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The SIRA programme was devised by the non-profit organisation ‘Scheikundige Industrie Regio Antwerpen (SIRA)’ in collaboration with social partners (ABVV, BBTK, ACV, LBC-NVK). The project began in 1987 because applicants for jobs with Antwerp’s chemical companies were lacking a qualification which would make them suitable recruits. A typical feature of the chemical industry is the complex technology used within its production processes and methods.

Thanks to the SIRA project, alongside their internal training programmes and initiatives, chemical companies now also contribute towards the (re)training of young people between the ages of 18 and 25. The main aim is to train under-qualified young people for a career in the chemical sector and, in turn, increase their employment opportunities.

From September to June, the youngsters go to school on Mondays and Tuesdays and spend the rest of the working week on a work placement, which involves observation and work tasks at a company under the supervision of a shift leader. Learning and working are closely related: the theory learned in the classroom is then applied in practice within the company. In 32 years, a total of 940 qualified youngsters have followed this path into the sector and this year has seen a record of 48 young people completing their work placements in one of the participating companies.

Participating companies: 3M, Air Liquide, Ashland Specialities Belgium, BASF Antwerpen, Bayer NV, Borealis Antwerpen, Borealis Kallo, Covestro, Eurochem Antwerpen, Evonik Antwerpen, ExxonMobil Chemical, Indaver Antwerpen, Ineos Manufacturing, Ineos Oxide, Ineos Styrolution Belgium, Inovyn Belgium, Inovyn Manufacturing Belgium, Lanxess, Monument Chemical, SVEX, Total Olefins Antwerp

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