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Edimar de Melo Cardoso

Operations Director at Aperam Bioenergia



The challenges of labor supply and qualification today are much more present in everyone's realities than we think. Without a doubt, making strategic connections and promoting convergence in the forestry sector is fundamental to overcoming them. Perhaps this was the key reflection of the panel “Directions for Mechanization and the scarcity of labor”, and even of the various challenges discussed at the event.

When we started the discussion on our panel, we soon had our first contact with the term “labor blackout”, referring to the forestry blackout, but which, in fact, has the same scarcity bias, but related to the availability and quality of labor. Both challenge us, increasingly, and, in relation to labor, the perception is that there is always something that does not fill the gaps. Thus, companies are challenged to reinvent themselves, seek new limits of requirements and offers to sometimes fill operational positions, sometimes specialized positions.

When we begin to seek synergy in terms of labor versus mechanization, automation, Artificial Intelligence and others, the challenge leads to even greater complexity, because, at the same time as we invest heavily in a certain innovative business, we find a scenario of imbalance between supply of labor and use of technology most of the time.

At some point, we will lack specialized labor to use advanced technology, and, at the same time, if we are unable to accelerate the use of disruptive technology, there will be a lack of labor to execute the process manually and/or semi-manually. This imbalance negatively affects operational excellence and process efficiency, which leads to increased costs, reduced product quality and, consequently, a drop in customer satisfaction.

Thinking about and using resources in the best way, here we are talking about labor and technology, goes through live strategic planning, which needs to be periodically fed back into the business plan. The lack of systemic vision in this matter brings us increasingly greater challenges, as it forces us to work in a reactionary, disorganized and inefficient way, as we are unable to predict and execute in advance the trends that have already been transformed into production processes, specific services and/or new products.

Investments in training and developing people are fundamental to the success of the strategy and need to start long before they become employees of our companies.

In our discussions, the word “partnership” came up many times and there was no way it could be different. We need to think that a machine operator, an oven operator or a systems operator are not ready in a short space of time. Partnerships between companies and the learning and teaching sector, partnerships with institutions and universities are fundamental to the success of the business. I would like to share and summarize a success story of Aperam within its strategy of insourcing and expanding wood transport. In short, in a scenario of shortage of qualified and qualified drivers, the Company structured and organized partnerships with driving schools in its region of operation, encouraging and supporting candidates to obtain a license in category,

E. In this way, months or even years later, the same qualified people were able to be hired and trained by Aperam to work as professional drivers in the company's production processes. The diagnosis and need were raised years before the start of the insourcing project, demonstrating the importance of planning and efficiency in execution.

If the challenges in balancing labor and technology are enormous, the structural challenges of diversity and inclusion in companies are also challenging. It is a new topic that many companies have already sought to evolve and learn so that they can, at least, provide more balanced environments.

I think it is necessary to abandon the project concept and go further when facing these challenges that are on our tables as a humanitarian purpose, since the purpose of integration policies is to provide equal conditions for all people, regardless of their race, color, sex, religion, strengthening and generating mutual respect for everyone. It is known that diversity drives innovation; What seems like a challenge can turn into a great opportunity, it is necessary to change the scope of the vision. Recently, at Aperam we have made a lot of progress on this topic. It is already clear and measured how much the projects are being driven by this team that is becoming increasingly diverse and inclusive.

I think we are on the right path. It is gratifying to go to the field and see, for example, more and more women, until then distant from the routine of companies, today working as drivers, machine operators, bricklayers, supervisors, managers, increasingly represented and respected as people. This is a reason to be proud and, at the same time, a challenge to continue. I already feel enormous happiness in actively participating in this moment, contributing to better scenarios for future generations.

In a final stage of our discussion, the representation of small and medium-sized producers in our forestry chain came to light, which are fundamental, and their importance and relevance as protagonists of the transformations in our production chain. There is a consensus that we need, together with them, to influence the development of specific policies, combined with products that enable investments, technologies, access to information, innovations and research aimed at them. There is also a great challenge of integration and diversity here, and it is increasingly necessary to work on this inclusion in a fair way.

As homework, companies, representative institutions, such as the Brazilian Tree Industry, Minas Gerais Forestry Industry Association, trade associations, public initiatives and government, together, must seek convergence towards efficient plans that cover them efficiently and allow them to are increasingly sustainable and promising in their respective processes. In this way, the forestry agroindustry becomes stronger, more comprehensive and generates value for society in full transformation.

Ultimately, the convergence of the Brazilian forestry agroindustry sector is essential for managing common objectives and challenges, joining efforts and strengthening connections and partnerships with the various actors. It is essential to integrate and consider small and medium-sized businesses as strong sector links that, despite many adversities, still believe in the perpetuity and relevance of planted forests. In an integrated and organized way, it is up to the largest businesses to encourage the constant evolution of the sector's sustainable agenda, so that their best practices are applicable on their due scale to others.

Last, but not least, we must recognize and increasingly strengthen the pioneering spirit and transformation capacity of our sector. Today, without a doubt, we are references in sustainable practices for a large part of Brazilian agriculture. We have to be very proud of what we have done so far and remain firm in our purpose of improvement and evolution, we are strong contributors to the new global economy based on green assets.