The days of the male dominated electronics industry in the Baltics are over. Fresh new faces are present and women play a large part in all aspects of the industry. As new jobs open up, youth and students eagerly fill them. We take a look at the electronics industry of yesteryear, the present multinational corporations and the future of electronics in the region. This weeks Industry Insider is about Electronics.
RIGA - Huge amounts of foreign direct investment have pumped life and vitality into the Estonian electronics industry, making it a champion amongst all Estonian industries.
Although many companies and even government enterprises in the Baltic States have been eviscerated or stripped down by recent economic problems, the Estonian electronics industry may just be well-placed to survive the storm. The industry has grown steadily thanks to infusions of cash from Western European investors.
As a result, this high-tech industry provides secure jobs in an attractive location for multinationals to build branch plants. "We have found people in Estonia extremely well motivated," said Ilmar Petersen, the enthusiastic vice president of electronics giant Elcoteq Europe. He has also been highly satisfied by the high quality of electro-technical production work done in Estonia.
The diverse high tech industry in Estonia produces a wide variety of electronic goods, ranging from hearing aids to bus information panels. As a result, Estonia has emerged as the top Baltic performer in terms of electronics industry growth. Furthermore, the electronics industry is now one of the fastest developing industries of the Estonian economy.
The electronics industry in Estonia consists of more than 345 companies. Most are small and medium-sized enterprises, employing 50 people or less, but there are also a number of large multinationals with branches in Estonia. These account for approximately one third of Estonia's electronic output.
Currently, there are approximately 14,500 skilled people employed in the electronics industry in Estonia.
The biggest player in the Estonian electronics industry is Elcoteq, a multinational powerhouse that produces personal communications devices. Mobile phones, mobile phone parts and other wireless communication devices make up a major part of their overall production.
Two of Elcoteq's largest plants, in terms of number of employees, are in Tallinn. The corporation employs 2,000 people in its Estonian branch. Elcoteq's total production area in Tallinn is 42,000 square meters.
The Elcoteq company, as an international conglomerate, currently employs a total of 24,000 people in 15 countries on four continents.
Elcoteq's Estonian branch focuses on volume production: the mass production of high-tech products, which takes advantage of a low-cost, highly skilled workforce. Thus, the Estonian branch of Elcoteq fulfills a role similar to that of its branches in Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Hungary, Romania, China and India.
Elcoteq's customer list includes telecommunication giants Nokia, Ericsson, Philips, Motorola, and Siemens. In a global environment where everyone seems to have a mobile phone, and where urbanites feel a constant drive to upgrade to the latest product, surely those employees working at Elcoteq have among the most secure positions in Estonia.
While Elcoteq, the largest electronics company in Estonia, focuses on the telecom industry, there are other areas of the electronics industry that are just as important. Circuit boards and computers are in fact the top two electronic products produced in Estonia. Estonia has become a prominent exporter of circuit boards and computers, for the tech-hungry markets of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the U.K. and even Latvia.