If Germans associate one company with the state of Baden-Wurttemberg it is the automotive group DaimlerChrysler. The group was formed in 1998 through the merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler of the US. But the local association dates back to the late 1890s, when Daimler and Benz began the automotive age by producing the world's first motor cars. DaimlerChrysler is one of the mainstays of the Baden-Wurttemberg economy, sustaining 242,000 people in employment across Germany - the bulk of them in the state.
To extend its global reach, the company has ambitious plans to grow in the automotive business, and will invest ˆ46bn developing sixty-four new cars and truck models in the next few years. Research and development spending is set to soar to what a spokesman says is “a market leading position”. This year the company aims for sales of ˆ146bn, compared with previous forecasts of ˆ139.9bn.
One of the most critical issues facing the group as it attempts to achieve those targets is where it will find, in sufficient numbers, people with the right qualifications to make it all happen. Baden-Wurttemberg and Germany alone will not be able to provide enough recruits. “DaimlerChrysler needs to hire 4,500 engineers and IT people in the next three years,” says Marc Binder of Human Resources. “That's a big number and it will be impossible to find enough of them in Germany, let alone in one region. You have to hire them from the top schools in the world.”
Traditionally, Daimler-Benz always recruited engineers within Germany. In 1999, however, its recruitment campaign went global. Part of the impetus was that the transatlantic merger had broadened the spectrum of job opportunities. Using the Internet, DaimlerChrysler issued a blanket invitation to college graduates around the world - with emphasis on mechanical engineering, process technology and aerospace engineering - to attend an open day at eleven DaimlerChrysler locations around the world. Of the 800 who attended, about 55 per cent were invited for interview - a far higher proportion than in previous recruitment drives.
A few months later, the group launched a novel campaign to attract recruits for its International Management Associate Program. It advertised in the international press, inviting would-be trainees to call a company hotline during a four-hour period over two days. Some 200 applicants were interviewed.
Competition for talent from other large industrial groups is bound to increase. Rivals such as BMW, in neighboring Bavaria, have similar needs. But Mr Binder says: “We try to convince would-be recruits that we're the most global company and it's more interesting to work at DaimlerChrysler in this exciting period after the merger.” Recruits are also offered opportunities to work in different units of the group.
The recruitment problem has been made worse by a steady decline in the number of students electing to study engineering since the early 1990s - when there were too many newly-qualified engineers entering the market. Large numbers of students chose to study other subjects, leading to today's shortage.
DaimlerChrysler is supporting initiatives to try to ensure a steady flow of engineers and graduates from other technical disciplines. Over the course of the next few years, the group will be supporting the establishment of two private universities in Baden-Wurttemberg the Stuttgart Institute of Management and no Technology and the International University of Germany in Bruchsal.
From the Financial Times
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