It Will Be Difficult to Preserve the Steel Industry without Metallurgical Technicians

In the next five years, the steel companies will need several hundreds of new workers.

The metallurgy, which includes the steel industry, was classified as one of our strategic sectors. One of the key conditions for the development of this industry is to ensure the relevant technical specializations. Only two steel companies will need more than 450 new employees over the next five years due to the retirement of the old personnel.

The representatives of the Sij–Slovenska Industrija Jekla Company explain that within the next five years, they will need to replace approximately 300 metallurgical technicians who are going to retire. “This is not just our wish, but also a (pre) condition required to preserve and develop the steel sector in Slovenia,” the Company’s representatives emphasize. They note that at least another 50 new job positions should be added to this figure with a V-level of exigence related to the project expansion and technological modernization of manufacturing.

Sij is looking for a variety of specialists, but the most requested professions, besides metallurgical technicians, also include finishers, cutters, machinists, etc. The Company representatives emphasize that about half of the vacancies are accounted for Jesenice and Ravne.

The Sij Company also tries to secure good human resources with the help of scholarships. At the moment, it has 49 scholarship holders — 29 pupils and 20 students. Later on, the Company as a rule will employ these scholarship holders. This year, the Company leaders are planning to allocate another 63 new scholarships.


Labour immobility

Where else should the companies find new personnel? “In Slovenia, there is a significant and common factor of labour immobility, which in turn means a search for technical personnel, usually in the local environment,” the employers answer. Therefore, the Company administration fully supports the revival of the “Metallurgical Technician” specialization. Next year, it will bring together a new generation of students in Ravnah na Koroškem. The introduction of this acutely needed specialization is also planned in Jesenice.

The Sij Company recruits personnel for the high-tech and specific job positions, even abroad. At the same time, the Company recognizes that in such a situation it faces a completely uncompetitive labour taxation within the segment of above-average wages in Slovenia. “Therefore, it is very problematic to attract specialists of such profile.” This is one of the reasons, for which our steel companies seek to an optimal system of education that would focus on the acquisition of practical skills.


The Štora Steel Company has no problems so far

The representatives of the Štora Steel Company predict that they will have to replace from 100 to 125 workers during the coming five years, so they are already in search for new personal. As the Company representatives note, they employ candidates with secondary and higher education of various technical profiles (mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, metallurgy, and chemistry).

They are currently not too active in terms of scholarships. This year, the Company will provide two scholarships for the “Metallurgical Technician” program — one for Bachelor’s degree and one for Master’s degree. They add that all the scholarship holders are currently working, with the exception of students who failed to comply with regulations, and those who have changed the profession or field of study.

The Štora Steel Company representatives believe that the Government should have taken care of implementing a relevant professional orientation for young people, because it will allow the elimination of the current imbalances in the education system. “The state should support the already established successful forms of professional orientation, which allows young people to understand and realize their potential, level of innovation and creativity.”

The Litostroj Jeklo Company, which is in the process of financial restructuring, estimated that due to the increase in production volumes by 2024, it would be necessary to employ 160 new workers of the “Metallurgy”, “Machine Engineering” and “Electrical Engineering” profiles.


Professions of greatest demand

“The biggest challenge is to find narrow-specialized technical staff, especially engineers. The shaped profiles for specific work in our industry are even rarer and, of course, they are highly valued in the labour market,” the Litostroj Jeklo Company representatives note. On the other hand, the search for such specialized personnel is very difficult and requires a lot of time and effort. We are talking about manufacturing workers, for example, cutters, welders, etc. The Company now has one scholarship holder — a master’s program student. Starting from the new academic year, another scholarship will be assigned to a higher education study program.

The Ministry of Education claims to follow the needs of the economy, but they did not answer on how to motivate young people to acquire vacant professions. Their data show that only 22 students were enrolled to the “Metallurgy” study program last year, and only 2 students — to the “Carving on Metal” program.