LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Lafarge Zambia is banking on an elite group of young Zambian business leaders to take over management of the company as part of a company-wide drive to build the skills of its workforce.
As the company prepared to celebrate a virtual Labour Day this year, Human Resource Director Thecra Milambo outlined the importance Lafarge attaches to the skills training and knowledge transfer that makes it one of the country’s employers of choice.
“We greatly value our people as they are key to achieving success as a company. More than equipping them with the right tools to do the job, we firmly believe that continued learning centred on enhancing existing skills and the acquisition of new knowledge is what will catapult us into the future and the next level of growth. That is why we are big on building and sustaining a learning organisational culture that is focused on achieving sustainable transfer of knowledge, skills and behaviours,” she explained.
A central part of that strategy is Lafarge’s Step-Up Graduate Trainee Programme, which is developing the next generation of future management.
A total of 61 graduate trainees and interns were recruited in the business from 2018-2021 covering both industrial and non-industrial functions.
In addition, Lafarge Zambia recognises the need to contribute to developing manpower through internship opportunities for students and recent graduates, giving them practical work experience under the support and guidance of experienced employees in their respective fields.
In 2019, the maiden group of 23 graduate trainees/interns were recruited with a 95% successful integration rate, making them permanent and pensionable employees which helped to bridge the much-needed succession planning pipeline. In 2020, an additional 12 graduate trainees/ interns were recruited on a 12-month trainee basis into various functions of the business.
“Lafarge Zambia has been a part of our country’s history for over 70 years and continues to play a role in the economic, social and infrastructure development of the country. Part of our legacy has been that we have grown with the country not just in terms of years, but also in being a part of the solution that seeks to building a better Zambia through positive contributions such as creating employment, generating revenue through taxes and exports, as well as providing innovative solutions in the construction and infrastructure development sectors,” said Ms Milambo.
In addition to graduates, the company is offering training to its 400-plus employees at every level in the organisation, turning to virtual systems to enhance outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Zambia’s cement industry is still in its developing stage, as a result, in some instances talent may not be readily available. However, Lafarge Zambia continues to take on a futuristic outlook and invest in technical training programmes to further the skills of our employees by tapping into the group’s best practice skills both locally and from top-performing cement plants across the globe,” Ms Milambo said.
Although face-to-face employee learning and development programmes activities have been impeded by COVID-19, Lafarge Zambia achieved a total investment of 5,885 man-hours in training for both the technical and support functions in 2020, motivated by the emergence of an online learning culture. The training covered technical, health and safety, the environment, leadership and management topics, as well as codes of business ethics.
The results have provided a solid pipeline for succession plans and improved skills and employee performance leading to better business performance.
The company continues to focus on building its leadership capability and coaching skills for managers with notable leadership training sessions conducted in 2020 including ‘Accelerate’ for Plant Managers; ‘Business School Leadership & Management’ for Graduate Trainees, Supervisors and Managers; ‘Active Management Behaviour (AMB)’ – a LafargeHolcim Group Change Management programme for Supervisors and Managers; and a Leadership Seminar in Dubai. Coaching sessions were also conducted on an on-going basis throughout the year. Anti-bribery and Corruption training, Third-party Due Diligence, Fair Competition Law and Conflict of Interest training were also a part of the code of business training.
Some of the upskilling interventions also covered in 2020 included Maintenance Engineers’ development; Train the Trainer for forklift operations; Be Ready Launch; and Patrollers Virtual Reality Walk by Inspection.