NRC Group raises unskilled workers to vocational qualifications

NRC Group is strongly committed to providing unskilled workers with formal competence. 31 experienced concrete workers from Poland have, during the past year, taken professional certificates as practical candidates. - This is important both for the NRC and for those of us who have taken professional certificates, says supervisor Robert Daniel Pytlas.

, by Eline Dalland

In the picture: Most of the Polish-speaking concrete workers in the NRC Group have now taken professional certificates in Norway. Here are some of those who are working to expand the port in Drammen, on the NRC project Kattegat Kai.

From the left: Błażej Minda, Robert Pytlas, Łukasz Ognisty, Emil Borkowski, Witold Kolaczyk, Radosław Kołowrocki, Marek Biszczanik, Jarosław Boratyń, Bogdan Molenda, Wiesław Pisiak, Rafał Poręba, Jacek Kotlarz and Zygmunt Bubniak

UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (UN SDG 4) is about securing inclusive and fair education and lifelong learning. Each of the other 16 SDGs must rest on education's foundation—because all research, advancement, and development must proceed from education. The training of the Polish concrete workers is one of our contributions to SDG 4:

Robert Daniel Pytlas himself was among the first concrete workers from Poland to take a vocational certificate as a practical candidate while working in NRC Group.

- I am very happy that we have been given this opportunity to take professional certificates. For NRC, it is important to have skilled concrete workers. And for us it has great value. It makes us feel valued, that you are worthy. We know that it will be easier to get a job after this, and provides a feeling of security and stability, says Pytlas.

After he received his qualification in February 2022, most of his colleagues have done the same. Several are now ready for the exam, and by June the vast majority of NRC's 52 concrete workers from Poland will have their professional certificate in place.

Language as the biggest challenge

- These are experienced professionals who already had the knowledge and the skills. They just needed to get it formalized in Norway. It has been important for us to get this in place, says training manager Even Hedland in NRC Group Norway, who has led the follow-up of the concrete workers.

In order to take a certificate as a candidate for practice, you must have at least five years of practice in the subject. The candidates then have to go through both a practical test and a theory exam in Norwegian.

- At the beginning I knew nothing about what this was, and training leader Even has made a fantastic effort to help us. I kept calling with new questions, and always got the help I needed, says Pytlas.

The five-hour written theory exam in Norwegian has been the biggest challenge for the Polish-speaking concrete workers.

- Before the exam, we created intensive courses where they received help from both Norwegian teachers and subject teachers to learn how to do a written exam in Norwegian, says training manager Even Hedland.

Robert Daniel Pytlas

A win-win situation

The preparation courses were created in collaboration with Byggopp, the Education Office for the construction and civil engineering profession, EBA and the Education Office OKAB. The courses have been free and the workers have been paid for their working hours. In addition, the participants have received compensation of NOK 20,000 each.

- We want to motivate as many of our employees as possible to take professional certificates, says Hedland.

- It is a necessary measure to be able to deliver tenders in our industry. It is often required that at least 50% of the employees are skilled workers with a certificate. At the same time, it is our goal to develop our employees professionally. This is therefore a win-win situation for us, explains Geir Nordbø, who is project manager in the construction division of NRC Group Norway.

Norwegian language skills and better communication in the projects is an important benefit of taking a vocational certificate, says supervisor Robert Daniel Pytlas.

- Everyone who has taken a diploma in Norwegian has had to learn all the technical terms. Many of us speak English, but we want to speak Norwegian. It´s easier to work together when everyone speaks the same language, says Pytlas.

- In my opinion, everyone who is going to work in Norway should have a certificate in Norwegian, he says.