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Robotization in Poland to develop, but qualified staff needed

Published: 28.12.2015

Robotization in Poland will develop, provided that companies will be able to obtain better financing, retain qualified staff in the country and that the unemployment rate will decline. Such are the conclusions of experts who participated in PAP debate on robotization.

The interest in robots is increasing, but the awareness concerning their use remains insufficient, according to Mariusz Olszewski, professor at the Warsaw University of Technology.

“Looking at the results of many reports, we can note a low awareness of the use of robots – which increase the quality, reduce production costs and improve work safety. But these facts are noticed only by those who are already using robots at work,” Olszewski said.

The main obstacle in the development of robotization in Poland is not the training of experts, but rather a long time of recouping the cost of investment in machines, he believes.

“The amortization time for robots in Germany is 9-12 months, because German workers' wages are 4x higher, while in Poland, the amortization time is 36-40 months,” industrial robots producer FANUC Polska CEO Jedrzej Kowalczyk added.

Robots do not take away people's jobs

In Poland, many believe robots are taking away people's jobs, while the reality is completely different, research institute IBnGR expert Bohdan Wyznikiewicz noted.

“Robots are concentrated in some, particular industries. They do not take away jobs – because of them people have more work. This cannot be observed from the perspective of an enterprise, but using robots means a need to employ people elsewhere, e.g. at the universities,” Wyznikiewicz said.

In the opinion of Polish entrepreneurship development agency PARP head Bozena Lublinska-Kasprzak, robotization is developing at a faster rate in the countries where labor costs are significantly above the cost of robots work.

“In Poland, labor costs are among the lowest in Europe, while the cost of robot work is some USD 8 per hour. Polish companies still find employing [human] workers profitable. For many years, we were tackling double-digit unemployment. While talking to employers, I noticed they had concerns, they did not introduce robots because of the social perception,” Lublinska-Kasprzak said.

While Polish companies invest little in innovation, more and more money is becoming available for the implementation of innovative solutions which should positively influence the development of robotization, in her opinion.

“Companies are finding it ever easier to obtain such financing, whether from the EU, or on the commercial market,” she stressed.

But some disagree with this point of view and point to the lack of trained experts rather than to money shortages as the main obstacle.

Automotive industry is the biggest global recipient of robots as it buys nearly 40% of machines. Electrical and electronic equipment industry ranks second, purchasing one-fifth of robots, followed by machines, rubber and plastics as well as foods industries.

Source: International Federation of Robotics

www.ibngr.pl/Aktualnosci/Aktualnosci/Wplyw-robotyzacji-na-konkurencyjnosc-polskich-przedsiebiorstw

“In order to launch 7 robots I needed 12 months to train my employees,” machine components maker Adamus HT CEO Henryk Adamus says. He points to the need to attract more people to technology universities and the related costs. Qualified staff left Poland long ago, while those who stayed are not fully up to date, in Adamus' opinion.

“Countries which outdistance Poland in terms of robotization do not have more money for this purpose, but rather better-qualified experts,” he says. He estimates the shortage of trained labor force in the segment at 10-20k.

Companies' awareness of robots' potential low

Another barrier is the low awareness of the robot utilization potential among Polish entrepreneurs, employers' lobby BCC expert Krzysztof Szubert adds.

“The reasons are the same as in the case of people not using the internet – they see no reason to use it. Not until they are made aware of it, taught the skills. We need to make a strategic switch to production, because the majority of Polish firms are trading companies. This is a strategic decision of the state: whether we want to move in the direction chosen by South Korea, Japan or China – towards production,” he said.

From the point of view of the industry, it is the key that students acquire as much practical knowledge as possible, because universities have for a long time “educated experts in nothing”. Another reason for the low number of experts is the belief that vocational education is inferior which is why it is not very popular, according to Szubert.

But Emilia Maciejewska from the Education Ministry begs to differ.

“Occupational schools have been becoming increasingly popular. This year, over 55% of graduates of Poland's middle schools chose occupational schools, especially technical high schools,” she pointed out. Vocational and technical schools train mid-level staff in such professions as e.g. mechatronics fitters at 3-year vocational schools or mechatronics technicians at 4-year technical high schools.

Employers seek future employees at schools

Ever more often, employers hunt down prospective employees yet at schools and thus students can find employment immediately after graduation, Maciejewska said.

“Employers strike deals with students already during their internships to employ them after the graduation from technical high school, as confirmed by these schools' headmasters,” she said. 

Training experts already on the level of vocational and technical schools helps students during their future studies as they already have the basic skills and do not have to learn everything from scratch, RoboTrendy enterprise CEO Sylwester Kominek adds. At the same time, however, the cooperation between universities and businesses leaves ample room for improvement.

“In Poland, the cooperation between universities and the industry is not that great. In Germany, some universities cooperate with about 200 enterprises, something that rather cannot be achieved in Poland. But students are shaped in an actual working environment. That is why they should get to know it already at schools or during studies,” Kominek says.

In Europe, there are 85 robots on average per 10k human employees. In Poland, it is only 22. Germany is among the European leaders by robotization with 292 robots per 10k employees.

Source - Polish Press Agency, Economic Service 

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Published by: Justyna Kania
Author: Public Relations Office
Last change: 28.12.2015
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