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  • 01/04/2023
  • Blog

Building skills for our GREENSTEEL future

     Denise TimnsChief Human Resources OfficerBio


  • New wave of green skills is vital to achieve decarbonised industry and business success
  • GREENSTEEL Academy mission to engage, inspire and develop the workforce
  • Skills initiatives being rolled out across global LIBERTY locations
  • GFG Foundation pushing ahead with schools mentoring programmes

Skills are the lifeblood of any organisation. Harnessed well they can overcome challenges, spark new thinking and secure competitive advantage. A culture that values expertise and encourages continuous learning is the secret formula to keep a company’s greatest asset – its people – productive and positive.

It’s especially true of an industry that faces big, difficult change – as is the case for steel over the next twenty years. Already responsible for up to 9% of global emissions – and with demand expected to increase by more than a third by 2050 – we need to build a future workforce with the skills to both sustain and transform the industry.

This creates both risk and opportunity. The scale of change and level of investment needed will put some businesses under threat.  But there is huge opportunity too. The coming wave of ‘green jobs’ to drive decarbonisation will demand a fresh set of skills from both existing colleagues and new joiners. Already facing shortages for steel industry skills and with an ageing workforce, attracting a future generation into all our roles is critical for both now and the future.


Talent development is a crucial part of LIBERTY’s aim to revolutionize the steel industry and make its own operations carbon-neutral by 2030 (CN30). At the heart of our efforts is our GREENSTEEL Academy. Established in January 2021, its mission is simple: to engage, inspire and develop the workforce of today and tomorrow through innovative development programmes which develop the skills that are needed to sustain and transform our business.

To date, the Academy has delivered worldwide and regional programmes and learning channels which are helping people understand and engage with the compelling case for change to the way we make steel. The Academy’s interactive eLearning modules cover topics such as Climate Change and Steelmaking Fundamentals using traditional and greener methods of steelmaking. New resources are being developed all the time.  Some modules are available externally and can be found by visiting this site: GREENSTEEL Academy.

In-country programmes – Australia

LIBERTY’s international scope, ranging from Australia to America, means we are seeing plenty of in-country examples of our skills development drive.

At our Whyalla steelworks in South Australia, we’ve just placed 31 new graduates as part of the Pipeline Program that also includes vacation university student placements, apprentices and trainees. Building on the intake of 28 graduates last year, the new crop of graduates have all completed university studies in their chosen fields which include engineering disciplines such as electrical, mechanical, metallurgy, chemical, geology, environment and procurement.

It dovetails with Whyalla’s four-year apprenticeship programme available in numerous disciplines, including mechanical fitter, fabricator, machinist, and electrician. Apprentices will complete on-the-job training, rotate across sites, and receive mentorship to support their development. We partner with the Australian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy regarding professional development for mining and metallurgical engineers.

Also in Australia, 18 fresh faces have been introduced to the company’s Australian operations in a three-month vacation programme, ranging from Whyalla’s Mining Primary Steel businesses, the LIBERTY Bell Bay Manganese Smelter in Tasmania and the Tahmoor Coal Operations in New South Wales. The students, in their penultimate year of university courses ranging across engineering disciplines, are assigned to a relevant area of the business to apply their theoretical knowledge, gain experience in an operational setting and work on projects.

“It is a chance for them to get a hands-on insight into the business and hopefully apply for graduate positions in the next intake once they have finished their studies,” says Bianca Standing, Head of Organisation Development, Liberty Primary Metals Australia.

In-country programmes – Europe

In Europe, we are embracing new ideas to transform how colleagues operate existing technologies. The Rolling Academy at LIBERTY Ostrava in the Czech Republic has in recent months held two specialised courses for 18 employees, teaching theoretical knowledge and practical skills around metal rolling processes and technology. Ostrava’s Coke Production Academy, created with the Technical University of Ostrava, also provides employees with a detailed introduction to coke making. The plant’s annual Learning Week also helps employees develop skills outside their day-to-day jobs, financial literacy, first aid and data analytics.

Diversity is also a critical element to skills training and so LIBERTY Ostrava is actively working to recruit and retain women. The plant is building connections with local universities to encourage students to work in areas such as mechanical engineering. It encourages students into part-time jobs or to write their bachelors or diploma works at the plant.

In Romania, LIBERTY Galati last year held its eleventh Summer School internship with 37 students who each spent ten weeks with experienced mentors. The programme enables students to understand the steel industry and contribute innovative ideas as it moves towards a low-carbon future. 440 students have graduated from the LIBERTY Galati Summer School since its launch in 2012 and 150 of them have joined the company.

Alongside this LIBERTY Galaţi delivers vocational classes in partnership with the Paul Dimo, Radu Negru and Costache Conachi high schools, delivering a programme of thematic sessions, including one on climate change for high school students. We are partnering with the Technical University Dunarea de Jos to develop a GREENSTEEL for Students degree level programme, which students can bolt onto their degree programmes to highlight the steel industry and our CN30 transformation.

“The new technologies we intend to implement are unique in Europe and in the world, and the GREENSTEEL plans will make history in Galati. Our team plays a key role in this journey and upskilling our existing workforce is a priority for us, but we also need the support of the younger generation who can contribute innovative ideas and solutions to create the next gen workforce,” said Ajay Aggarwal, President of LIBERTY Steel Group Europe and Chairman of the Board LIBERTY Galati.

In-country programmes – USA

Our Liberty Steel USA sites are deploying a wide range of internal apprenticeship programmes in partnership with local institutions. At Peoria, Illinois, for example, the first cohort of electrical apprentices benefited from a partnership between Liberty Steel, Illinois Central College, and the State of Illinois. Applications for the second cohort have begun to come in. Alongside this, a partnership with Bradley University will allow professional programming for Virtual Reality (VR) training modules, with an initial module in forklift driving. In Georgetown, South Carolina, Electrical and Mechanical apprenticeships are being developed with Horry Georgetown Technical College.

Learning channel

Since its inception, the GREENSTEEL Academy has helped the workforce develop next-generation skills and have thus contributed to the company’s CN30 mission. It takes pride in continuing to do so. All employees are considered to be students of the Academy and are encouraged to join the learning channel: Discover GREENSTEEL Academy, where they can learn fast facts, used the pinned resources, which include a ‘rescue kit’ for new joiners and sign up to participate in future skills related webinars and events.

Regional teams deliver professional development programmes for apprentices, interns and graduates, which provide skills to enable the transition to working life. The learning focuses on soft and life skills as well as technical know-how, including project work where students are mentored by business and technical leaders. LIBERTY students can learn at work and at partner schools and colleges.

GFG Foundation

The GFG Foundation, established six years ago to develop the skills needed to help people pursue careers in engineering, metals and renewable energy, is another crucial element of our work. We run school programmes in areas where GFG has a significant business presence to help students develop the STEM skills that will support them through their careers.

Last year, for example, we launched a pilot mentoring programme at LIBERTY Steel UK in South Yorkshire in which students from two local schools were mentored through a 12-week ‘Renewable Rotherham’ project, which had the challenge of choosing a local public building or area, and to redesign it to be more environmentally friendly. This year’s programme will host double the number of students.

In Australia the Foundation runs highly successful student programmes in South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania, in partnership with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Prince’s Trust Australia. The Foundation was established in Romania in 2021 and launched into the Czech Republic the following year. The aim is to expand the GFG Foundation into all countries where the GFG Alliance has a business presence.

LIBERTY is pushing for change to achieve a greener sector and future. Inspiring leadership, a clear vision and strategy only get us so far. Our comprehensive package of initiatives will help colleagues of the present and the future develop the new green industrial skills that will equip us to achieve our ambitious targets.

GREENSTEEL Academy Connect Event in Galati