Eugen Capră: “Romania needs a system with vocational schools”

The shortage of skilled personnel is blocking the expansion plans for many Romanian food producers.

Posted on Aug 01 ,06:35

Eugen Capră: “Romania needs a system with vocational schools”

One of the major problems faced by the meat industry in Romania, as most of the industries from us, is the acute lack of skilled personnel due to the abolition of vocational schools. A solution to this crisis can be offered by the educational system if the authorities are thinking of reopening vocational schools, believes Eugen  Capră, general manager of CARNEXPO, industry’s largest trade fair in Southeast Europe. 

Agriculture and food are two industries that, although similar, are quite different, especially from the labor force perspective. Agriculture needs staff, largely unqualified, while the food industry needs personnel with certain skills. The abolition, 10 years ago, of vocational schools, has led to a dramatic decrease in the number of skilled personnel in the market.

The modification of the education law, in 2011, which meant the re-establishment of these forms of education, failed to restore many of these schools in the food industry. Also, the migration of the workforce to the West European markets has created a shortage of personnel in many sectors.

“There is a huge need for specialists in this industry. For the past 30 years, no farmers have been trained, for example. We are simply disadvantaged because we have no education in the field. The vocational schools must be re-established urgently if we are to save anything. It is important that young people also want to specialize in this field, and here we have to work to change an outdated mentality. On the other hand, the economic agents must also show openness, be willing to accept students for internships. We already have some examples of processors that do this, which has given less advance to the labor market in this area ”, declared Eugen Capră, general manager, CARNEXPO.

Many producers complain that they cannot expand because they cannot find people to hire. Official data shows that 9.7 million Romanians are working or living abroad.

“Wages in the industry have increased. I have talked with producers who are willing to give 1,000 euros to skilled butchers, but even so, they don’t find specialized people. Many employees qualify for the job, and then leave the West for a salary of 2,000 euros, even if half of it is spent on rent and transportation. What our employers need to do is improve the way we communicate with people. Talk to them about the advantages and disadvantages of working away from home, so that everyone can make an informed decision. Our appeal is also addressed to the authorities, to whom we ask them to find solutions to motivate the Romanians to return to the country. We have the Polish model, which aims to reduce the income taxes for young people returning to work in the country. Another solution to cover the shortage of qualified personnel is technology. This automation is a normal trend after all. It may seem expensive in the first phase, but the investment will quickly prove profitable,” added Mr. Capră.

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