THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GENERATIONAL FACTOR – For training and research for innovation

By the editorial staff

One critical issue in the broad feld of diversity and inclusion (D&I) is the generational factor. This is the first time in history that up to 5 gen erations can be found working together in thesame company: Veterans, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z, each with different skills, competences, a characteristic language and a specifc value system. While this implies that there may be prejudices, misunderstandings and conflicts, in reality, the generational differences offer the opportunity to drive innovation by leveraging this vast amount of knowledge. Each generation has experienced a unique educational path and social context that influence and lead to a different perception of work, roles and relationships.

This is why at Baker Hughes, intergenerational exchange is also fostered through intensive relationships with schools and universities. Indeed, it is firmly established in the company culture that the continuous injection of lifeblood represented by young people is instrumental to sustaining innovation. And at an energy technology company like Baker Hughes, which provides solutions for energy and industrial customers in over 120 countries around the world, innovation is important to the development of technologies and services that can make energy safer, cleaner and more effcient for people and the planet (bakerhughes.com).

At Baker Hughes the evolution of our business is accompanied by the evolution of skills. Thus, for example, Nuovo Pignone, the legal entity operating in Italy, encourages the development of qualifed technical profles to meet the new challenges of the industry by engaging in orientation activities and projects in schools to promote knowledge of the industrial world, guide young people towards the most in-demand jobs and also to help bridge the gap between labour supply and demand.

Baker Hughes has always been very active in PCTO programmes (pathways for transversal skills and orientation) and since 2010 it has launched internship projects that allow students to spend many hours in the company by offering continuous individual coaching with company tutors. In 2016 it was awarded the title of Campioni dell’Alternanza (Alternanza Champions, which refers to work experience placements organised in partnerships between schools and businesses) by the then-Minister Stefania Giannini because with its initiatives and projects for orientation and direct experience in companies it helps bridge the gap between the theoretical training typical of many schools and the needs of the industrial world.

Another area in which the company invests a great deal is vocational training, represented in Italy by ITS (Istituti Tecnici Superiori), ITS Prime, the post-high school diploma specialisation institute for technological innovation in advanced mechanics and mechatronics, automation, industrial robotics and information technology. Baker Hughes has been involved since its foundation in 2011, through Nuovo Pignone, which has always participated in the governance of the foundation by providing support in the design of educational courses, giving lectures and testimonials and hosting students at its production sites every year for internships. ITS Prime is a foundation with over 60 members, 21 courses have been designed and 250 students have graduated from the programme. Baker Hughes has held the presidency since 2020. Baker Hughes is also a supporting partner of the Apulian ITS Meccatronico Cuccovillo and the ITS Meccanico Lombardo. With regard to other generations, the company wanted to plan specifc training initiatives in synergy with other parties.

At the beginning of 2020, the BiG (Business, Innovation, Growth) Academy was set up, a management academy for
managers and future managers of companies operating in the energy, mechanics, electronics, optics and information technology sectors
. The initiative is the brainchild of a number of international companies operating in Tuscany, such as Baker Hughes-Nuovo Pignone (which has taken on the presidency and management), Thales, the El.En Group, KME and Leonardo, and institutional partners such as the University of Florence, the Municipality and the City of Florence and the Region of Tuscany. The aim of the BiG Academy is to offer a high-level training experience, made by companies for companies, which strengthens the managerial capacity of SMEs, the ability to network and to respond to the economic and industrial needs of the territory.

The relationship between companies and universities also creates a virtuous circle in nurturing research, providing incentives for training and making companies and universities even more competitive. The sharing of expertise enables academic research to be applied in the industry. Baker Hughes collaborates with some of Italy’s leading universities and several national research centres, developing joint programmes with a generated economic value of over €16 million.

To name a few of the more recent collaborations, there was a framework agreement with the Politecnico di Milano in 2020, which formalised a successful relationship that began several years ago and involved the launch of research contracts on additive manufacturing, advanced aerodynamics, digital twins, knowledge management, prognostics and data science, with the creation of several executive PhD positions in research areas that are of interest to the company.

Also in 2020, Baker Hughes founded the AI LAB-Baker Hughes & University of Siena, a new joint research laboratory between the University’s Department of Information Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and the company to facilitate the exchange of information and technologies between industry and academia in the feld of Artifcial Intelligence research.
With the University of Calabria there is a framework agreement, since 2018, for the duration of 5 years, for the development of activities in the feld of the energy industry to collaborate on scientifc research and technical and educational activities.
And then there is the collaboration with the Politecnico di Bari to set up the Baker Hughes Academy to create specialist
skills for the energy industry. The partnership includes the participation of Adecco, IFOA, and the IIS ‘Marconi-Hack,’ which are responsible for setting up first-level apprenticeship contracts for the training and professional integration of new graduates in the area.

The Baker Hughes Pump Lab was also inaugurated in July 2021. The laboratory was created to facilitate the exchange of information between industry and academia for the joint development of advanced technologies to produce centrifugal pumps. The Pump Lab is dedicated to the design development of vertical water pumps, the energy effciency of centrifugal pumps, energy recovery machines, and design refnement for Reverse Osmosis and desalination
plants. Great attention is paid to technologies serving the energy transition, because all current generations must also be able to think about the future of generations to come.