23. Oktober 2018, 12:32 Uhr | Karin Zühlke
The vacancies in the EMS sector exist not only on the engineering level, but through all areas, and semi-skilled workers are also in short supply depending on the region. In many conurbations there is full employment and the competition with big OEM names is even tougher. Structurally weak rural regions are not attractive for employees, as Jörg Neukirch, Managing Director of Neways-Vertriebs GmbH, also knows. “We have a real problem at our location in Riesa, where the search for personnel ties up a lot of capacity”. Riesa is about 60 km away from Dresden.
Some of the EMS companies with whom Markt&Technik talked believe however, that the lack of skilled craftsmen in Germany is not specific to EMS or the broader electronics industry, but is a politically homemade problem. When the decision to increase student ratios was made, it was conveniently forgotten that one actually has something very valuable in local training systems. The image of training occupations in general has suffered as a result. In Germany, a lot of parents in large cities in particular are encouraging their children to persue higher school careers with subsequent further education. Dr. Peter Schmitt, Business Director of CCS, explains that this is not the case in Switzerland: “In Switzerland Crafts still enjoy a good reputation.”
Some EMS companies therefore rely on temporary workers for operator activities and in logistics in order to cushion peaks. “However, a change in the law has reduced our flexibility here,”comments Roland Hollstein, Managing Director of Grundig Business Systems. “The contact duration for temporary workers has been reduced from 18 to 12 months”. For Grundig Business Systems, leasing of temporary workers is a tried and tested concept in which the temporary worker can ultimately be taken on permanently if the order situation and qualifications match. However, the latter is not always so simple, confirms Felix Timmerman, Executive Vice President of Asteelflash: “We no longer have semi-skilled workers for very simple tasks. That of course is an additional barrier, because we can‘t hire just anyone, we need people who have the right level of quality”.
So what else can the EMS industry do to meet the diverse challenges of recruiting? The industry must polish up its image and better position itself in the public eye through PR to match the reputation it undoubtedly enjoys as a service provider in the industry. The companies surveyed by Markt&Technik largely agree on this.
Personnel marketing for Kids
A lot of companies are already trying to draw attention to themselves through unconventional personnel marketing campaigns and a pepped-up wording. “When recruiting employees, we don‘t focus on our EMS status but rather on our innovative electronic processes,” says Johann Weber, CEO of Zollner Elektronik. In addition, Zollner relies above all on word-of-mouth by its employees: “The best advertising medium is the apprentice himself, who passes on his experience to young acquaintances peer to peer”.
EMS companies want to whet the appetites of young people for electronics at an early age through holiday jobs and school activities. “The kids of today are the skilled workers of tomorrow and for them we have to make electronics comprehensible,” says Christian Groß, Executive Vice President Sales at Turck duotec. The company is therefore already involved in cooperation with schools and recently won the School Business Prize in the region - ahead of the well-known company Hilti. Such campaigns are very valuable for personnel marketing, emphasizes Groß.
With school sponsoring, a long night of research and a summer school during the long holidays, Ginzinger electronic from Upper Austria is increasing its profile among potential youngsters and at the same time puts the suitability of candidates to the test: “In the summer school, for example, we developed a role-play game in which the students have to sell technical solutions,” explains Andreas Pfeiffer, Head of Customer Consulting and Marketing at Ginzinger electronic. Perhaps this commitment will also be extended to kindergartens in the future? For Pfeiffer this is quite conceivable.
In terms of recruiting, Austria benefits from its technical schools which, unlike in Germany, can be completed with a Matura (high school diploma). “For us in Klagenfurt, these schools are a source for junior staff and where we sponsor project work and theses. This is a good starting point for us to bring people into trainee programs,” reports Bernd Juppe, Director Sales & Marketing at cms electronics.
And to get young people excited about BMK, Stephan Baur even assumes the role of a lecturer himself for the “Production Engineering” course at the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences.
The electronics industry has also discovered Social Media for the recruitment of young employees: Facebook and Youtube are the portals of choice, according to the interviewees. But it’s not only youngsters who are in demand. Asteelflash and other EMS providers are also promoting cooperation with older employees. According to the EMS companies, smart tools and the benefits of Work 4.0 and digitization can also help to alleviate staff shortages, for example through on-going training for existing employees.
“Interested employees, who have the necessary talent to do so, are further qualified by us. For example, an employee who might have previously assembled THT components could now be responsible for an entire production line,” says Timmermann. The EMS industry offers opportunities not only for engineers, but also for semi-skilled workers.