The demand is huge for welders, machine cutters, but forklift drivers, seamstresses and electricians are also wanted in the area – Press Release
The labour market of the Southern Great Plain region suffered significantly from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, and the unemployment rate temporarily rose sharply during its first waves. However, in the last two quarters of 2021 a rearrangement was experienced, resulting in labour shortage in the region in several areas. There is a great demand for skilled workers, especially in the food- and heavy industry and also for skilled manual workers. The automotive sector has recoiled due to the global semiconductor shortage, but the industry is also expected to recover significantly in the first half of this year, which is likely to create further labour demand in the Southern Great Plain region, according to the Regional Manager of WHC Group.
WHC Group, being the largest Hungarian-owned HR service provider in the country, specializes primarily in temporary staffing and recruitment. The company serves its regional customers from its own local offices. WHC serves its partners located in Csongrád-Csanád and Békés counties from Szeged, and Bács-Kiskun and Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok counties from Kecskemét.
Therefore, WHC has a direct and significant insight into the labour market processes in the region. “In our experience, the service and the automotive industries have suffered the most from the pandemic in terms of the labour market. In Csongrád-Csanád county, as an area strongly building on services, significant layoffs were made in the hospitality sector, for example. The manufacturing industry, on the other hand, provided an opportunity for dismissed workers almost immediately, as demand for the products of several, such as chemical companies, increased – precisely because of the pandemic, which required significant labour force. In Bács-Kiskun and Békés counties, due to the global semiconductor shortage, some redundancies were made in the automotive industry in the second and third quarters of 2021. However, the sector is expected to recover in the first half of this year,” highlighted Márk Bajkán, Regional Manager of WHC Group, responsible for Csongrád-Csanád and Békés counties.
According to the experience of WHC, the number of unemployed increased significantly in the whole region in the second quarter of 2020, which peaked in the first quarter of 2021: the rate of the unemployed in the population has roughly doubled from the level of a year earlier. “After the peak, a decline began, and by the third quarter of 2021, the situation was beginning to normalize. In Csongrád-Csanád county, for example, the unemployment rate of 4.9% at the beginning of the year fell to less than half, to 2.4%,” explains the manager of the Szeged office.
Examining the general labour market characteristics of the Southern Great Plain region, it can be seen that the automotive industry and its suppliers, and companies operating in the plastics, metal and electronics industries provide the most jobs. Within this, in Csongrád-Csanád county the light industry and the service sector are the main employers. Although Békés county can be considered primarily an agricultural area from an economic point of view, the active age population still works mostly in the manufacturing industry.
“A strong labour market factor in the region is the labour absorption of seasonal agricultural work from other sectors, which can lead to a significant reorganization of the labour market at different times of the year, such as during the cresting or harvest period,” added Márk Bajkán.
Within the region, Szeged has special features, as compared to other towns, it is not the heavy industry which dominates the economy, but the so-called “diversified knowledge-intensive” industry. In addition to the spread of Shared Service Centers (SSCs) for multinational companies, the IT sector is gaining ground in the city as well. The largest employer in the city is the University of Szeged.
At the regional level, the number of vacancies is highest in trained physical jobs that do not require qualification. Among jobs that require a professional qualification, metal industry workers are typically needed the most, such as welder, machine cutter, locksmith; but there is also a shortage of forklift workers, machine adjusters, electricians and mechanics. Filling these positions is the greatest challenge, as workers with relevant experience typically have higher earning opportunities in the Western part of the country and abroad.
Most of the open job opportunities cover trained physical jobs, generally in the assembling, packing and material handling positions.
With the recovery of the automotive industry, huge demand for labour force can be expected from car manufacturers and their most important suppliers from the first and second quarters of 2022, for which the solution, according to WHC, may be to employ workers from the Far East in the longer term.
“Regarding third-country workers, we find that Hungarian-owned employers are more cautious about their employment for the time being, but multinational companies are open to employ foreign workers, as the number of people of working age in Hungary is declining. The integration of cross-border workers into production can provide the fastest and most efficient response to labour shortages, as fluctuation is not as high amongst them, and at the same time they can reduce the overburdening of Hungarian workers. They can play a key role in productivity of the employing companies; thus, they have an importance in retaining the local workforce and jobs as well,” explains the Regional Manager of WHC Group.
The increase of the gross general minimum wage and the guaranteed minimum wage is expected to have a labour-retaining effect in Békés and Csongrád-Csanád counties, but it will affect Bács-Kiskun county only to a lesser extent. “At the national level, Békés county has one of the lowest average net earnings (HUF 205,000 in the first quarter of 2021), Csongrád-Csanád county is placed in the middle (HUF 236,000 in the first quarter of 2021). It is expected that, as in previous years, the wage development will follow the tendency of the gross general minimum wage and the guaranteed minimum wage increase, and employers will try to compensate for the lower base wage with various non-wage benefits,” explains Márk Bajkán.
“In our 10-person office in Szeged, which serves Csongrád-Csanád and Békés counties, we work with dozens of customers, operating mainly in the automotive, metal and manufacturing sectors. But of course, our team of experts caters to the HR needs of partners in any field, regardless of industry,” summarises the activities of the Szeged office Márk Bajkán. The main focus of the regional office is the employment and placement of skilled and trained workers, but the office provides a wide range of HR services; in addition to temporary workforce hiring, it also manages recruitment and cooperative employment as well. “WHC, which has been acclaimed three times with Best Employers Award by Kincentric, is proud to have achieved its success as a team, in a unit, in which individual performance also plays a huge role,” the Regional Manager added.
Source: WHC Group