The strong position of the automotive industry in Slovakia and its success is well known. Positive messages are expected about companies’ production growth and their contribution to higher employment in the regions – and the results of our current survey again demonstrate this. In all of our surveys over the last five years, we have seen more than half of suppliers reporting a substantial increase in their revenues as well as a related rise in staff numbers. This is an achievement which the management of automotive suppliers in Slovakia can be proud of.
As in previous years, the positive development of suppliers’ production have been driven by higher volumes for OEMs, new nominations and the relocation of production to local plants. This also reflects a recognition of Slovak suppliers’ product quality, manufacturing effectiveness, safety and other KPIs at their international groups. However, continued expansion of production is a difficult task and requires strategic decisions on new investments in technology, and in innovation and labour, which remain the most pressing current challenges.
In this year’s survey, we focus on suppliers’ long-term plans, how they are coping with the labour market situation and how they support innovation at their companies. We also asked suppliers about their plans for cooperation with secondary schools and universities.
What are the key findings of the survey? Suppliers in Slovakia are set to increase production volumes and hire new staff, despite customer pricing pressure and labour market conditions. Their long-term plans include new investments and continued cost control and productivity efforts. Companies have a different approach to local innovation process, its justification and implementation efficiency. The dual education system is an agenda where companies lack experience and resources and are calling for more support from schools and municipalities. Similarly, cooperation with universities is limited and may require changes to the legislative framework. As a result, closer cooperation of automotive companies with educational institutions is becoming a critical factor as regards the industry’s future success.
We recently performed independent surveys in Hungary and Austria and we noted some interesting benchmarks. Respondents in both countries report - similar to Slovakia - growth for the past and current years, and are running at almost full capacity, a focus on technologies, and on issues regarding limited labour supply and HR management challenges. Companies there have more extensive R&D activities and different expectations for production transfers and the need for new labour.
Director, specialist for the automotive industry