We provide educational resources for workers throughout our supply chain — from training on their rights under the law to free college classes in language skills, computers and other subjects. Many workers also have the opportunity to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
Worker and manager training.
We know that finding and correcting problems is not enough. We also require suppliers to implement Apple-designed training programs to educate workers about local laws, their rights as workers, occupational health and safety, and Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct. Supervisors and managers are also trained on effective management practices, including worker-management communication, antiharassment policies and worker protections. Since 2007, more than 2.3 million workers and managers in our supply chain have received this training, carrying this knowledge with them in their current role or any future job.
Apple continues to expand professional and personal development opportunities for workers through our Supplier Employee Education and Development (SEED) program. This Apple-designed program offers workers classes in technical and software skills, life skills, social and environmental responsibility, language skills, management skills and engineering. In addition, we partner with universities to give workers quality education and access to advanced degrees.
Since its beginnings in 2008, over 200,000 workers have participated in the SEED program. To reach even more workers, we’re expanding the program. We have now funded classrooms and degree programs in nine final assembly factories, and we have agreements in place for expansion with three second-tier suppliers. In addition, we have invested millions of dollars for computer equipment and tuition support since the program began.
Here’s what some Foxconn workers are saying about what they’re getting out of the degree programs.
Niu Depo, Human Resources
“Entering the factory straight after finishing high school, I always dreamed about advanced education. I actually passed the National College Entrance Examination, but both my older brother and younger sister needed the chance at that time, so I decided to start working to support the family. SEED provides me resources and knowledge of different subjects, and I keep taking courses that are relevant to my job posts. I have taken courses in project management and am now on my way to finishing a degree in human resources, which is what I want to do for a living.”
Zhang Taowei, Quality Control
“I didn’t get to finish high school. SEED gives people like me a second chance in life, a chance to study. The courses and schedule are really well designed. All you need to do is just walk into the classroom after work. I hope I can get my high school degree soon. It would be great if I can go to the next level and get the vocational degree as well.”
Tian Kailan, Supply Chain Management
“I joined Foxconn roughly two years ago when I was 17. When they first placed me as the procurement/logistics officer, I didn’t have a clue what the job meant. I spent most of the time trying to figure out the jargon people were using. Then a coworker told me about this course taught by SEED on logistics and I started taking it. In the long run, I hope I can go back to my hometown in Hunan and open my own logistics company.”
Making sure workers’ voices are heard.
Workers have a right to be in an environment where they can voice their concerns freely — and where managers and supervisors act on those concerns. That’s why our manager training offers guidance on fostering worker-manager communication. But we know that’s not enough. So in 2012, we began work on two separate initiatives aimed at finding the most effective ways for workers to communicate with their managers and ensure that their feedback is heard and addressed.
First, we developed the Sustainable Workforce Program in consultation with Verité, an internationally recognized NGO whose mission is to ensure that people around the world work under safe, fair and legal conditions. Second, we’re participating in the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative, a public-private working group, which allows us to collaborate with other companies in our industry on this topic.
With both initiatives, we’re exploring a range of solutions for encouraging more open communication, including hotlines and committees in which worker representatives address concerns with managers. To date, suppliers representing nearly 47,000 workers in our supply chain are participating in these programs. And when we identify the most effective solutions, we’ll roll them out to others in our supply chain.