Labor requirements in the operational phase for the Fjardaál aluminum smelter
Labor requirements at an aluminum smelter depend on production capacity. At the Fjardaál smelter production capacity was 360 kT/year in 2011 and the total workforce of approx. 800 was split between around 480 directly employed by Alcoa Fjardaál, and around a further 320 employed by sub-suppliers of plant-related services. Improved energy efficiency has led to increased production and employment at Fjardaál.
The sub-suppliers provide a range of services and tasks in skilled trades for the aluminum smelter. With regard to service tasks, this involves security, transport, canteen operation, cleaning, etc. Trade tasks include maintenance of buildings, work on electrical installations and servicing of the high-voltage station, painting, carpentry and plumbing, vehicle maintenance, material sales and manpower in the crane workshop. In addition, there has been some new construction since the plant went into operation.
The majority of the personnel at Alcoa Fjardaál are employed in production (approx. 94%), whilst the remaining 6% are responsible for administration, financial management, purchasing, HR and information.
Data from 2009 show 57% of the personnel were unskilled labor, whilst 24% were skilled labor in a trade (e.g. electrician or mechanic). 8% had a medium-term program of education and 11% had higher education (particularly engineers). A diagram illustrating the breakdown of educational backgrounds is shown below.
The unskilled staff receives training in the various functions involved in aluminum production and can thereby upgrade their qualifications. Training takes place by means of internal courses at Alcoa and varies in length and complexity depending on the functions that the employee shall perform.
Hiring and training of personnel commenced well before the smelter was ready to be put into service in order to ensure that production could be ramped up quickly and smoothly. This was achieved by sending Icelandic staff to Alcoa’s other aluminum smelters to receive training. Such preparatory efforts play a significant part in reducing start-up problems and increasing safety in the workplace.
Icelandic was to be used as the working language at the smelter. During the start-up phase, however, there was a number of foreign staff, among whose responsibilities was to train the majority of employees who had no prior experience in the industry. Today, only a very small percentage of employees of Alcoa Fjardaál are foreign nationals.
In 2011 some 24% of the personnel – both in production and administration – were women.