CAR PRODUCERS' constant search for cheaper labour markets is a reality that will inevitably affect Slovakia, said Sylvain Coursimault, the general director of Renault Slovakia, who recently showed his opinion about the future of the Slovak car industry to The Slovak Spectator.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Some economists warn Slovakia's reliance on the automotive sector might harm it in a couple years when the companies move to cheaper markets further east. Do you feel the Slovak economy is too dependent on the automotive industry? Will production continue moving eastward?
Sylvain Coursimault (SC): The past has shown the automotive industry is cyclical, it has its ups and downs. The majority of investments in Slovakia have so far been concentrated in the west, and have caused wages to increase significantly, so there is some risk. Nonetheless, it is not likely that a producer who has invested in a plant would rush to close it.
Take our Dacia brand, which belongs to the Renault Group, as an example. Its roots are in Romania. We are also using our capacities in Russia, Iran, India and northern Africa, where the labour costs are, of course, very acceptable. I think it is a global phenomenon common in various branches, whether it is an industry or services, such as call centres or back offices. It will undoubtedly continue.
TSS: Do large carmakers prefer to do business with domestic or well-established foreign suppliers?
SC: I believe in an effective connection between local and trusted foreign suppliers. Foreign suppliers provide knowledge of complex processes. On the other hand, the creativity of the local suppliers can improve them. At the end of the day, quality and innovation go hand in hand.
TSS: Has the shortage of skilled labour in the Slovak automotive sector also had an impact on your company?
SC: As Renault only has a sales centre in Slovakia, its basic human resources needs are in the services field, but the middle-management sector feels the shortage the most. Naturally, it is connected with the immaturity of the current [political and economic] system. That is why we have incorporated various management training seminars.
By Marta Ďurianová
17. Jul 2006 at 0:00