The Russian human resources market experiences a deficit in power engineering and metallurgy. The shortage of professional specialists in the industry of the country has always been a pressing issue, but in the last years the production output at metallurgical enterprises and in fuel and energy companies has been actively increasing, therefore the deficiency of human resources is acute. Even though the number of graduates for metallurgical and other industrial enterprises is rather large, the complete market saturation with staff is a good distance off. Several large companies have therefore started solving this problem on their own.
Power engineering and metallurgy industries have huge capacities for the increases in productivity and business efficiency. And low efficiency is mainly caused by this shortage.
For instance, the personnel of the metallurgical industry are represented by the people of retirement or pre-retirement age (according to different estimations, it is approximately 46 %). The average age of employees in the industry is 41 years old. And, as predicted, this figure will be higher and higher up until 2018. The number of experts with a higher education averages about 16 % in the sector. Absenteeism is quite high - about 10 %. The staff turnover in metallurgy is about 25 %.
The problem of the deficiency of high-qualified personnel is extremely acute for the modern Russian metallurgy. The shortage of professional specialists and low efficiency of production processes are the important factors which constrain the development of the economy, and in view of this, it is the main reason for concern for the directors of all metallurgical plants and companies of the power engineering complex.
Modern metallurgical enterprises implement innovative investment projects, modernize their production capacities and automate the key processes. For this purpose, they need highly skilled specialists such as engineers, mechanics, repairmen, pipe production operators, technologists, the number of which is insufficient in Russia.
According to different estimations, the deficiency of personnel in metallurgy is 10-15 %. And the shortage of staff is observed in all production processes: from design to engineering, from the development of new products to the manufacture of pipes with innovative characteristics.
The deficiency of professional human resources has resulted in various technical problems for a long time (failures to comply with the delivery timeframes and work performance periods), as well as complexities with the introduction of new developments and technologies, modern equipment. The problem demanded close attention on the part of the leading participants of the industry in order to find the best way to solve it.
Reasons for Shortage
There are several reasons for the shortage of high-qualified personnel in metallurgy.
Firstly, it is the insufficient number of specialized higher and secondary educational institutions in Russia which prepare human resoureces for the metallurgical industry. Due to the fact that the popularity of "non-industrial" trades (economists, lawyers, political scientists, etc.) has been growing in the country for a long time, the demand in metallurgical specialties has been at a quite low level.
Secondly, we can see that graduates from "industrial" institutes and colleges outflow into other industries (oil, gas, and defense ones) because there are more attractive salaries in those branches. Those who were trained in the field of metallurgy go to fuel and energy companies.
Thirdly, a demographic factor plays its role as well. According to Rosstat’s estimates, in March 2018 the economically active population of Russia numbered 76,1 million people or 59,6 % from the total population which represents a rather low level of working people in the country. For the purposes of comparison: this figure in Germany is about 74 %.
There are even fewer professionals in regions as everybody aspires to come to Moscow, Saint Petersburg and million-plus cities to earn money. As a rule, metropolitan cities only house operating companies or central headquarters of enterprises, but all production processes are concentrated on a local level.
As a result, many metallurgical enterprises are compelled to employee people of average qualification, to raise the age limit of employees up to 50 years and above and so on. However, it is not an effective solution to the staff shortage problem. There are also more rational decisions in metallurgy.
Generally speaking, metallurgy is an industry whose specific nature implies that even people holding entry level position should have a specialized education. Today the main priority in the control system of industrial enterprises is the high qualification of the personnel. In view of this, some power and metallurgical enterprises look after educational institutions or create their own centers for the preparation and improvement of professional skills of their employees. As a result, plants benefit from such projects which help them solve the personnel shortage problems and overcome difficulties related to the introduction of innovations.
For instance, the ChelPipe Group, with the assistance of the Government of the Sverdlovsk Region, has been implementing educational program “the Future of White Metallurgy” on the basis of Pervouralsk Metallurgical College since 2011. Within the frame of this project ChelPipe trains and receives competent experts corresponding to modern requirements of hi-tech manufacturing. This public and private partnership allowed constructing the Educational center which is unique for Russia. A new two-storeyed 7,500 m2 educational building is equipped with laboratories, tube-rolling mill simulators and other training technologies of leading companies of the world. In particular, the laboratory part of the center is equipped with five complexes with educational training simulators by Festo, Germany, and Prosoft, Italy. The cost of each complex ranges from 5 to 30 million Rubles. Each lab allows learning to work with electrotechnical equipment, hydraulics or mechanics within a short period of time. The experimental complex is equipped with advanced pipe and metallurgical equipment which is used at future workplaces of students. Here you can find such specialties as mechanic, mechatronic, mechanic-repairman, operator of pipe production, technologist of under-pressure metal processing, quality assurance instructor and many others, totaling to 30.
The program provides dual training standards which are new ones for the national branch: 60 % of the time is practice and 40 % is theory. During their education, students undergone an internship not only at modern production sites of the ChelPipe Group but also at the largest fuel and energy enterprises which are the basic consumers of products of the company of white metallurgists. After graduation, the best students will have the guaranteed employment in the most advanced workshops of Chelyabinsk Tube-Rolling Plant and Pervouralsk New Pipe Plant.
The training of experts, the improvement of their skills, the high efficiency of production processes in general, are implemented at the enterprise as part of the new standard called “White Metallurgy” developed by ChelPipe in Russia in 2010. Products, technologies, qualification of employees of the White Metallurgy enterprises correspond to very rigid modern standards which often advance the market requirements by some years.
As it was mentioned above, the training and improvement of professional skills of employees yielded tremendous results to the ChelPipe Group. For instance, the staff turnover at the company’s plants makes only 9 %. The average age of employees is 31 years old (as compared with 40 years old on average in the branch). Thus, 50 % of the personnel at the ChelPipe Group enterprises are people with a higher education, i.e. professionals who are able to work with modern technological equipment. The ChelPipe Group welcomes and encourages their employees to acquire new engineering specialties and provides all opportunities for training.
All production capacities of the ChelPipe Group defy the stereotypes. According to experts’ estimations, the production in the “Height 239” workshop, in the Finishing center and at the «Iron Ozone 32» plant is comparable with the organization of complicated technological processes in automobile and aircraft companies and even the IT industry. The principle of constant improvement is implemented in all shops which work in accordance with the White Metallurgy standard.
Thus, an in-depth view of the personnel matter allowed the ChelPipe Group to provide its production capacities with qualified personnel owing to which the plants of the Group implement long-term and scale investment programs. Since 2012 the ChelPipe Group has been realizing one more educational project in the format of a state-private partnership with the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan which is called «College of Tatarstan of the Future»: they constructed an educational center in Almetyevsk where the Alnas Plant, which is part of the oil service division of the company, is situated.
Obviously, the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects in the fuel and energy complex will be accompanied by an active development of the metallurgical industry. In view of an increase in the volumes of metallurgical products, the demand for services provided by companies of this industry is steadily and consequently growing, while the demand for experts in this field is still keeping up.