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The Polish Industry Sector: A Slight Rise in Employment Amidst a Shortage of Candidates

INDUSTRIESThe Polish Industry Sector: A Slight Rise in Employment Amidst a Shortage of Candidates

Despite ongoing economic uncertainty, the industrial sector has seen a slight increase in employment, particularly in construction. The most sought-after are skilled manual workers, with demand for them rising by 34% year-on-year. Wages are growing less dynamically than a year earlier, with the highest increases recorded in the automotive and equipment manufacturing sectors at 7.6%, according to the “Industrial Sector Wage Report” by Grafton Recruitment.

– The current state of the industrial sector is heterogeneous. On the one hand, there are reports of plant closures and production relocations, while on the other hand, new factories are being opened, and more investors are showing interest in our market. It is worth noting that the industry’s current condition is strongly influenced by both economic and geopolitical factors. The significant price increases over the past year have impacted demand, with consumers remaining cautious. The double increase in the minimum wage and the rise in other wages have also been significant for companies’ conditions, says Danuta Protasewicz, regional manager at Grafton Recruitment.

The sector continues to face the consequences of the ongoing war in Ukraine, the reorganization of sales markets and the global supply chain, and demand volatility. The effects of general economic uncertainty, rising labor, energy, and raw material costs are confirmed by the April PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) reading of 45.9.

According to GUS data, entrepreneurs expect an improvement in their companies’ situation within the next three months or already notice improvements. Analysts predict that despite the rather weak results of the domestic industry, the observable revival in the eurozone may positively impact the increase in orders in the Polish industrial sector. However, it should be noted that the number of employments in this sector has been continuously declining since December 2022.

Foreign investors’ interest is also significant for the industrial sector’s prospects. However, as observed by the Polish Investment and Trade Agency, which mainly attracts projects in electronics and electromobility, the high level of production automation in acquired investments does not bring a significant increase in the number of jobs.

Whom does the industrial sector want to hire?

Attention is drawn to the growing demand for manual workers in the production sector, both unskilled (“blue collars”) and skilled (“black collars”), whose demand has increased by 34% year-on-year. The sought-after specialists include technicians, automation specialists, electricians, and mechanics. At the same time, the demand for engineering and specialist positions fell below the market benchmark, although the data from the beginning of the second quarter of 2024 and a slight upward trend in the number of job offers are optimistic.

The highest demand for workers compared to other branches of the industrial sector is seen in construction. It particularly concerns specialist roles, and the most sought-after and best-paid specializations are in the road, bridge, railway, sanitary, and electrical industries.

At the same time, a slight increase in demand is noticeable in the number of job advertisements related to supply chain management and production engineering roles. Positions such as process engineers and maintenance engineers (automation, mechanics, electrics) are in demand.

There is also a continuous increase in interest in jobs in supporting departments (back office) in production companies – in accounting, HR, sales, and marketing. Candidates are looking more favorably at job offers in the sector, appreciating the attractiveness of positions, the complexity of responsibilities, and greater career development opportunities than in other industries.

The smallest increase in demand for roles was noted in the research and development area, which, after a period of record demand for talent, returned to the level of 2020. This situation may be influenced by fluctuations in the IT industry and the still undefined direction of the automotive sector’s transformation towards electromobility. However, a slight upward trend is currently noticeable in this group of positions.

Wage Levels

The average gross wage in the industrial sector remains lower than in other economic sectors. While in April 2024, the average wage in the enterprise sector was PLN 8,272 gross, with an average wage increase of 11.3%, in manufacturing, it was PLN 7,796 gross, and in construction, PLN 8,137. Meanwhile, in the electricity, gas, steam, and hot water production and supply sector, the wage was PLN 11,071.

In construction, an engineer earns up to PLN 12,000, a site manager up to PLN 20,000, and an electrical installation designer up to PLN 18,000, depending on experience and region. In the FMCG and pharmaceuticals sector, a production manager and a logistics manager can expect a salary of up to PLN 22,000, a mechanic and an electrician up to PLN 10,000, while a forklift operator up to PLN 8,000. In the automotive industry, a mechanic’s salary is up to PLN 9,000, a production operator up to PLN 7,000, a welder up to PLN 10,000, and an engineer up to PLN 14,000. In distribution centers, a logistics manager earns up to PLN 20,000, a forwarder and a foreman up to PLN 10,000, and a planner up to PLN 12,000. For back-office employees, the salary of a marketing manager is up to PLN 22,000, a service manager up to PLN 20,000, an HR specialist up to PLN 11,000, and an accountant up to PLN 13,000. In R&D centers, a design department manager earns up to PLN 30,000, an electronics engineer up to PLN 17,000, and a test leader up to PLN 26,000.

Wages in the sector are growing less dynamically than a year ago, averaging 4% for managerial positions (compared to 6.9% last year), 7% for specialist positions (9.4% last year), and 9% for skilled and unskilled production workers (12% last year). The highest average increase was recorded in the automotive and equipment manufacturing sectors – 7.6% (compared to 9% last year) and in distribution centers – 7.1%, the same as last year. The smallest increase concerns R&D centers and engineering centers (2.4%, compared to 11.6% last year).

Employee Retention is Key for the Sector

A significant obstacle to the development of the industrial sector may be the increasing employee turnover, which – according to this year’s edition of the “Labor Market Barometer” by Gi Group Holding – already affects 32% of surveyed companies. Changes are visible in all types of enterprises, regardless of their size or industry, with the increased turnover rate being more often noted in the largest entities (last year, 83% of them did not have such a problem, this year only 40.2%) and the industrial sector (38.6% – 47.1 percentage points year-on-year). Higher turnover issues concern all types of positions, with lower-level employees, particularly in the industrial sector (19%, up by 11.3 percentage points year-on-year), being more frequently reported.

– The percentage of those planning to change jobs is alarmingly rising, and for the first time in several years, it is higher than the percentage intending to continue working in their current place. The main motivator for change is pay conditions, and non-financial factors such as a good atmosphere, work-life balance, and opportunities for development and skill enhancement also play a significant role – comments Tomasz Tarabuła, regional director at Gi Group Poland S.A.

Further Decline in the Number of Technical College Students

A worrying phenomenon for the industrial sector is the steadily decreasing percentage of students studying at technical colleges.

In the 2022/2023 academic year, the number of students in technical, industrial, and construction fields decreased by almost 5% compared to the previous period. The largest declines are visible in the Opolskie (-9.3%), Warmińsko-Mazurskie (-8%), and Łódzkie (-7.5%) voivodeships. The only region where the number of students in technical colleges increased was the Pomorskie voivodeship (1.1%).

– The continuing decline in the number of technical college students should be viewed from the perspective of staffing shortages in the industrial sector, which has struggled for years to recruit specialists, particularly at the mid-level. Although this year, a smaller percentage of companies complain about recruitment problems, the concern of firms should not be surprising as they plan for the long term. Promoting the industry, which offers attractive career development, especially in the context of modern technology use, is becoming increasingly important – comments Joanna Ciężkowska, co-author of the report and Brand Manager at Grafton Recruitment.

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