26th September 2017

Manufacturing Roundtable at Moduslink Brno

The representatives of the main manufacturing companies located in Brno accepted an invitation by Weston Stacey from the American Chamber of Commerce to meet and discuss two topics connected to their business, these being Automation & Industry 4.0 and the challenging situation in the labour market. The special guest at the event was Kelly Adams-Smith, Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. embassy in Prague, and First Secretary for Economic Affairs Patrick Ellsworth, who was also actively involved in the roundtable discussion. The meeting took place at Moduslink in Brno.

The first part of the meeting was focused on a currently very common topic of discussion, i.e. “Automation & Industry 4.0”. The discussion was moderated by András Kadocsa, Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company. He pointed out in his presentation that it is necessary to rethink the way companies conduct their business. First of all, they should reach the next horizon of operational efficiency, adapt their business models to capture shifting value pools, and then transform themselves into digital companies. Manufacturing digitization in driven by four disruptive technologies that create a digital thread throughout the product lifecycle and are linked to intelligent machines and products. There are four such areas of disruptive technologies: analytics and intelligence, human-machine interaction, digital-to-physical conversion, and data and connectivity.

The second part of the discussion involved the labour workforce availability issue and was moderated by Petr Jurecka, General Manager of ModusLink Brno. The participants mainly talked about the increasing demand for labour positions in the South Moravia region for manufacturing companies, foreign labour from EU and non-EU countries, and what strategies employers pursue to overcome the shortage of workers.

Most manufacturing companies must deal with the shortage of employees, because Czech people are not interested in working in certain areas or the requested skills are not available or they leave the country and work abroad. That’s why companies start to look for new workers around the world. However, this is not so easy, since they very often have to face administrative obstacles (e.g. visas, work permits, quotas) and excessive demand in the labour market in Eastern European countries (from which people used to come to work to the Czech Republic). In order to attract employees, company culture and reputation plays an important factor.

Cooperation with schools was also a very frequent topic and not every experience was positive. Some companies cooperating with secondary technical schools, for example, have to confront the limited number of students which the schools have offered them. This was not due to a limited number of students at the schools, but due to limited state financial support. 

Despite this, the overall economic situation in the region and also in the Czech Republic is positive, and it has also had a positive impact on business. Today and also the next year…   

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic