Best Traineeship Winners: Learning and Development 2023 – Alliander

Jul 9, 2024

In 2023, when Learning and Development (L&D) emerged as one of the most critical standards for evaluating traineeship programs, Alliander distinguished itself by winning the Best Traineeship Learning and Development Standard.

To understand the strategies behind this remarkable achievement, we sat down with Aukje Menger, one of the two Young Talent Managers at Alliander. During our interview, she shared invaluable insights into their award-winning approach, emphasizing the importance of a holistic learning experience and the continuous development of young professionals within their traineeship program.

What does it feel like to have your traineeship recognised as having the best Learning and Development program in 2023?

Being recognized for having the best Learning and Development program in 2023 is a significant achievement for us at Alliander. We place a strong emphasis on fostering both personal and professional growth among our trainees as a fundamental aspect of our program. Starting with a growth mindset lays a solid foundation for their future careers and contributes to a culture of continuous learning.

learning and development best traineeship alliander

We’ve observed that providing opportunities for growth and learning enhances the happiness and commitment of our trainees. This recognition validates our commitment to maintaining a supportive learning environment.

Entering the competition for the first time without a specific goal allowed us to approach it with an open mind, eager to learn from others and gain insights into best practices. It has been a valuable experience that underscores our dedication to excellence in traineeship development.

Overall, we’re proud of this accomplishment. It reflects the dedication and enthusiasm of our team and trainees. We look forward to continuing to improve and provide exceptional learning experiences at Alliander.

One of the parts that impressed our judges was the great variety of roles the trainees take on and the opportunity to work in different areas.. Can you tell us a little more about that?

In our traineeship, we prioritize a diverse and strategic approach to our trainees’ development rather than following a predefined track from technical roles to project management. Our trainees begin with an assignment that connects them to key strategic topics across any of our 18 business units. This initial experience provides them with a comprehensive understanding of the organizational landscape, its strengths, and challenges.

learning and development best traineeship alliander

Following this first assignment, our trainees have the autonomy to choose their assignments. We encourage them to explore different business units and roles, challenging them to broaden their perspectives and skills. This approach not only exposes them to various facets of Alliander but also helps them discover and develop different aspects of themselves.

While we emphasize a solid understanding of our core business as a grid operator and a leader in the energy transition, our trainees’ journey is about exploration and personal growth rather than a linear progression through technical and project management roles. They receive thorough training in electricity and gas distribution as part of their overall development program, ensuring they have a strong foundation in our core operations.

This approach has proven beneficial in building a network of well-rounded trainees throughout our organization. They engage deeply with the technical aspects of our operations while also gaining valuable insights into strategy, leadership, and innovation. Ultimately, our trainees are empowered to choose roles that align with their skills and interests, contributing to a dynamic and diverse workforce at Alliander.

Alliander places an emphasis on networking and collaboration for trainees – how does this benefit all areas of the traineeship program and other team members?

Networking and collaboration are core to our traineeships, benefiting both trainees and the organization significantly. Placed across diverse departments, trainees support each other, share knowledge, and build extensive networks. This approach enhances their professional development, equipping them with broad skills and perspectives that help team dynamics. By engaging in various business units, trainees gain specialized insights and connections that prepare them for impactful roles within Alliander and beyond. This collaborative environment fosters continuous learning and innovation, and is valued by both trainees and managers alike for its lasting benefits.

What have you learned from your participation in the Best Traineeship Competition that has helped you shape your traineeship for the future?

Participating in the Best Traineeship competition taught us valuable lessons. We gained a clearer view of what our trainees appreciate most: a program that’s tailored to their needs, emphasizes personal growth, and provides ample networking opportunities. These insights not only validated our approach but also helped us better articulate the program’s strengths to colleagues and potential future trainees.

learning and development best traineeship alliander

Engaging with other traineeships and studying the benchmark report provided further insights. For instance, while we already had strong mentorship in place, hearing that it’s highly valued by our trainees prompted us to explore ways to enhance it even more effectively.

A standout moment was when our trainees developed their pitches, passionately highlighting the three most important aspects of our traineeship. Hearing their enthusiasm reinforced our commitment to continuously improve and innovate, ensuring our trainees have a rewarding experience that prepares them for their careers ahead.

How are you taking away this year’s feedback and benchmark report and using the insights to build the traineeship program? What are the benefits of receiving the benchmark report?

The benchmark report gives us detailed insights into how our traineeship program is perceived by the trainees and how it stacks up against our competitors. This information is incredibly valuable for several reasons.

Firstly, the report pinpoints which aspects of the traineeship are most appreciated by our trainees. For example, it highlights that mentorship is a key factor for them. Knowing this, we can focus on enhancing this part of our program.

Even if mentorship is already established, the report suggests ways to make it even more effective, like implementing stronger follow-up mechanisms to better understand how our trainees are experiencing their mentorship.

Additionally, the report helps us sift through all the information to identify a few key areas worth investing in. Another big benefit of the benchmark report is that it allows us see emerging trends. By receiving these reports, we can measure our progress and make strategic long-term improvements.

Lastly, the report includes research on leadership skills, offering us fresh ideas for development. We can discuss these findings with our trainee development team to see how we might integrate them into our program. The benchmark report helps us understand our trainees’ needs and preferences more clearly, so we can improve specific elements of our program, make informed investment decisions, and incorporate new research insights into our development efforts.

What advice can you give future entries to the competition about what is crucial to incorporate into Learning and Development in their traineeship?

We’d love to offer some advice to future entries in the competition. Think of this competition as a fantastic learning opportunity. It gives you a clear view of your program’s strengths and is a great chance to learn not only about how other companies develop their young talent but also to delve deeply into your own program with your trainees.

When it comes to what to include in the learning and development portfolio of a traineeship, we strongly believe in viewing the entire program as a learning experience. This means everything—from selecting assignments to reflecting on your personal and professional growth—is a potential learning moment. Emphasizing personal and professional reflection helps trainees start their professional lives with a solid foundation and ensures our organization develops thoughtful and reflective leaders and experts.

learning and development best traineeship alliander

Another crucial piece of advice is to prepare and learn together with your trainees. Listen to their voices, see things from their perspective, and use their feedback to refine your program. Different organizations will find various aspects of traineeships important, so it’s vital to learn to reflect on the feedback you receive and incorporate it flexibly into your traineeship program.

Encourage personal leadership development beyond just the formal training program. This includes thinking about future assignments, using feedback from reviews, and diving deep into self-reflection. Remember, learning isn’t confined to the training room—it’s embedded in everyday work experiences.

By adopting this holistic approach to learning and development, you can create a traineeship program that not only meets the needs of your trainees but also fosters their growth into capable, reflective professionals.

This year Alliander was recognized for their outstanding learning and development practices. It’s important to see the entire traineeship program as a journey of learning, stressing the importance of integrating reflection and personal leadership development into daily work, not just during formal training.

The insights highlight the value of preparing and learning alongside trainees, listening to their feedback, and staying flexible in refining the program. This approach not only enhances organizational insights but also nurtures capable, self-aware professionals, ensuring that programs are effective and resilient. Thanks again, Aukje Menger, for sharing your valuable insights and time with us. You can follow Alliander on LinkedIn here.


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