Expanding “HELLA Lithuania”: Europe no longer has borders not only on the map but also in our company
Photo: “Helia Lithuania” archive
Although officially a new plant of German automobile industry giant HELLA was opened in the Kaunas Free Economic Zone just a few months ago, their search for employees began much earlier. At present, the new plant employs over 70 specialists, and in the next two years, the HELLA unit in Kaunas should employ about 250 people. We talk with Jurgita Macijauskienė, Head of Human Resources department at HELLA Lithuania, about the formation of the team.
How many employees are currently working in the company and what are their positions? How fast the team is growing and what are your plans for the coming years?
“Currently, HELLA Lithuania has 74 employees who were employed in 13 months, so it’s easy to calculate that on average we employ 5-6 employees per month. Mostly they are engineering specialists, working in logistics, quality, installation, maintenance and production departments. We also have less qualified workers who work in production directly, but so far, their number is not large.
Regarding the development of the company, we are pleased to be a fast-growing team, and we are planning to exceed the number of 100 employees by the end of the year. We already see that the number of employees in the next two years will reach 250.”
What specialist do you need the most and is it easy to find them?
“I talk with candidates a lot, so I have already heard a lot of myths about our company and our selections: for example, people think that they need to have higher education to become a production operator or warehouse worker at HELLA Lithuania. I deny this myth, there really is no such requirement. We have great young people who are still studying and working to gain experience and move up the career ladder after their graduation.
At the factory, specialists from different fields find a place to adapt their knowledge and experience, but employees with engineering education are needed the most.
Of course, the majority of the HELLA Lithuania team members are from Kaunas and Kaunas district, but we also have specialists who commute from Vilnius, several of our employees have returned to Lithuania from England and Germany. At the moment, we have two trainees who are Lithuanians, but they are studying abroad, while some time ago, we trained two German students. As you can see, Europe no longer has borders not only on the map but also in our company.”
In your opinion, what benefits of the company attract employees?
“I can say with no doubt that the greatest strength of HELLA Lithuania is young and open-minded team. Every employee is provided with the opportunity to develop and achieve their goals which are truly ambitious in the automotive industry. At present, we are only 74 of more than 40,000 HELLA employees, but we are a multicultural team, working closely with each other.
Of course, it is also very important for us to ensure that the working conditions and the motivating package are socially correct, reflecting the contribution and the achievements of each employee.
I believe that the attractiveness of HELLA Lithuania consists of already existing members of the team, respect for each other, internationalization, exchange of ideas and experience and the common goals of the entire corporation. For young professionals, this is an excellent opportunity to grow and gain knowledge in a world-class company.”
Which type of professionals are easier to find and where do you feel the shortage?
“I start to assume that a big part of the selection process involves a simple success – even if you quickly find a candidate to an open position, it’s not yet possible to say that there are enough of such specialists, because the search for a second employee may take time. But, of course, fortune smiles upon those who have faith and act on it, and so far, we have managed to select workers for almost all positions on time.”
How do you work with new staff? Are you prepared to train your own specialists if you do not find them on the market?
“The number of employees with experience in the automotive industry is very low in Lithuania. However, the founders of HELLA Lithuania have already knew this before investing here. We train employed specialists in our other factories, mostly in Europe, although there were some more exotic countries. At the same time, our colleagues come to Lithuania to train our employees. So, in our office, we constantly communicate in different languages, and we often share our experiences and working conditions over a cup of coffee and lunch.”
Do you collaborate with Lithuanian higher education institutions or maybe you have a plan to establish partnerships?
“Yes, cooperation with academic institutions is part of the overall human resources policy of HELLA, and this was one of our first steps in Lithuania – to introduce ourselves to the heads of universities, universities of applied sciences, vocational training centers and students. And now that we already have a functioning production line, we can further expand our cooperation with academic institutions and offer students various practical development programs.
At present, we offer students several paid practice places in technical maintenance and production departments. We can also offer the usual compulsory graduation practice in one of our departments, as well as topics for graduation theses.
We strongly believe that highly skilled engineers are being trained in Lithuania, and we are ready to provide them with practical knowledge from the global automotive industry.”
Are people coming to work already know about HELLA? Is the Kaunas labor market familiar with this brand?
“Yes, usually, they know: if not from the press, then at least they have read the information on our website. In general, the culture of selection in Lithuania is developing, so candidates read about the company’s activities before sending a CV. I am glad that candidates in selections nowadays are more active, they want to know more about their job, the company and career perspectives. This means that young professionals are looking for a viable job and not going to work for the company simply because “they have accepted me” or “it was the only offer.”