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Educating to grow: support for education and training at Corticeira Amorim

Portugal 25/9/2020

Education’s transformational power is able to sow the seeds of the future that we wish for everyone. In the month of September, which was dedicated to education, we covered the main formats, initiatives and programmes that are being developed by Corticeira Amorim in this key field. This involves a strong commitment to social responsibility which makes it possible to add value, value people and generate a positive impact on the community.

One of companies’ key roles is to return the wealth they generate back to society. Companies must help expand and share knowledge, support personal development and strengthen and encourage a commitment to education and merit. In this context, Corticeira Amorim has consistently developed a wide array of educational and training projects aimed at its employees and their families, and also at the wider community. The company’s goal is to create a positive impact, by developing multiple initiatives in the educational field - from curricular internships to signing protocols with academic institutions, from environmental education to sponsorship.
Corticeira Amorim’s personnel director, Alexandra Godinho, considers that this commitment to education is one of the things that sets leading companies apart and also constitutes a factor of attractiveness. “I think that people increasingly value companies which invest in them, and which understand their concerns and needs. On the other hand, this commitment also includes offering education-related benefits, for example, subsidies and support for buying books. This is also an important message for our employees: knowledge, development and intellectual growth are increasingly important in our professional lives. We know that a rising number of people are looking for companies that invest in them and that value education and training. People must be co-responsible in this process.”

Rewarding the future

The future undoubtedly depends on education and training. Corticeira Amorim implements various training initiatives and programmes for recognition, validation and certification of skills, which have covered thousands of employees over the years. The future also goes hand in hand with a clear commitment to education, and this provides an incentive and inspiration for everyone. In this context, the group's corporate benefits policy includes, for many employees, educational support for their children, through school allowances or school merit scholarships. The schools allowance is awarded to all employees' children after the 5th year of schooling, and begins at € 25 per child, in the 1st cycle (primary school), and at € 110 per child, from the 2nd cycle (middle school) onwards.

The second modality of educational support is achieved through scholarships. Each year, Corticeira Amorim’s various companies award School Merit Scholarships to the children of employees whose base salary is lower than € 1,000, and who complete year 9 and year 12 at school. In each of the five business units, three school merit awards, each worth €250, are awarded to the three best students in year 9, and three school merit awards, each worth €500, to the three best students in year 12.
“The Amorim Group's benefits policy in relation to education has been reinforced over recent years, Merit Scholarships, based on academic excellence, have been reinforced, and we now support the cost of undergraduate tuition fees for more than 30 children of our employees,” explains Alexandra Godinho. “We believe that our transformational role in society is also achieved through long-term and medium-term contributions. These scholarships are aimed at the children of our employees in a lower salary segment. The scholarships recognise and distinguish the academic excellence of students (with an average grade above 16 at secondary school) who, may have lower monetary resources, but will thereby be able to continue their higher education studies and will probably pursue remarkable career paths.” These scholarships cover tuition fees during the first year at university, and, if the student continues his or her studies, it will cover tuition fees until the end of the degree. “This is one of the benefits that gives us the greatest pleasure attributing. The group strongly admires the example of resilience and dedication shown by these young people and their families and we are proud to support the effort they make!”

In the academic world

Another very important aspect of supporting education and training is the collaboration protocols signed with educational institutions. Corticeira Amorim, as a leader of the cork industry, is aware of its position in a sector that is extremely important for Portugal, and proudly and responsibly assumes its role as a reference company. Bringing the academic world and the business world closer is a challenge that has been embraced by the group with tremendous motivation. In this regard, Corticeira Amorim has signed several protocols with Universities and Higher Education Institutions over recent years that provide curricular internships to students who complete their undergraduate or master's degree courses.

As Alexandra Godinho explains, “curricular internships in a business context offer the best of both worlds, as we like to say. We work with educational institutions, to enable students to get their first contact with the world of work, giving them the possibility to make a supported transition to professional life. In other words, we challenge the academic world also to be influenced by the world of work.” These curricular internships are a very important source of recruitment for the group’s various companies. “Many of our staff members joined the group through an internship and have stayed with us. We collaborate extensively with educational institutions that are located close to our business units: Universities, Institutes, Training Centres (Secondary Vocational Education), Secondary Schools and Professional Schools. This allows us to make contact and receive different groups of students, with different backgrounds, which is equally important for our activities,” concludes Alexandra Godinho.

Corticeira Amorim regularly keeps its doors open to receive study visits from different institutions (e.g. FEUP, FEP, Católica, PBS) and at the same time it collaborates with research and student work. As a member of the Companies Club of Católica Porto Business School, Corticeira Amorim takes its experience and expertise to the academic world, through different collaborations. On an individual basis, several group managers also play an active role in this critical field, and are members of the advisory bodies of Higher Education Institutions.

From the school to environmental education

At Corticeira Amorim, support for education is not limited to higher education institutions. The company operates where it is most needed. Since 2005, the company has been involved in Porto City Council’s educational project - Porto de Futuro - as a partner of the Leonardo Coimbra Schools Grouping. Within the framework of this protocol, Corticeira Amorim is represented on the Schools Grouping’s General Council and collaborates by donating computer equipment, participating in the Junior Achievement Volunteer programme (Education for Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy), in which Corticeira Amorim’s employees travels to schools to share their experience with students, and also takes part in various school initiatives and projects.
Corticeira Amorim’s Environmental Education programme is repeated every year. The project has been created to support schools in the field of environmental education and raise the general community’s awareness about the need to protect and enhance the Portuguese forest, in particular the cork oak forest. In addition to environmental awareness, the programme also promotes the recycling of cork stoppers (by distributing recycling points – “rolhinhas” - for the collection of used cork stoppers) and conservation of the environment.
Corticeira Amorim always aims to add value and strengthen its flagship projects. Over the years, it has supported several institutions and associations which have a significant impact on communities, and actively participates in their development, enhancing their growth by donating materials, encouraging volunteering or providing financial support. The Bagos D'Ouro Association, founded by Luísa Amorim, which is dedicated to supporting underprivileged children and young people from the Douro region, by monitoring their school careers and creating opportunities for the development of successful life projects, is one example of this local work of enormous merit that Corticeira Amorim is proud to support as an official sponsor.

Making a difference through education is the common purpose and basis of all these projects, always with the underlying goal of building a better world.