Brazil - 2013
Workforce Development Projects Bring Employment Opportunities to Juruti
Facing significant challenges in obtaining a skilled, diverse workforce for its Juruti Mine in the heart of the Amazon, Alcoa partnered with governmental and educational institutions to train and educate local citizens. Today, approximately 80% of the mine’s employees are from the Brazilian state in which the mine is located.
Juruti, a geographically isolated community located 846 kilometers (526 miles) from the Pará state capital of Belém, had a traditional Amazonian economy based on hunting, fishing, and subsistence farming. The region’s citizens lacked technical and vocational experience, and there was no vocational training available.
To develop the local workforce, Alcoa focused on skills training, public education support, and university partnerships.
In partnership with the National Service for Industrial Training (Senai), Alcoa created skills training courses to improve employment prospects for the citizens of Juruti and develop a skilled workforce for its mine and other regional employers.
Initial training conducted in 2006 focused on the community’s general needs, such as baking, basic information technology, and bicycle maintenance. Courses then were added for builders, carpenters, metal workers, and topography assistants to develop the workforce necessary for the mine’s construction. In preparation for the mine’s startup, operation and maintenance training courses were offered. Additional courses were added each year, including mining and electromechanical. More than 3,200 students took almost 200 courses between 2006 and mid-2013.
The initial courses were conducted on a specially designed school ship that could navigate the waterways to reach Juruti until a permanent structure could be built. Alcoa invested US$2.6 million to build the 1,000-square-meter (10,763-square-foot) training center that houses nine classrooms, eight laboratories, and administrative areas.
“People who previously had no opportunity to attend a course at Senai have managed to graduate and get a job,” said Regia Maria Gomes Pinheiro, municipal secretary of education for Juruti. “This push that Alcoa has given to education has led many people to find their place and seize the opportunities offered to them. Furthermore, we can see an impact on the economy and development in Juruti.”
Public Education Support
In partnership with the local government, Alcoa helped strengthen the educational system through support of the following:
- Developing school teaching policies;
- Setting up school councils and the Municipal Education Council;
- Creating the Municipal Education Plan;
- Offering 35 training courses to more than 2,300 education professionals, including teachers, managers, technicians, and school support staff.
The number of students enrolled in public school grew from 12,929 in 2000 to 19,700 in mid-2013, while the number of teachers with a university degree in the Juruti urban area increased from 12 to 170 during the same period.
Alcoa’s support also extended to funding the construction of 16 classrooms in existing schools in the city.
Alcoa collaborated with the Federal University of the West of Pará (Ufopa), the Fulbright Commission in Brazil, and the U.S. Embassy to have a chair in science and environmental engineering maintained at Ufopa.
Another agreement between Alcoa and Ufopa that was signed in 2013 will establish a university campus in Juruti to provide mining and agricultural engineering courses.
In addition to building skills in the local workforce, Alcoa focused on ensuring the women of the region had access to the mine’s employment opportunities through a structured approach that covered training, recruitment, selection, and development. As of mid-2013, women accounted for 2% of the graduates of the skills training courses and 19% of Alcoa’s Juruti workforce, with 32% holding leadership positions.
Lauriana da Silva Guimarães joined Alcoa in 2009 after participating in the skills training program. She is an industrial equipment operator II in the mine’s classification plant, where bauxite ore is washed and classified.
“I have two children, and this job gives my family financial security,” said da Silvia Guimarães. “I have been able to build a home, which is one of the things besides learning that has changed my quality of life. I have finished high school, and I am currently a member of the mining technician class at Senai. Overall, it has been a transformational experience. Without the opportunity Alcoa has afforded me, I surely would not have remained in Juruti.”