24-year-old Shi Xichen knows exactly he likes best about his job at Evonik : "I love analyzing data." Shi Xichen works at Evonik's site in Shanghai, where the Performance Polymers Business Unit produces starting products for high-performance polymers. Shi Xichen has samples of them on his laboratory workbench every day. In Germany, he would probably have taken a three and a half year vocational training course to qualify as a chemical laboratory technician. However, China does not have a training system that offers a comparable blend of theoretical instruction and hands-on practical experience in the workplace.
Evonik has therefore made its own arrangements to secure the skills it needs for its plants in China. For example, it cooperates with the Shanghai Petrochemical Academy (SPA) in the Jinshan district of the city. It was here that Shi Xichen received his training. The Academy provides a four-year vocational training program for more than a hundred young people after their basic schooling. Alongside financial support, Evonik provides equipment for the Academy. For example, it donated a training facility where students can practice working with pumps. Incidentally, it was constructed by apprentices and instructors from Evonik's site in Marl (Germany).
All students at SPA attend the same theoretical classes for the first two years. In the third year they are split, with about 30 students a year being allocated to a special "Evonik Class." The fourth and final year is dedicated to practical training. The students in the Evonik Class spend the entire academic year on an internship at Evonik, where they learn the practical aspects of their potential future jobs. At the end of that period, Evonik decides which of them to hire. As a cooperation partner, Evonik has first choice among the graduates in the Evonik Class.