarizes Yuliya Zabolotna.

The iron and steel complex in Ukraine has always been a fundamental branch of the economy and the largest employer. Steel sector and related industries employed 530,000 people in 2021, with one job in the steel industry creating 4 jobs in other sectors.

Therefore, the industry today understands the importance of preserving its industrial potential and employees.

“One of the main tasks now is to preserve the production potential and labor teams of enterprises. Qualified steelmakers and miners are trained for years. They cannot simply be disbanded for the duration of the war and then quickly recruited again after victory. This is unacceptable neither from a moral nor from an economic point of view. That is why industry enterprises are doing everything they can to support and retain employees,” Serhiy Bilenky, head of the Federation of steelmakers of Ukraine, in the GMK Center interview.

According to him, the professions of steelmaker and miner will be very relevant and in demand when, after our victory and the de-occupation of the territories, a large-scale recovery of Ukraine’s economy will begin.

Therefore, many iron and steel companies, even under wartime conditions, pay great attention to the training of qualified personnel.

In particular, in September 2022, the first 350 students began studying modern engineering and technical specialties at the only non-state mining and metallurgical university in Ukraine Metinvest Polytechnic. Students will study remotely, combining theory and practice at Metinvest Group enterprises. The company guarantees the best students the first job, financial and other motivations.