Pero has also been active in other projects connecting industry and academia; therefore, we found his perspective very valuable for the future development of the internship programme and the knowledge triangle integration. We talked about the practical aspects of internship implementation in Colas Mineral Ltd but also about more strategic issues of education and employment possibilities for mining engineers in Croatia.
Let's start with learning something about Colas and Colas Mineral Ltd, a respected company and an attractive employer. What kind of a company is it?
Colas Hrvatska is one of the leading civil engineering companies in Croatia, founded in 1962. Throughout its history, the company has undergone a series of organizational and structural changes with a main goal to maintain excellence in its business. Since 2007, the company is a part of the large global group Colas S.A., which operates in 50 countries on 5 continents. Colas Hrvatska group produces asphalt mixtures in five plants across Croatia and Slovenia while the bitumen emulsion is being produced in one plant near Varaždin.
Colas Mineral ltd, as a daughter company to Colas Hrvatska, is in charge of exploitation of mineral resources and production of aggregates. Sand and gravel is being extracted from the gravel pit Hrastovljan, near Varaždin, while the exploitation of technical-construction stone is ongoing in the Puča quarry, which is situated in wide Zadar area. Belonging to the large Colas S.A. family enables us to share knowledge and experience, which is mandatory to maintain the leading position in our industry. In the addition to the standard products and services in civil engineering, we also offer new sustainable products based on recycled materials and technologies with the reduction of greenhouse gases emission and better energy efficiency.
We strongly believe that we owe our success and growth to our employees, therefore we encourage teamwork, trust, performance excellence and solution-oriented behavior in the company. In return we offer business challenges, stable employment and possibility of personal and professional development.
What is the key motivation of Colas Mineral Ltd to join the programme and work with students?
In general, Colas puts the relationship with the local and regional community as one of its priorities. We find it important to show that our strategic objectives, our vision and mission are reflected in everyday work. We all know that word-of-mouth is the most credible and the strongest tool in branding and marketing. By accepting interns, we want to prove our dedication to social sustainability and build an authentic image of the company as an attractive and reliable employer. Of course, the interest of Colas Mineral Ltd is also to be at the source of new and promising young professionals, thus creating a firm foundation for the expansion of the company in the region.
You have been personally involved in the ADRIA Internship Programme for more than a year, both as our main contact point in Colas Mineral Ltd but also as a mentor. How would you describe the course of one internship in your company?
ADRIA Internship Programme offers one to three months of internship. We have tried the shortest and the longest version and I have to say that we prefer that students use the maximum time available. The first two weeks of the internship consist of the same activities as in the case of real employment. The intern is guided through the company, introduced to health and safety rules and then with all levels of management and operation.
We are proud to say that an intern in Colas Mineral Ltd meets the President of the Management Board but also the employees working in the offices, in the plant and on the exploitation itself. Our objective is to provide an overview of the company policy and operation. By understanding the context, an intern can more easily carry out any task. In the following weeks the Intern is given specific assignments, comprising of both deskwork and fieldwork.
What are the typical assignments assigned to interns in your company? Are students usually independent when dealing with the entrusted task or they require frequent attention and supervision?
The assignments we give to the interns are different, never boring and always useful for both the company and the students. Previous tasks that they have been working on include aggregate market research, examination of the legal framework regulating waste disposal, mapping and measuring disposed material, doing research connected to the development plans of the company etc. The level of independence varies from student to student, and so is our mentoring approach. Some students require more supervision and guidance, while some do not need to be micromanaged and do their best if simply being left to work. I give my best to meet the person well in the beginning and define the best way to organize our collaboration.
What are your views on the problems of young mining engineers entering the labor market?
Croatian labor market, for young mining engineers, is quite harsh and challenging. Whether young professionals want to start at exploitation field or in a project planning company, there is another obstacle they need to surpass in order to fully utilize their master’s degree, which is the Professional exam. Luckily, the period needed for an engineer to be eligible to take the Professional exam is shortened last year, from two to one year of working experience in mining, but it still presents something unreachable for the most.
In my opinion, the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum engineering should work more closely with the industry and reach out to the mining companies in Croatia to see what kind of skill set is required or wanted from young professionals today. There are many supporting tasks and responsibilities, at field and in the office, that appointed responsible mining engineer must take care of daily, which presents a great opportunity for young mining engineer to join and help out, get the know-how, valuable experience and complete the 1-year internship as a result.
How interested is Colas Mineral to continue participating in the Programme and what would be your suggestions for improvement?
Colas Mineral is very interested to continue its participation in the Programme and we find the changes introduced in the Programme itself very beneficial. Firstly, the possibility to present the company at the ADRIA webpage and to be chosen by the student increases the possibility of getting a truly motivated student, who knows why he/she applied for this specific company.
Secondly, by enabling us to have an interview with the student prior to the contracting phase, both sides can assess the potential of the „match“ to result in fruitful cooperation. First impression has never failed us so far. Having in mind the future and probable expansion of the company in the region, we expect that further participation in the Programme can yield benefits for the us as an industry partner and for the students.
Thank you, Pero and Colas, for the valuable opinions and guidelines from the industry.