We believe our employees should have the opportunity to use their personal and professional strengths and talents at Fresenius Medical Care to the best possible extent and to constantly improve these on a career path as specialist personnel, managers or project managers. To achieve this, we are committed to life-long learning, providing continuous feedback on performance and work quality, and offering professional challenges in line with employees’ abilities, including working abroad, as part of our personnel development. Our human resources management team supports executives in implementing these tools throughout the Company with advice and comprehensive training.
Tailored employee training
In collaboration with the Danube University Krems in Austria, with which we also cooperate on research projects (see also “Research and development” chapter), we offer a part-time MBA program for qualified employees who have not had any formal business training. In this way, we as a dialysis company engaged in research can prepare scientists and physicians for management and leadership functions. We promote our research and development employees with a seminar program covering a wide range of subjects from project management to legal, scientific and technical topics.
As one of the largest employers of medical personnel worldwide, we place great value on providing training and further educational development opportunities to our specialized dialysis personnel. For example, in 2008, we introduced the UltraCare Clinical Advancement Program (UCAP) as a pilot personnel development program in the U.S. We have been expanding this pilot to further clinics in the past two years and continuously developing it based on our findings from regular focus group interviews with program participants. By the end of 2010, around 300 dialysis nurses had signed up for UCAP; we expect an additional 400 nurses to enroll by the end of 2011. The UCAP comprises five developmental levels and targets new and experienced employees in clinics as well as in the field of home therapy and acute dialysis. The program helps dialysis nurses to develop and expand their specialist knowledge and leadership skills and aims to retain them in the Company by preparing them for the next step in their career, such as becoming a clinical manager, a clinical educator to patients, or a mentor to clinic staff. The program also includes training on the topics of clinical practice and treatment quality, thus educating participants in core areas of our comprehensive UltraCare therapy concept; see chapter “Our dialysis servicebusiness” for more information. In this way, it contributes to further improving the quality of our dialysis services. In 2011, we will roll out UCAP to further clinics in the U.S., with the ultimate aim of offering it to all our dialysis nurses in North America. As in 2010, this year we will again ask participants about their experience with UCAP, so that we can tailor the program even better to our employees’ needs.
In the U.S., to support clinical managers on site and encourage them to set an example to other employees, in addition to the standard training courses, we also use programs like Mentor Connection, in which experienced clinical managers advise their new colleagues. We also recognize clinical managers who are particularly committed to their patients and employees and achieve excellent treatment results in their dialysis centers.
Top managers at Fresenius Medical Care take part in the Fresenius Advanced Management Program of Fresenius. In 2011, this program will be redesigned together with the Harvard Business School as a cooperative partner.
New forms of learning
A medium that is becoming ever more important in all facets of personnel development at Fresenius Medical Care is e-learning – digital training courses via the internet and intranet. At the end of 2010, around 11,500 employees had signed up to the Online Learning Center in the EMEALA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America), almost twice as many as at the end of 2009. We also introduced an e-learning-portal in the U.S., the Learning Management System, in the year under review. This is now being used for compulsory compliance training for all employees and will be developed into a learning tool with a wide variety of content in the next few years. Fresenius Medical Care intends to integrate e-learning to a greater extent in personnel development in the form of “blended learning”. By linking e-learning with direct communication in classroom teaching and hands-on learning at the workplace, we can efficiently prepare employees for the increasing complexity of our fast-growing international Company, while at the same time catering for their individual requirements in terms of learning speed, flexibility and mobility.
Vocational training for young people
In Germany, we are also investing in the Company’s future by offering young people vocational training. Fresenius Medical Care has a very international outlook, with relatively few employees in Germany see here. However, since we train together with Fresenius, we can prepare young men and women for a variety of recognized trades, from electronics technicians for devices and systems, IT specialists and biological and chemical laboratory technicians to industrial business management assistants and industrial mechanics. In 2010, we again expanded our range of vocational training programs. For example, we offered a two-year industrial electrician apprenticeship training course in Schweinfurt for the first time. This program is also suitable for very good students from Hauptschulen (lower secondary schools). Starting in 2011, the facility will also train systems IT specialists.
In the reporting year, together with the Fresenius Group (not including their business segment Helios Clinics, whose training is coordinated separately) we provided 369 apprentices with vocational training. This raises the number of apprentices at all locations in Germany by 14% (2009: +7%).
In addition, in 2010, 49 students were enrolled in workstudy courses, such as business information technology and international business administration that Fresenius offers in cooperation with several universities. In 2011, new work-study programs will be added, for example healthcare management. This course combines international business administration with science and health policy content such as social and health insurance systems, and prepares graduates for a career in the health industry, for example at a pharmaceutical or medical technology company.
We also organize initiatives, such as the annual management simulation game, in which apprentices from all specialist areas, age groups and locations assume the role of an entrepreneur. In addition to their formal professional training, the young people also learn social skills that are crucial in professional life, such as team spirit and a sense of responsibility. Fresenius Medical Care apprentices were once again recognized for their outstanding performance in the year under review, garnering local chamber of commerce and federal awards. In the last few years, we have been able to successfully recruit all apprentices and students of vocational colleges who completed their courses with good grades, and many of them have remained loyal to our Company. At the Schweinfurt location, for example, around 60% of all former apprentices who have completed vocational training programs since these were introduced 25 years ago are still working at the Company today. All work-study graduates who we employed in regular positions were still with Fresenius three years later, around half of them at Fresenius Medical Care.
Together with Fresenius, we cooperate with schools to organize information days, company tours, internships and job application training, with the aim of getting young people to consider a career at Fresenius Medical Care. Thanks in large part to these initiatives, and against the overall trend on the market, we again received more good applications for apprenticeship training in 2010 than in the previous year. We also support projects designed to improve young people’s opportunities on the job market. For example, starting in 2011, we will offer internships as part of the Germany-wide “Joblinge” initiative with the objective of placing students from Hauptschulen in apprenticeship training positions. We also took part in Girls’ Day again in 2010. The aim of this nation-wide action day is to interest girls in technical and scientific professions that are still considered the preserve of men.
Fresenius Medical Care respects and promotes diversity. We are convinced that only through different views, opinions, cultural backgrounds and experiences the full potential can be tapped that has made us successful. One of the most important factors is the international background of our executives, in particular. To us, diversity also means to identify and further reduce any potential obstacles to the development and promotion of female employees. We endeavour to consider women also in future hiring decisions for leading positions which will be supported by concrete measures such as flexible working hours and part-time programs. However, we will not use fixed quotas to that end, as they would generally limit the selection of qualified candidates. We believe that an open corporate culture can only endure, when the recruitment and promotion of all employees are subject to the same conditions. Generally, the selection of employees needs to be aligned to the enterprise’s interest, so that in filling of positions the qualification of each individual is of precedence.