International electronic component companies based in Kaunas with a long track record of successful activity have recently ramped up their production capacities. Also, new international players actively entering the Lithuanian market have rapidly increased the demand for qualified professionals in electronics. This has provided an impetus for the corporate and public sector to join their forces in an attempt to attract as much electronic engineering talent as possible to Kaunas.
Plans for two-fold increase in the number of electronic engineering students
Seeking to take urgent action to attract new talent to Kaunas, the major electronic component manufacturers based in the region of Kaunas, namely, Continental Automotive Lithuania, HELLA Lithuania, Kitron, and Littelfuse LT, have joined their forces with Kaunas IN, a tourism, business and investment development & international city marketing agency; Invest Lithuania; Kaunas University of Technology (KTU); and Kaunas University of Applied Engineering Sciences (KTK). They have launched a new initiative titled “The Future Belongs to Electronic Engineers”. The hope is that this initiative will help achieve a two-fold increase in the number of new electronic engineering students in Kaunas within the next two years.
The campaign will aim at introducing higher grades students, their parents and teachers, in an engaging way, to the operational processes of the major electronic component manufacturers in the region of Kaunas, their development plans and available career opportunities, and at making an active effort to ensure continued, long-term popularisation of electronic engineering degrees.
Continuous growth in demand for specialists
“There has been a rise in demand globally for electronic engineers. The same holds true for Lithuania which has recently become the country of choice for the major international manufacturing and technology companies seeking to develop and expand their businesses. As of today, and in the near future, the most in-demand specialists will include process engineers, testing engineers, and product placement specialists. For the above jobs, businesses seek candidates possessing knowledge in mechatronics, electronics, automation, robotics, or mechanics,” Andrius Francas, partner at personnel recruitment agency Alliance for Recruitment, said.
According to him, with the entry of international electronics companies in Lithuania, the demand for engineering industry professionals is now 4.7 times higher than their supply. Four companies in Kaunas involved in the initiative currently employ nearly 2,000 specialists, and in the coming years the companies will be able to provide employment to over 1,000 electronic engineers. Meanwhile, the total number of those who have enrolled in KTU and KTK to pursue degrees in electronic engineering has decreased in the recent years with just 156 new students choosing specialities related to electronic engineering in 2020.
Comments from initiative participants:
Shayan Ali, Managing Director of Continental Lithuania
“Rapidly advancing global mobility trends which have been increasingly shifting towards electrification and comfort have also been setting the tone when it comes to workforce demand. Our Continental production site in Kaunas manufactures premium electronic components for the world’s leading car brands. It is thus no wonder that nearly every job that we create (and we are projecting around 1,500 jobs in the coming years) will require good knowledge of electronics and in particular electronic engineering. Possessing knowledge in electronics does not necessarily mean that you have to work as an electronic engineer. People who have specific knowledge in the field of electronics can consider any of our 40 positions encompassing different responsibilities to pursue a variety of different career paths. Looking at our need for specialists as well as that of other electronics manufacturers in Kaunas, I can say with confidence that the choice to pursue electronic engineering degrees is one of the most promising decisions that will most certainly help you pave your career path. If we look at the Lithuanian market, there has recently been a shortage of electronic manufacturing technicians, process engineers, testing engineers and quality engineers, and especially specialists possessing a combination of skills in electronic engineering and management which offer access to top-level positions. We hope that our message will be heard and that it will encourage a greater number of people to pursue specialities in electronics so that we can all grow and improve together,” Shayan Ali, Managing Director of Continental Lithuania, said.
Jurgita Macijauskienė, Director of the Human Resources Department at HELLA Lithuania
“The 21st century Lithuania can no longer call itself a cheap labour country. Rapid development of the country’s infrastructure, technological progress across various sectors of industry and foreign investment have led to a decrease in the demand for cheap unqualified labour and a growing demand for engineers in the fields of electronics, automation and robotics. This may sound paradoxical, but the number of students pursuing engineering specialities has dropped by 41 percent over the past five years despite the growing demand for these specialists and the rapidly growing salaries in the field. We believe that this paradoxical situation can be explained by factors relating to school education. We strongly support the project aimed at promoting electronic engineering specialities for we have already created over 100 jobs for employees holding degrees in mechanics, electronics, automation or other engineering fields, and this comes after completion of just 1 out of 4 stages of our development in Lithuania. We hope that our contribution will encourage young people to pursue careers in engineering,” J. Macijauskienė said.
Mindaugas Šeštokas, CEO of Kitron
“Technology is developing at a cosmic pace, and our modern world is undergoing a great deal of change which in turn leads to a continuous growth in the demand for electronics specialists. Unfortunately, Lithuania is now witnessing a critical supply-demand imbalance due to the shortage of electric engineering professionals. We hope that the joint initiative between corporate and academic centres will encourage prospective students to envision and pursue their future careers in electronics as it is a very promising and interesting field for young people providing them with opportunities to choose their desired path and to apply their knowledge in the field of their choice where they can create and develop future technology or lead projects that will shape our future,” M. Šeštokas said.
Aidas Kučys, CEO of Littelfuse LT
“Sustainable business development is not possible without sustainable talent development. One of the key factors to consider for international companies when identifying opportunities for geographical expansion is adequate supply of particular specialists in a specific region. To have a healthy supply of specialists meeting the market demand tomorrow, we have to act today. It is our goal to provide as much information as possible on studies and career options in electronic engineering to young people, their parents and teachers. This is the first project of this kind bringing together higher education institutions and international electronic engineering manufacturers in Kaunas. I am really excited that Littelfuse is among the partners of this ambitious project and we will make every effort to achieve the project’s goals,” Aidas Kučys, CEO of Littelfuse LT, said.
Mantas Katinas, CEO of Invest Lithuania
“In recent years, the region of Kaunas has been experiencing an upward trend in terms of investment attraction. However, when it comes to human resources, the trend is moving to the opposite direction as we are witnessing a rapid growth in the demand for engineering industry specialists and a decrease in the number of students who choose to pursue in-demand fields. The emergence of major electronic component manufacturers in Kaunas and the growing automotive industry cluster unavoidably lead to an increase in the demand for electronic engineers who are essential for these companies. The number of students pursuing in-demand specialities is an important indicator of the attractiveness of the region. This is why it is necessary to focus on this issue and to take timely action to make change. The initiative aimed at promoting electronic engineering is a great example how to bring the academic, corporate and public sectors together to work towards a common goal,” M. Katinas said.
Eugenijus Valatka, Lector at KTU
“This agreement between the corporate, municipal and academic organisations in Kaunas is a very important step towards raising the profile of electrical and electronic engineering as one of the most prestigious and in-demand occupations in the world. Progress in any industry or business would not be possible without the professionals working in this field. Unfortunately, these occupations are still being undervalued in Lithuania due to the prevalent stereotypes which are totally out of step with today’s trends. I believe that our joint action will enable us to bring about a shift in the public’s attitudes,” E. Valatka said.
Nerijus Varnas, Director of Kaunas University of Applied Engineering Sciences (KTK)
“The emphasis that large international companies place on the problem of the cultivation of talents in electronics is a signal for educational policy makers to consider when mapping the demand for occupations required for the country and developing incentives for those who decide to pursue degrees in electronic engineering. Each year, we accept a group of first-year students which, unfortunately is not as large as we expected since the laboratory and material base as well as the academic staff potential that our university can offer greatly surpass the numbers of our students. Another important aspect is the expectations of the companies that create new jobs. The companies expect that we will not only deliver an adequate supply of specialists but that we will also show flexibility in responding to changes and in providing out students with the competences that are in demand in the today’s workforce. We are ready to meet those challenges. Our study programme in Electronic Technology has received the Investors Spotlight quality reward which is an important testimony to the fact that our programme complies with relevant requirements as testified by employers and investors,” N. Varnas said.
Andrius Veršinskas, Director of the Business Department and Acting Director of Kaunas IN, a tourism, business and investment development & international city marketing agency
“Kaunas has been the hub of electronic engineering for over a century now. Substantial foreign investment and strong competencies cultivated by higher education institutions in this field have allowed the city to maintain and strengthen this position, whereas the wave of new investment that has occurred in the recent years has significantly enhanced and highlighted the prospects of Kaunas as the hub of electronic engineering which has been increasingly gaining importance. However, these factors have also posed a challenge to the sustainability of its further development.
Vacant state-funded study places in Kaunas point to the fact that young people fail to use the opportunities to acquire in-demand knowledge and skills and to choose a promising career path. Insufficient student interest in this study field which is often the result of a lack of information on career opportunities leads to strategic problems in the development of one of the most promising industries of Kaunas. It is this issue that has prompted us to take joint action involving corporate, academic and public sectors and to set goals that would help us significantly improve the situation,” A. Veršinskas said.