The opportunities that we have in our future lives are substantially decided in our childhood and teenage years. Education is the key to long-term wellbeing and promising opportunities for the future. This applies equally to individuals and entire nations. High-quality education for everyone is a goal that humankind has come a lot closer to over the past decades – but there is still a long way to go. Currently, OECD member countries spend about 5 percent of gross domestic product on education. In the least developed countries, this is just slightly above 3 percent. In the latter, the enrollment rate for elementary schools rose from 83 to more than 90 percent between 2000 and 2015. However, it is also a fact that children in the poorest households are four times as likely to be out of school as those in the richest households in the same countries (source: United Nations: The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015, p. 24).
Education is a requirement for good work. This also applies in developed nations in which the workplace is changing radically as a result of digitization. The social partners must prepare their workforces for this. Good advanced training is a continuing aspiration – worldwide, in different industries, and in all occupation groups. Ultimately, it is also an important driver of sustainable development. After all, education and good work are the necessary starting points for achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
At the end of 2016, Evonik had about 1,950 young apprentices and trainees in Germany. At 17 sites, young people are trained in more than 40 recognized occupations and in cooperative studies and university courses to accompany the on-site training. Much of the teaching and learning content is also available online in Chinese and English.
In the “Start in den Beruf” (Starting a Career) program, Evonik supports young people who have not been able to find an apprenticeship or trainee position and who do not yet have the requirements for starting vocational training. Refugees are also taking part in the program.
With “Young Spirit”, Evonik launched a program to awaken an interest in the natural sciences amongst young people and to encourage them to consider this as a career. Evonik employees visit kindergartens and elementary schools and inspire children with experiments for scientific phenomena to which they can contribute. Evonik is taking new ways with the “Evonik Cyber Classroom”, which is used by partner schools worldwide to demonstrate scientific connections with 3D technology.
In the “Summer Professional Enrichment” (SPE) program, Evonik offers university students in the fields of engineering, chemistry, and business, internships across its sites in the USA. Recent graduates in the United States can also take part in the “International Professional Rotational Enrichment Program” (IPREP). During the two-year program, participants rotate between three different areas of work – two in the USA and one in another country. Throughout the rotations, participants acquire on-the-job experience and exposure to different professional functions, business lines and geographic locations, which prepare them for subsequent positions in the company.
One of the focuses of the Evonik Foundation is awarding grants and scholarships to promote scientific research work, mainly for doctoral degrees. The “Germany Scholarship” is another key project. With about 200 scholarship holders, the foundation is one of the biggest promoters of the program, which was launched by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Support is given to students who stand out due to their good study performance but also through their social commitment.
Together with the Evonik Stiftung and local partners, Evonik is supporting an Utho Ngathi project in South Africa to assist people with disabilities. Breeding and selling chickens and eggs provides a small income for the employees. Within the scope of this, they are provided with special information about successful chicken breeding, commercial knowledge, and taught how to use computers. This gives the employees a chance to determine their own lives and help to provide food to their village communities at the same time.