German automobile industry seeking engineers

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An auto engineer retraining for electric car work at a facility in Detroit, US. Ford is teaming up with universities in Illinois and nearby states to plug the shortage of skilled engineers and technicians. German automakers are facing similar shortages. Photo - Ford

German automobile industry is facing a lack of engineers?despite staggering sales. Both Porsche and BMW are looking to expand operations in Germany but fear a shortfall of graduate engineers that might impact their production capacity.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, the current batch of auto engineers in Germany is ageing and both Porsche and BMW foresee hiring of fresh recruits. There is yawning gap between enrolment rates in engineering studies and technician-related employee demand, which is said to be at 77,000, a new all-time high.

This gap is creating a big problem for companies such as BMW, Porsche/Volkswagen Group, and Daimler Mercedes, which have already invested big dollars into future development and research of motor vehicles. The shortage could affect production of new technologies and hinder overall sales for the German car manufacturers. Outsourcing to international markets such as Asia is one option the companies may be forced to turn to.

BMW plans to hire around 800 workers for its Leipzig plant where the i3 and i8 will be manufactured. BMW believes sales will hit 2 million units by 2020. Porsche are more ambitious as they seek to hire around 3,000 engineers over the next three years for their production facilities.

Results from a recent survey of 500 large companies, undertaken by the DIHK Chamber of Industry and Commerce, showed a shortage of engineers to be a considerable business risk. Burkhard Jung, mayor of?Leipzig, said in a recent interview, ?Until about two years ago we had hardly heard of companies in the region struggling to find skilled staff. But the scarcity of engineers appears to have become an issue now.?

The shortage has also made for rising salaries. Management level engineers earn on an average ?84,000, a 19% rise since 2006. Automakers are also looking outside Germany for manpower, particularly from China and other fast growing markets. Porsche?s personnel chief, Thomas Edig, said, ?We also want to recruit employees from China and India because we need their knowhow and understanding of their home markets.?


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