LOOKING FOR LABOR: Elcoteq Tallinn, a major electronics manufaturer, often has trouble finding workers to help fill out large orders.
TALLINN - Elcoteq Tallinn, the electronics manufacturer that has been feeling the pinch of the local labor shortage, has brought in 100 Hungarians to help execute a major order at its plant in Tallinn, according to reports.
Jaanus Pauts, public relations director at Elcoteq, told the Eesti Paevaleht daily that the company was constantly faced with the choice of whether to turn down large orders or to entice qualified labor from outside the country.
"Side by side with standing orders the number of major orders with short deadlines is constantly growing, so we are in a hurry to find extra labor," he said. "Often we have to find the necessary 100 workers within just a month."
He said that orders for communication network installations were growing the most and that the Tallinn facility could provide dozens of jobs.
"We need both white and blue collar staff and the respective training will be organized for everyone," Pauts said.
According to Pauts, the Hungarians from Elcoteq's Pecs facility have been to the Tallinn facility before and have shared their know-how with Estonians.
Pauts said the rental labor market was operating well in Hungary, because the country has several similar electronic industries. He said that it was expensive to import labor since travel costs had to be covered, but carrying out the order outweighed the costs.
At the end of July Elcoteq Tallinn, a subsidiary of the Finnish electronics manufacturer, said it was planning to invest more than 100 million kroons (64 million euros) in 2007 due to increasing the share of products with greater added value.
According to Pauts, current plans call for a further investment of approximately 70 million kroons in the second half of the year. The firm is investing mainly in production and testing equipment necessary for making the new products included in its portfolio.
"In addition, extra client-specific investments in an even bigger amount are possible," he added.
Citing volatility of the mobile devices market and modest sales by Nokia, the electronics manufacturer Elcoteq is focusing its Estonian operations on more stable orders such as the production of equipment for communications networks.
The Estonian unit has announced it is planning to move production of communications network equipment to an older and larger plant next to its Tallinn headquarters and leave the more volatile projects to the other plant. The larger plant has been used so far to make mobile handsets and digiboxes, the production of which has declined, according to the company.
"In the near future the main emphasis will be on retraining employees and increasing competence," Elcoteq Tallinn's director, Heikki Maki, was quoted as saying in July.
"On the other hand, it's important to optimize the total expenses of our customers, which doesn't mean only cost reduction but also better quality of service and faster service," he said.
Elcoteq's Estonian unit laid off nearly 50 employees in July. Pauts said that the decision was the result of a restructuring, according to which some employees preferred not to start retraining and considered it better to leave since during the training period their wages would drop.
Elcoteq Tallinn, which was established in 1992, saw its sales drop one-fifth last year to 1 billion kroons, while earnings fell 6 percent to 39.9 million kroons.
Elcoteq is a leading manufacturer of devices worldwide for telecommunication companies such as Nokia and Ericsson. In 2006 consolidated sales amounted to 4.3 billion euros. The group employs 23,000 people world-wide.