For over a decade, ofi has developed the next generation of process engineers and technical excellence in the Netherlands in partnership with Food & Process Tech Campus of Regio College in Zaandam. Tijmen Hoeve, ofi's Training Coordinator, shares three reasons why we invest in internships and how they add value to our operations and the wider society:
Developing in-demand skills
It all started with a skills gap in the industry. In the Netherlands, we have a shortage of technical skilled occupations such as engineers, ICT, and technicians, and the Covid pandemic hasn't helped the situation either. European Commission reported that in 2022, there is still a shortage of engineers. And to highlight the labor issues on the continent, it announced 2023 as the European Year of Skills.
This challenge also requires long-term support and investment to make a difference. The internship ofi offers, which has been running since 2012, is connected to the Food & Process Tech Campus program. The four-year course, aimed at 17-21year olds, gives students a mix of theory and practical experiences in a real-life setting. Over four years, students can apply their technical understanding in our facilities in Koog aan de Zaan or Wormer.
Investing in the future
Equipping students with the right skills to enter the workforce is a way to help future-proof the industry. Since 2012, ofi has given 5,000 euros annually to the college, which has helped to fund its practical room and the necessary safety equipment and contributed towards the teacher's salary. In some cases, we've even employed some students who have come through the program. It's a great way to develop talent that deeply understands your business.
Giving back to the community
I started my career in the food industry, working in various roles in food engineering. After 12 years of food tech, I channeled my passion into training the next generation of process engineers. Teaching is in my blood. My grandfather was a headmaster, and my father was a teacher, as is my brother, so I felt like a natural next step in my career.
When I moved into education, I helped develop the curriculum for the Food & Process Tech Campus course and have previously worked at the college itself, so I have a strong understanding of what the students need to be successful in the course and to transition into the industry. I'm proud we support a local college, within walking distance of our facility in Koog aan de Zaan. Hear from Zlatan what it's like to be an intern at ofi.