Training and education

The goal to have 5–7% of the workforce represented by apprentices or employees in a dual education program over a long-term period was achieved in 2019 with the reported figure of 6.3% (2018: 6.6%).


Disclosure 103-1 Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

SFS strongly supports employee training and education. This material topic is embedded into SFS Group’s strategy, which underscores the high importance that company management accords to this topic. In the Group's strategy, SFS commits itself to a long-term partnership between employer and employee, underpinned by a strong emotional connection and mutual trust. For their part, employees take responsibility, live the same culture and values, and strive for continuous improvement. SFS views its innovation capacity as a key element in ensuring its sustained success. Consequently, it is also written in SFS’ Corporate Principles that these goals are to be achieved by, inter alia, nurture of a highly skilled workforce. SFS is therefore committed to employee empowerment and to growing and developing its employees’ professional competence. Dual education is also vital to SFS’ efforts to maintain and expand its competencies in its core production technologies, as this system is an effective means of selectively building and developing an internal pool of skilled workers.

The disclosures below are based on data that covers approximately 88% of the company’s workforce. Employees whose work is controlled by SFS, but who do not have a permanent employment contract with SFS (temporary employees) are not covered in these disclosures. Not every site has fully implemented Group reporting processes (for example, because they were acquired during the reporting period), so some employee data is still lacking or is incomplete. The survey results reported for each site are based on the applicable site-specific legal basis.

The means and methods by which SFS promotes training and development are determined locally by each site or at the respective country-level subsidiary. In Switzerland, for example, a country-wide Group document defines the scope and content of training and development policies, the financial support and paid leave provided for training purposes, and repayment obligations.

GRI 103-2 The management approach and its components

SFS offers effective training programs to enhance the specific skill sets of its employees at every level of the organization in line with their potential. Thus, it builds and grows an internal pool of talent that can be tapped to fill key positions or vacancies when needed. This company policy enables far-sighted succession planning.

SFS Group supports the dual system of vocational education and training to cultivate internal talent with that same goal in mind. To this end, modern training centres have been set up at sites throughout the Group, and SFS fosters interaction with schools and parents in order to offer young members of the workforce an enriching and hands-on alternative to academic studies.

The following KPIs for training and development activities have been defined in the company’s strategy and are reviewed on an annual basis:

Dual vocational training: SFS aims to have 5–7% of its permanent headcount worldwide enrolled in training programs over a long-term period (2019: 6.3%, 2018: 6.6%).

The divisional managing directors are responsible for achieving this goal. Together with the managers of the sites in their division, they develop programs in line with the general local environment and the country-specific education laws and practices.

A special HR peer group was created to ensure group-wide interaction and facilitate cross-site programs, such as international exchange programs.

The Corporate HR department is responsible for evaluation of goal achievement; the Group Executive Board is informed of the level of goal achievement.

Key positions (members of divisional management and site managers): SFS aims to fill more than 70% of its management vacancies with internal candidates (2019: 80%, 2018: 66%)

Here, too, the divisional managing directors are responsible for achieving this goal. They screen potential successor candidates and promote the career development of high-performing employees by means of the group-wide SEDP (Structured Employee Development Program). This process is initiated and coordinated annually by the Corporate HR department.

The Corporate HR department is similarly responsible for evaluation of goal achievement and it reports to the Group Executive Board on progress towards goal achievement.

Training and development activities are adapted to the evolving needs of the Group and the divisions. Program adaptations also reflect the increasing use of digital training methods (eLearning, webinars, etc.). Actual training needs are ascertained through the Group-wide MbO (Management by Objectives) process, which brings supervisors and employees together to set development goals.

SFS has established an internationally uniform process with the following objectives for these regular employee performance reviews (MbO):

  • Achievement of the overriding objectives (company goals)
  • Appraisal of employee performance and conduct
  • Employee identification with the objectives
  • Employee motivation
  • Identification of employee development needs and evaluation of training effectiveness

SFS also wants to achieve greater consistency in terms of international training opportunities across SFS Group. The Leadership@SFS project was launched during the reporting year at the initiative of the Group Executive Board. The objective is to promote the development of management talent throughout SFS Group and to identity potential candidates at the earliest opportunity. A core team has been established to coordinate this project. Together with an international project team, it is responsible for formulating the concept and ensuring a steady flow of communication between the project team and the Group Executive Board. The concept will be presented to the Group Executive Board in summer 2020, after which the board will decide the steps to take next and the timeframe.

Disclosure 103-3 Evaluation of the management approach

The management approach is evaluated internally by the respective divisional management and externally within the scope of audits.

The results are reported internally via divisional management and at Group-level management. External disclosures were previously made in the Annual Report; they are now made in the Sustainability Report.

Data collection at Group level is still a challenge, as a uniform reporting process has not yet been implemented throughout the Group. SFS is steadfastly pursuing the ongoing implementation of its reporting processes and aims to have a uniform reporting process in place within the next three years.


Disclosure 404-3 Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews

Percentage of employees who received a performance review during the year under review (prior-year percentage in parentheses).

Data was collected at 43 of the 53 legal entities that belong to SFS Group. The number of employees (8,577 Headcounts) covered by this data during the year under review represented approximately 88% of SFS Group's total permanent headcount.

Due to the first-time collection of the data, no previous values ​​are available. An additional breakdown by professional groups is planned for the coming reporting period.

The number of employees refers only to permanent employees of SFS Group and does not include employees who are not on a permanent contract but whose work and/or workplace is controlled by SFS Group (temporary workers).

Share of employees with a performance review in the reporting year
in %
in %
in %

¹Employees with a performance review in relation to the total number of employees who were taken into account in the data collection.

²Female employees with a performance review in relation to all female employees who were taken into account in the data collection.

³Male employees with a performance review in relation to all male employees that were taken into account in the data collection.