The Škoda Transportation Group, a manufacturer of trains, locomotives, trams, trolleybuses, buses, and metro cars, will invest six billion crowns by 2023 due to significant growth in new orders. The money will go mainly to the expansion of production capacities in Pilsen, Ostrava, and Šumperk, but also to the development of new products. The group wants to hire over a thousand employees this year. Last year, it strengthened by more than 600 to the current 5,500 people.
Thanks to new orders, the largest Central European manufacturer of rolling stock has a labor supply for about four years with a total value of around 80 billion crowns.
Škoda has investments of six billion crowns in a five-year plan that began in 2019, a year after it was taken over by the PPF Group. According to Brzezina, it had to speed up the investment plan because it won more contracts than it had calculated.
“Last year we invested about a billion and this year over two billion. In Pilsen, these are two large projects worth one billion crowns, and we had more in Ostrava, but they are also in Šumperk,” he said. The group launched its first investment in Pilsen last month. “This is a new rolling stock test facility building. It was our bottleneck due to the volume of orders, so we expanded it. And we are also building an extension of the hall to expand chassis production. Our capacity will double from the autumn,” he said.
The group is also expanding the Pars company in Šumperk, focused on modernization, service and repairs, the volumes of which are also growing significantly. It needs operations from welders to electricians to locksmiths, but also technicians and designers, which it is now recruiting.
According to Brzezina, most of the new people are heading to Pilsen, both to Škoda Transportation and to Škoda Electric. “Recruitment is not easy today and they were difficult, especially during the covid. But it is going well, although not exactly according to plan. Maybe we could not do interviews for a while,” he added. During the pandemic, the group did not have to interrupt production in any plant, but limited only some lines in the worst period.
According to Brzezin, due to the lack of people on the labor market, the number of foreign workers in the group is growing, especially in production and in technical professions. Škoda is also looking for people outside the Czech Republic. “We also have a branch in Ukraine, where we also employ technicians and designers,” he said.
The number of the group’s employees will increase this year with the acquisition of Ostrava’s Ekovy Electric with 200 people. The contract has been signed since last year, the takeover of the company is planned for August. “Ekova will be a manufacturer of trams. Today it is a service company that in the past also had some vehicles in its portfolio, and we will develop it,” said Brzezina. Ekova was established in January 2011 and is a subsidiary of Dopravní podnik Ostrava.
The Škoda Transportation Group has approximately one thousand employees abroad. Most, about 500 people, in Transtech, Finland, where it manufactures trams and trains. There, too, it invests in expansion and higher production efficiency.