Cartiera di Carmignano, Italy: redeployment, training and development
Cartiera di Carmignano Spa, based in Brenta (Padua), is the sector leader in the production of special papers, including standard self-adhesive papers, flexible packaging and graphics papers. The paper mill was founded in 1887 by a local businessman who sold it to a Swiss group five years later. The Swiss group ran the company for 110 years, and in 1985 acquired a second Italian plant at Condino (Trento). In 1993, the paper mill was acquired by its current Swiss owner, Industrieholding Cham. This acquisition coincided with a general renewal of the company.
Cartiera di Carmignano has a turnover of around €118 million per annum. In 2004, it employed 390 staff, 73% of whom are qualified factory workers (284 workers), the remainder being managers, executives or white-collar workers (106 workers). Some 92% of employees are male (358 workers). The company employs a large number of older workers, around one-third of whom are aged 45 years or over (128 employees). Some 52% of employees are shift workers, all of whom are men; around 35% of these workers are over 45 years of age.
The company considers older workers to be an important resource in the delicate production process, since experience is fundamental. Thus, it is in the company’s interest to value and motivate its older employees.
Social dialogue in the company is favourable. Decisions are usually taken initially by the management, then discussed with the trade unions and finally reflected in the internal company agreements, signed by both social partners.
The original initiative
In 2000, Cartiera di Carmignano Spa introduced a continuous training initiative, open to all employees including older workers. The initiative was introduced to respond to an increasingly dynamic and international market. Since 2000, Cartiera di Carmignano has provided continuous training in languages, IT, safety, quality and environment, along with specialised courses.
- over 45 years of age largely benefited from language and computer training courses, as they only addressed employees not involved in shift work and on a voluntary basis and most shift workers are younger. The initiative was decided upon by company management. Trade unions were informed and voiced no opposition, and in fact, were happy to support these corporate measures.
Over the years, the initiative developed successfully, and in 2003, management training – intended for staff, mainly over 45 years of age, who had responsibilities and coordination tasks – was also introduced and the budget increased significantly to €120,000. Altogether, some 7,800 hours of training (20.4 per person) were provided: 7,000 hours of continuous training, 600 hours of management training and 200 hours of specialisation training. Again in 2003, the analysis of employee training needs was improved.
As a result of the initiative, older workers have become more motivated, and have acquired new knowledge and skills: they perceive training to be a decisive factor in their professional lives.
Good practice today
As part of its HR management strategy, Cartiera di Carmignano Spa introduced structured continuous and specialised training in 2000. Training was repeated in regular intervals, affecting the professional life course of employees by giving them the chance to acquire an increasing number of new skills and expertise at different ages, without age distinction. Continuous training included computer skills and foreign languages for non-shift workers on a voluntary basis, as well as compulsory safety, quality and environment courses for all employees.
The initiative was successful and the motivation of older workers improved, inducing the company to enhance the scheme. In 2003, management training was also introduced.
Today, continuous training continues to be boosted. Workers attend courses, on average, every two days, with classes lasting about 90 minutes for language training, and two to four hours for safety training. Specialist training is scheduled about once a month, requiring several days of study, sometimes offsite. Two working days every two months are scheduled for management training.
The initiative continues and has yielded positive results: in April 2005, Cartiera di Carmignano won the ‘Prize for continuous training excellence’, announced at Padua during the establishment of the ‘Training Companies’ Club’ by the union ‘Unindustria Padova’, which includes 148 industries.
The company’s current objective is to increase the rate of voluntary participation in language and computer training. To achieve this, from 2006, workers’ skills will be included in the annual self-assessment questionnaire in three areas: self-assessment of position (level of skill thought to be required for undertaking a task and level thought to have been reached); performance for the past year; and potential (capacity to perform tasks that differ from current routine). In this way, it is hoped that the inadequacies identified by the employees themselves will serve as a stimulus to increase participation in specific training programmes, with an expected higher voluntary participation in continuous training.
The results are positive for older workers who actively participate in training. According to worker representatives, training also increases older workers’ satisfaction and motivation because they feel they are valued more by the company. Since it is felt that it is largely the older workers who ‘keep the company running’, due to their experience and greater professional abilities, it is also in the company’s interest to continue this initiative. The company is therefore aware of the importance of promoting initiatives that foster worker loyalty.
The impact and effectiveness of the measures have also been positive in terms of tangible signs of improvement in other areas. Company turnover is low thanks to continuous training, but also due to other initiatives introduced in the past, open to all employees including the older workers. Among the most important measures was an initiative that promoted a healthier working environment, especially for those involved in specific production processes around the paper machines. Working conditions in this area are quite tough because of noise levels and temperatures of up to about 40°C. Recently, control rooms were introduced for personnel; as a result, these workers are now isolated from the machine, which they control from a control room workstation. This has, in turn, reduced their exposure to noise and high temperatures. The initiative has been extremely important for older workers, since paper machine operators are almost all over 45 years of age.
Although it is not a formal policy, the recruitment of older workers takes place on an irregular basis in the company; in 2004, for example, two blue-collar workers over 45 years of age were recruited.
A future initiative that might have a positive impact on working conditions of older workers concerns the approval and application of a code of ethics that has already been drawn up and which is planned for the end of 2006. This initiative proposes that age be taken into account in relation to possible discrimination. It recommends that ‘equal professional opportunities must be guaranteed for all persons, without age, gender, social condition, political and trade union opinions, religion, race, nationality, sexual preferences, state of health conditioning and generally conditioning against any other characteristic of a personal nature’.
Worker representatives: Giuseppe Bifanti (Cisl), Claudio Meneghetti (Cisl)
Company website: www.cham-group.com/en/index.asp