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ABB gets involved in higher ed

Mentorships for young engineering women are among the cooperative programs the company undertakes in an effort to increase its pool of technical workers.

Young women who participated in the ABB mentorship program. 

With factories in Kecskemét and Vác, global power and automation technology company ABB says it is making room to grow in Hungary by fostering the development of the technical workforce of the future.

Tanja Vainio, country manager of ABB in Hungary, spoke with the Budapest Business Journal about the many initiatives her company is involved in, and how shortages in the technical and engineering fields can be overcome by adapting educational programs to meet the needs of industry.

Vainio recognizes the growing competition within the various sectors to attract the most qualified technical experts and engineers, and says there is a particular need for personnel in such fields as robotics, electrical and mechanical engineering and IT, but shifts in focus and changes to educational programs are not likely to be felt until the shortage is in full swing.

Choosing a career path, however, should begin before university, says Vainio; she believes it is never too early to get students to consider a life in engineering.

Young women are also a much-neglected source for the technical workforce but often need a little extra push to join a sector largely dominated by men. In this regard, ABB initiated two university programs in Hungary last year: A five-month mentorship program and a six-month scholarship, both aimed at female students. “The aim of the mentorship program is to strengthen the participation of women in the sector, and to help female students learn about the products, services and operations of an international firm,” says Vainio. Five students are mentored by professionals at ABB for five months and will be able to visit ABBʼs factories in Hungary and abroad and apply for internship positions at the company that could lead to full-time employment.

In addition to this, ABB has partnerships with more than 70 universities around the world, to help with the short- and long-term developments of their existing and future products and services in an environment that provides the most advanced equipment and computer programs. This helps student acquire practical and up-to-date knowledge on cutting edge systems that help them enter the job market with a competitive edge, says Vainio.

Outshining the competition

After investing in the advancement of its trainees and interns, it makes sense that ABB should want to keep them on board for as long as possible, and Vainio is quick to point out the most effective way to do this. “Only those companies that offer long-term attractive career advancement opportunities, professional challenges and adequate motivational tools are able to retain their workforce in the long run,” says Vainio, who believes that employees perform at their best when their interests and skills match their jobs.

ABB says it offers its employees stability, the chance to develop, international careers, and good salaries as well as cutting edge technologies, all characteristics that help make the company an attractive workplace, particularly for engineers who are currently in such high demand.

About ABB

ABB has an extensive product portfolio that ranges from simple switches to complex robots, to large transformers that control entire power networks and factories and provide secure and energy-efficient generation, transmission and distribution of electricity on an industrial scale. In Hungary, ABB employs an engineering team to develop solutions for the Hungarian market using existing ABB products and services.