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Attractiveness on the labour market

Labour market capacity is naturally a strategic policy spearhead at Unica. Serious challenges facing society such as the energy transition and digitalisation are calling for more technically trained employees, but there are huge shortages of well-trained technical personnel. Maintaining the attractiveness of the company on the labour market therefore remains crucial to Unica’s growth strategy.

The priority in securing labour capacity lies with our current workforce. Employee engagement and staff retention are the cornerstones of Unica’s human resource policy. Opportunities for advancement in a variety of disciplines, both within an employee’s current specialisation or in other domains in which Unica is an active player, have a strong positive influence on staff retention. The fact that Unica continues to embrace its character as a family-owned business, so effectively put into practice at the local branches, helps underpin the loyalty and dedication of the workforce. Space for training and development, both professionally and personally, are other factors that make Unica stand out when it comes to attracting new employees. The collective labour agreement for the Metal & Engineering sector reached in 2022 was an added bonus. Over a period of 30 months, all participants in the agreement will receive a structural wage increase in excess of 8%. The majority of Unica employees are covered by this collective labour agreement.

As well as a focus on the existing population, the continued growth of Unica demands structural growth in the size of the workforce. Recruitment activities were intensified in 2022, both in terms of the size of the recruitment teams and the (online) recruitment tools that were used. Decentrally, efforts were focused on the recruitment of new employees, for example by organising information sessions at schools and for civil society organisations in the region and by organising local open days. The branch in Oosterhout and the Tiel branch of Kempen Koudetechniek, for example, organised career days to advertise the career opportunities within the company to the local community. The combination of central recruitment activities and decentral focus in 2022 resulted in a solid influx of new employees and significant growth compared with the previous year.

Unica is also working hard to reach out to new target groups, for example via social entrepreneurship and lateral entry from other sectors. One example of a new initiative is De Harde Leerschool. This foundation promotes an inclusive labour market, in which everyone has the opportunity to participate, with a particular focus on attracting candidates who deserve a new chance at making an active and positive contribution to society. With a no-nonsense approach, based around the sport of rugby, the programme developed by De Harde Leerschool helps boost personal resilience and once again makes people fit for employment. The foundation appeared on Unica’s radar after winning the Innovation Challenge, which led to a joint effort aimed at encouraging participants in the programmes to seek employment in engineering.

In 2023, more attention will be paid to the central structuring of the lateral entry projects that at present are still locally organised and supported. The company Working Spirit, acquired by Unica in 2022, has already identified opportunities for ICT specialists in the lateral entry projects. From the Working Spirit Academy, candidates without an ICT background will be offered a course of job retraining. Training programmes have already been launched among others for Dutch Railways (NS) and software company Topicus, in 2022, as a way of meeting the ICT needs of these customers.

The diversity platform Unique, that was launched to reinforce the culture of diversity, organised a number of meetings in 2022 aimed at improving gender equality within Unica. Although more women have been put forward in the recruitment programmes and female participation at Unica is in line with other companies in the sector, the intake level has not yet reached the ambition of a gender ratio that reflects international business standards. Attracting technical (female) talent will therefore remain a priority, while at the same time the diversity platform will be shifting its focus further towards making Unica a more inclusive company, which clearly goes beyond a balanced gender ratio.