Most cities are trying to do a better job at managing resources such as water, power, gas and waste. And most cities are trying to find jobs for the chronically under-employed. Here's an idea from Veolia that combines the two. Rather that use old-fashioned recruiting techniques, Veolia set up a training academy that lets both sides get a "taste test." Potential employees get valuable training while learning whether they'd be happy on the job. And Veolia gets to see which students will make the best employees. They applied the idea to waste management, but the same concept could work in many other areas as well. -- Jesse Berst
When Council Associate Partner Veolia needed employees for its street cleaning operations in the UK, it collaborated with the Department of Working Pensions and Westminster Kingsway College to set up a training academy -- and offered the training opportunity to local people who had been struggling to find a job for a very long time, many of them for years.
Out of the first group of nine trainees, five landed jobs with Veolia's operation in Camden. The bonus for the successful trainees of course is they now have fulltime jobs. The benefit for Veolia was they learned much more about the employees they chose than they ever would have in an interview.
How the program works
The program, Veolia Academy for Street Cleaners, took the candidates through a week that began with three days of instruction in health, safety, teamwork and customer service, two days of on-the-job training and a day of training on interviews.
The trainees chosen as employees had been out of work for anywhere from 18 months to 14 years. As one of the successful candidates, Elliot Roche, told CIWM Journal Online, "I was previously a chef and then I started my business but I struggled to find enough work and had been unemployed for 18 months. I'm very happy to have secured a position. The work is good and I like being out and about speaking to people on my regular beat. I'm keen to take advantage of the training and development the company can offer to help me progress."
Veolia interim recruitment manager Samantha Bradford wants to see more of this type of training program, which the company hopes it can continue in other locations. "We have suspected for a long time that the traditional recruiting method of CV and interview means that for some of our roles we are missing the best candidates. I am hoping that we will be able to replicate the success of this program across our business and change the way that we recruit for these types of roles for the benefit of our management teams and job seekers alike."
Teresa Davey, Veolia street cleaning manager in Camden, agreed. "Through the academy program, we get to see candidates in action and they get a chance to decide if the job is right for them."
New waste sorting robots are on the job too
Veolia is involved in far more than street cleaning. The global company is involved in providing waste recovery-focused solutions in the waste, water and energy sectors -- and that includes waste management. To enhance efficiency and cut costs in its waste sorting operations in France, the company has begun integrating robotics technology.
The ZenRobotics Recycler picks raw materials that can be re-used out of the mixed waste Veolia processes. As ZenRobotics CEO Timo Taalas explained, "Robotic sorting is rapidly transforming the waste industry and we are pleased to see that one of the largest companies in waste management has chosen our technology."
Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.