Students and IT workers get job offers

U.S. STEEL Košice has offered training and jobs to Roma who want to work in its steelworks.
A group of Roma recently completed a special course and two of them got a contract for a permanent job. Others will work in the steelworks on a part-time contract, the ČTK newswire wrote.

U.S. Steel offers more jobs to Roma

The most successful Roma candidates were offered jobs at U.S. Steel.
photo: ČTK

U.S. STEEL Košice has offered training and jobs to Roma who want to work in its steelworks.

A group of Roma recently completed a special course and two of them got a contract for a permanent job. Others will work in the steelworks on a part-time contract, the ČTK newswire wrote.

"Our company offers permanent jobs to Roma who have done well in their work so far, and those who have the best results in the course, too," said U.S. Steel Košice president David Lohr.

In the last four years, U.S. Steel has employed 150 Roma in this way.

The company started the employment project with the community of Veľká Ida in 2002. It also employs Roma from the Košice housing estates of Luník IX and Šaca, where most residents are Roma.

Unemployment among Roma is high in Slovakia. Companies say they are not trying to avoid hiring them, but the problem is their poor education and insufficient qualification.

As part of the recent U.S. Steel programme, Roma trainees completed a metallurgic facilities machine operator course, which was prepared together with the Secondary Metallurgic Training Institution. They were trained in several practical subjects, and gained skills in metal cutting and welding.

One of the new hires was 23-year-old Jozef Horváth.

"I was very surprised to hear that I would get a permanent job. I could not believe it at first," he told the SITA newswire. "I only believe it now, after I signed the contract."

Horváth said he was a trained house painter and decorator, but he didn't have his A level (secondary school exam) qualification. First he worked with his father, but then he could not find work in his field. Two years ago, he agreed to work as a temporary worker with U.S. Steel, and then to take the training course.

"Now I would like to enhance my education at the training institution and pass the A level, if possible, so that I can be fully qualified," he said.

He got a worker's job with the Vulkmont steelworks, an affiliated company. Last year, the average wage of a worker there was Sk26,000 (€760), company CEO Patrik Ivanišin told journalists.

U.S. Steel said it intends to organise similar courses in the future.

Factories make use of student workers

The Slovak glass-making industry is dying out, and its former workers are heading abroad.
photo: ČTK

STUDENTS didn't just find summer jobs at supermarkets this year - foreign investors from the car and electronics industries were also hiring student workers.

Factories pay about Sk80 an hour (€2.35) for production jobs that don't require special skills. For college students, car producers offer jobs in administration. High school students can find work in production, the Pravda daily wrote.

"Foreign manufacturers' interest in temporary workers has been higher than in recent years, as the number of investors who have launched production in Slovakia has risen," said Darina Mokráňová from the Index Nosluš personnel agency. "Companies usually offer auxiliary, unskilled jobs for students in the summer - for example, work on the assembly line, handling tiny parts, or finishing carton parts."

According to Silvia Cvengrošová from the Trenkwalder personnel agency, investors struggle with a lack of labour year-round, but students at least improve their situation in the summer.

Car factories and their delivery companies have shown growing interest in temporary workers. In the electronics field, the Samsung assembly plant in Galanta and the Sony factory in Trnava offer temporary jobs. In the food processing industry, canneries from Moravia want students for temporary jobs.

"Companies also want students to clean the premises during the summer breaks in production," said Marián Sliacky from the Košice Student Service agency. "Last year, students worked at U.S. Steel Košice in this way - they cleaned the blast furnaces.

"This year, they can test the seats at the Molex company in Kechnec, where they can earn Sk60 for one hour."

But the personnel agencies say factories are mainly searching for people for long-term, though temporary, work.

"There are more offers for longer contracts, for one or two months in the summer," Mokráňová said. "They mostly involve plants where the training is more complex. With some temporary jobs, (workers) can gain a bonus or a transportation benefit."

The Korean carmaker Kia requires temporary workers with the English language and computer skills.

"We employ students not only in the summer, but during the whole year through temporary work contracts," said Kia spokesman Dušan Dvořák. "They mostly work in administration."

Kia, near Žilina, and PSA Peugeot Citroen, another new car plant, have not yet allowed temporary workers in production jobs.

"We see no employment opportunities for them due to the demanding training," said Peter Švec, the spokesman of PSA Peugeot Citroen in Trnava.

So far, only the Volkswagen car producer in Bratislava employs temporary workers in production.

"The number of temporary workers is higher during the summer holidays compared with other seasons," said Vladimír Machalík from Volkswagen. "In the summer, mostly employees' children work here. We employ students as temporary workers to help in production on the assembly line, or in the service departments. To a lesser extent, they also work in administration."

Students who want to work in production do not need special skills, he said.

"He or she has to be at least a high school student," Machalík said.

"Almost all jobs are suitable for girls, as well, and they do not require special physical fitness."

Samsung tries to cover temporary jobs mainly with women.

"This is because of the positive experience we have had with the quality of work and women's reliability - for example, when producing small MP3 players," Samsung's Katarína Holecová said.

The Sony affiliate in Trnava requires temporary employees to work in standing position during their whole shift.

IT employees still in high demand

EVEN though information technology experts have seen their wages soar by an average of 40 percent over the past two years, there still aren't enough of them on the job market.

In Slovakia, there has been a shortage of programmers, software engineers and data security experts for several years. Most of the IT experts work abroad, where they can earn several times more than here, the Pravda daily wrote.

"The hardest thing is finding specialists with at least two years' experience," said the spokesman of the Siemens Group, Tomáš Kráľ. "Such people keep leaving on a large scale to work abroad.

"It is slightly easier to find good experts in regions like Košice or Žilina."

In-demand IT workers can collect a sizeable salary. At IBM in Bratislava, programmers who have mastered the SQL programming language are given a monthly wage of Sk25,000 (€730).

According to František Janíček, vice-chancellor of the Slovak Technical University (STU) in Bratislava, IT experts who have experience can earn Sk70,000 or even Sk80,000.

"Entry-level IT employees have a wage from Sk30,000 upwards, and those with experience from Sk50,000 upwards," said the head of the Trenkwalder personnel agency, Luboš Sirota.

"Currently, we would need to fill more than 100 such positions for our clients. But IT experts cannot be imported from abroad, as there are practically no resources in the European Union.

"Instead, we see that such people are recruited from here even by job recruiters from Romania."

In the past, out of 200 graduates from the STU's Electric and Information Engineering School, one half left for abroad, Janíček said.

Sirota said the only solution to the IT outflow would be to increase the price of labour again, and to motivate Slovaks who left for abroad to come back.

As a start, Siemens is trying to lure IT experts back to the regions from Bratislava. Last year they launched a campaign called, "Easteners and Kysuce residents, let's go back home".

"Maybe we will try recruiting in exotic countries like India," Sirota said. "However, the colleges should also react to the requirements of the market."

Big computer companies try to gain graduates by offering them short-term job positions, and co-operation and help with thesis dissertations.

Up to 2,000 IT experts graduate from the STU in Bratislava each year.

"Three or four times more could find a job on the Slovak market," Janíček said. "The hunger for information experts has been stepping up since 2000, as all companies and society as a whole have been transforming to information systems."

Companies take pains to lure new employees not only with wages, but also with various benefits. For example, IBM offers new recruits accommodation in Bratislava during their trial period, additional holidays, fully-paid sick leave, and a laptop for private use.

The Manpower personnel agency, which looks for IBM employees, offers a reward of Sk1,000 for every recommended candidate who is successfully placed in IBM.

"Maybe because of the lack of workers, but also because new candidates are offered jobs by people who have been working for IBM, this way is more effective and faster," Manpower's Daniela Martinovičová told the media.

Women from glass-making towns find work abroad

YOUNG and middle-aged women from the glass-making towns and villages of the Novohradský region in southeastern Slovakia are flocking to Austria and Germany in growing numbers to work as caregivers.

More and more women from Zlatno, Kokava nad Rimavicou, Málinec, Utekáč and the district centre of Poltár are finding work in the neighbouring countries to the west, the TASR newswire wrote. According to estimates, more than 100 women from a single village might be working in Western Europe at a time.

In the last decade, hundreds of glassmakers lost heir jobs in these regional glass-making centres. And so did their wives, who worked in the local plants as glass cutters and doing other jobs.

"We do not have statistics in this area, but it is certain that each year, more and more women go to work abroad as caregivers," said Elena Klajbanová from the Poltár Employment Office. "They usually work through agencies abroad, and they just come to this office to get their names removed from the unemployment registry."

According to the mayor of Zlatno, Margaréta Murínová, about 10 percent of the 526 residents work abroad. Skilled glassmakers usually work in the Czech Republic and Austria, often taking their wives with them to work as caregivers for adults or children in Austrian families.

"Just a few days ago, two mothers went to work in Austria after their maternity leave," the mayor said.

She counted eight women from the village who take care of older or ill people in Austria.

There is a similar situation in Utekáč, where about one-tenth of the 1,115 local residents work abroad. They leave mainly for Austria or Germany, but also the UK. Often whole families leave for abroad.

Two or three dozen women from the community of Kokava work as caregivers in Austria. Municipal councillor and former mayor Ondrej Bálint estimates that from a total of 3,000 residents, more than 200 work abroad.

After the glassworks in nearby Málinec went bankrupt five years ago, many skilled local glassmakers crossed the border to find work, and their wives usually left with them.

"I know at least 15 women who work as caregivers, housekeepers or assistants abroad," Bálint said.

In the main glassmaking stronghold, the Slovglass Poltár company, the number of employees has been decreasing each year. Mayor Pavol Rončák said that many have left, mainly going to the Czech Republic and Hungary, and many have also changed to other trades.

Self-employed license requirements get easier

IT NOW takes less money, time and effort to get a self-employment license, since the amendment to the Law on Self-employment came into effect on October 1.

Until now, an applicant had to pay a Sk1,000 fee for a stamp to get the license, regardless of how many fields of trade were stated there, the Sme daily wrote. Now each field of trade will be paid for separately, and each one will be listed on a separate sheet of paper. But one license only costs a fee of Sk100, so anyone who asks for less than 10 fields will pay less than before.

Viola Kromerová from the Slovak Tradesmen Union said the rules allowing applicants to list several enterprise fields in one license were good in the past.

"The market was not so clear, and potential entrepreneurs did not know exactly what they would make their living with," she said.

The Slovak Interior Ministry proposed this change, because "there are tradespeople who have as many as 50 to 60 different fields stated on their licenses (we have a self-employed person with as many as 294 fields of trade), which are not related in any way," its website reads.

Kromerová admits that this was unique to Slovakia and it could have provoked mistrust.

"What kind of tradesman does not specialise in anything?" she asked.

She considers the change to be a step for the better.

"The license of self-employment should be a sign of expertise," she said.

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