Brazil – for many, the country conjures up images of football, carnival and samba, all set against stunning landscapes. The reality on the ground of the largest and most populous South American country isn’t all that rosy, though.
Home to roughly 220 million people, the country, like many of its neighbors, has grappled with high levels of youth unemployment for decades. Roughly 20% of young people in Brazil were unemployed in 2022, according to estimates by the International Labour Organization.
In this context, the government has turned to the private sector for help, making it mandatory since 2000 for companies of a certain size to hire apprentices. Given our large presence in the market – we have 5,300 employees spread across 150 different locations – we are compelled to offer an apprenticeship program by law.
But that’s not why we do it.
Juliana De Almeida Goncalves, Supervisor of Talent Management, Development and Learning at Atlas Schindler, traces our commitment to apprenticeships back to a supportive culture that runs deep inside the company. "It’s aligned with our values and commitment to people development," she says.
These apprenticeships do not systematically lead to permanent full-time jobs – but they give these young people a foot in the door. "We take on around 150 apprentices every year," explains Juliana. "While we can’t always offer every one of them a permanent position at the end of their apprenticeship, if there’s a suitable position afterward, they’re the first ones to know."
The apprenticeship program at Atlas Schindler lasts 15 months, allowing our apprentices to immerse themselves in a specific business area. This focused approach enables them to acquire technical skills and expertise tailored to that particular domain. One day per week, our apprentices go to class outside of Atlas Schindler, where they’ll learn and hone workplace soft skills, such as communication, problem solving, and teamwork.
"Our colleagues in all departments really enjoy having apprentices working with them," says Juliana. "Our apprentices are very popular here."
Our apprenticeship program in Brazil is just one of many similar vocational programs we run in different parts of the world. Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Mexico, China, New Zealand, Australia – all offer apprenticeship programs covering a variety of professions. While programs differ from one country to the next, all offer our youth an opportunity to enter the workforce and develop the skills they need to thrive in today’s and tomorrow’s workplace.
In countries like Brazil, where unemployment is high, these apprenticeship programs take on even greater meaning, helping to break the cycle of poverty by opening up opportunities to young Brazilians from all backgrounds. These programs also help us identify and train new talents amid an industry-wide shortage of skilled workers.
Current apprentice Caio de Castro Rodrigues, based in Recife – considered one of the biggest logistics hubs in Brazil due to its ports, airport, and northeastern location – was told by his family and friends that Atlas Schindler was a great company to work for – and that he would learn a lot if successful with his application.
It seems they were right. "The program made a total difference in terms of my way of thinking and acting in the work environment. Beyond that, learning about customer service, ways of behaving, and office tools are skills that I will take with me to other opportunities in my life," he says.
While many of the skills learnt during the program are trade-specific, some of the skills that our apprentices develop during their time with us are transferable – they’ll be able to apply these skills in other contexts.
Caio adds that his biggest challenge was leaving behind his shyness – and his experience as an apprentice has helped him become less self-conscious, he says. "Talking, calling and emailing several people from other states on a daily basis has become something normal and easy."
A few hundred kilometers away, in the Minas Gerais state, Apprentice Bruna Martins de Souza Abreu says her time with Schindler has helped her get much-needed clarity on what she wanted to do next.
"It’s helped me to work out what I want to do in the future," she says. "I’ve learned many things and met lots of new people. The journey has really helped my communication skills, which will be helpful in the future."
Eduarda Rodrigues Silva, also based in the Minas Gerais state, thoroughly researched Schindler before applying to be an apprentice. "It seemed like an excellent choice for my first job and a place where I could develop and learn," she says.
Her instincts proved correct, although she found corporate life challenging at first – but she quickly got the hang of it. "I’ve acquired skills today that I didn't have at the beginning. I’ve learned how to prioritize actions and how to navigate a corporate environment," she says.
Bianca Portela dos Santos, who is based in São Paulo, home to several of the tallest skyscrapers in Brazil, experienced the Schindler culture right from her first visit.
"The difference between Schindler and other big companies I met was how comfortable I felt as soon as I entered the interview room. It was as if the company wanted to welcome me with open arms, and my nerves disappeared," she says.
Her experience as an apprentice at Schindler has helped in her personal life, too. "There were times when we faced demanding and fast-paced requirements. I’ve learned how to stay calm in stressful situations."
She’s also enjoyed the networking opportunities that come with the job. "The people that I’ve met have encouraged me and helped me a lot in all areas of my life."