Auto Firms Face Staff Deficit
Published: June 22, 2011 (Issue # 1662)
The region’s automobile plants need to find 3,000 new employees during the next three years, and this recent addition to St. Petersburg’s economic sector is close to exhausting its personnel reserves.
General Motors plans to hire 600 new workers to operate its third shift by the end of the year, said Romuald Rytwinski, the company’s CEO. There are currently 1,800 people working at the plant, but in five years its capacity will have quadrupled and another 1,500 workers will be needed.
For the Yo-Avto and Yarovit plants, construction of which was launched in the Marino industrial park at the beginning of this month, 1,400 workers will be needed by the end of 2012: 700 at each plant, Andrei Biryukov, CEO of Yo-Avto and president of Yarovit, said at the plants’ groundbreaking ceremony.
This year, Nissan recruited 600 workers for the third shift at its plant in Kamenka. About 2,100 employees currently work there, said a representative of the company. Hyundai is also hiring 600 people for its third shift, which is due to be launched in the autumn. The company is still looking for 200 people, said a representative of the plant. According to him, the company has not experienced any problems in finding candidates — there are a plenty of applicants — but right now, it is seeing a seasonal slump on the market.
When Toyota, the first automobile plant to open in St. Petersburg, announced it was recruiting for 450 vacancies at the end of 2006, it received about 20,000 resumes in the space of less than six months. “We have many options,” Ichiro Chiba, then-vice-president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Russia, said back then. The automakers that followed Toyota could not rely on such a generous market however, said an employee in the HR department of one of the plants. Today, there are between 10 and 20 applicants for each vacancy, and candidates have realized that auto manufacturers don’t simply hire anyone who applies, he said. The HR specialist estimated the average salary of auto industry workers at 20,000 to 25,000 rubles per month, which he described as the “market average.”
It can be difficult to find laborers in St. Petersburg, said Deputy Governor Mikhail Oseyevsky. A possible solution is to increase the level of technical equipment at the plants, which would require more engineers rather than manual laborers, he said. Automation is the way forward, agreed Yo-Avto’s Biryukov. The plants currently being constructed will be equipped with cutting-edge technology, partly in order to decrease the volume of manual labor necessary, he said.
In general, the market for well-paid permanent vacancies is not saturated. Mostly, only unskilled work is offered, which is not popular among Petersburgers, said Alexander Khodachek, director of the Higher School of Economics at St. Petersburg State University.