Slovakia should keep its carmakers

The development of the automotive industry has no alternative in Slovakia.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme)

Cars constitute one-third of Slovakia’s exports and nearly half of the country’s industrial production. The development of the automotive industry, however, has no alternative in Slovakia, said Jaroslav Holeček, vice-president of the Slovak Automotive Industry Association (ZAP) in mid-February.

The country has not created any other industrial sector that would largely support the economy during its 25 years of existence. The subcontractors who have arrived during this period have created a competition advantage when attracting more carmakers. Slovakia should now think about creating conditions to allow those companies to remain here forever, Holeček added, as reported by the TASR newswire.

The carmakers in Slovakia are now using their full capacities and for the second year in a row produced more than 1 million vehicles. After Jaguar Land Rover starts its production in 2018, the number will be even higher.

“I expect the total number of produced cars every year will rise to 1.3 million,” Holeček said, as quoted by TASR.

Moreover, there is still room for another carmaker that should be situated in the eastern part of the country, Holeček added. According to him, it would be good if another carmaker would produce trucks.

“This would move Slovakia a bit further,” Holeček said, as quoted by TASR, adding that though the dependence of the economy on the auto industry is big, the country need not fear an industry demise similar to that of Belgium or Detroit.

Slovakia will need some 14,000 new workers over the next three years to satisfy the demands of employers in the automotive sector. The education system in Slovakia, however, can cover only one-third of this number. As a result, it will have to find the rest in other sources, which also includes bringing in workers from abroad, Holeček said.

Moreover, the state should start with the requalification of people.

“Up to 70,000 people may be requalified as they made a mistake when choosing their future occupation,” Holeček said, as quoted by TASR, adding that these are mostly the jobless school graduates.

The carmakers rely on dual education which they see as the only chance to secure an educated and qualified labour force for the future, he said.

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