KALE Recruitment is a specialized agency focused on technical recruitment. Their expertize expands across various sectors, including energy, engineering, construction, manufacturing and IT, with strong emphasis on renewable energy.
Workforce is often highlighted as one of the main challenges faced by the energy sector in Poland - how would you describe the current talent pool?
The unemployment rate in Poland has been decreasing year by year, unsurprising given the country’s growing economy and the substantial number of new businesses that have made their way here.
As a whole the market is short of 3-4 million employees. This is evident in renewables as well, maybe even more so, because companies need a type of skill that is not yet widely available in the market.
And it is particularly difficult at this point in time when the market is booming and numerous employers compete for the same, limited talent pool.
What are you and companies in the energy sector doing to overcome this shortage of workers?
One reaction we are noticing from companies is to boost their collaboration with universities (often times it is more difficult to find candidates for entry level positions than CEOs). This is a good avenue to secure talent early on, by guaranteeing a job as soon as they leave school.
Recruiting people from other countries is becoming a common practice, and I believe Poland will become extremely diverse in the coming years.
It is worth mentioning though that we are noticing a shift in mentality, people are not as willing to relocate for a job as they used to. For us as a recruitment agency, the strategy is to keep candidates close and nurture long term relationships. If they plan a new step in their career we want to be their first option.
Countries such as Romania are putting emphasis on professional reconversion - for instance training former miners to work in renewables. Have you witnessed similar initiatives in Poland?
No doubt people will have to learn new skills to keep up with changing industries and technologies. For instance, there is great need for technicians in the photovoltaics sector which is prospering at the moment. Unfortunately not much is done in terms of training, I cannot point to major initiatives in this sense.
Candidates’ expectations are continuously changing, however, wages seem to remain a crucial factor in their decision. How do salaries in Poland compare to other countries in the region?
They have become very competitive actually. Candidates understand their value and do not shy away from asking higher wages.
An employee in Poland nowadays will earn the same or even more than someone in Italy, Spain or Greece. Keep in mind that living costs here are lower, and the quality of life keeps improving.
Do you notice a difference between private and public companies in terms of their ability to attract and retain talent?
In terms of salaries the differences are not notable and public sector employers tend to offer very good benefits. There is, however, a difference in culture in the sense that public companies have a more formal approach, and a more conventional hierarchy.
You are no longer making your services available to companies that deal with conventional energy. What triggered this move?
It was simply a decision we made based on ethics. We want to see the world heading towards sustainability, and the contribution we can bring is by helping out businesses and industries that have the same vision.
What can you tell us about your international ambitions? Do you have your eyes set on new markets?
We have operations in Spain and Columbia already and plan to strengthen our presence there. But we are eyeing new markets as well, for instance Greece is experiencing an interesting boom in renewables. We hope the situation in Romania will also improve soon because we see it as a good option for the future.
Do you already have a sense of how the COVID-19 outbreak will be impacting your business/ the energy sector in the short term?
We do not see a change in project demand, to be honest we have more seen and increase in interest to secure the right candidates for large scale projects.
Of course in the long term anything can happen as we live in a world that is connected. If production has a slow down and logistics due to limitations in transport grow, then if will hit energy in the end or will provoke a slow down in the projects. What we see now is more that the companies are pushing forward, demand for talent is big, but candidates fear change in uncertain times and sometimes they reject hearing about new offers. These are the minority of course.
What first measures did your organization set in place to manage the crisis?
We told everyone to work from home, as we care about the safety of our employees worldwide. We made sure all of them have the means and conditions to work from home effectively. We have tried home office with many of our employees before, and it has turned our very positively. We see the fruits of this now, as the effectivity of our employees has actually increased.
We are also making sure we have the means to evaluate candidates better as for now face to face interviews are out of the questions for both us and our clients. So more online psychometric tests and tools, more videoconferences with candidates, being in touch with them constantly so that they can feel there is a strong management and engagement from our consultancy of the recruitment process. Now you have to try more to put the human component into everything.
What is incredible that due to this situation people tend to open more about their feelings, fears, willingness to participate in the community and help the ones that are in a really bad situation due to lack of resources. What has been challenging is creating a sense of team and community in our organization, so we try to have virtual lunches by ZOOM and video calls every day to sum up what we have learned during a particular day or week from our work.
Other thoughts you would like to share regarding this topic?
I think even when the pandemic will end, more people will stay working from home, and companies will have try harder to provide them with different kinds of benefits, like the ones mentioned above, as the values are shifting. The brand new company car will be replaced by ensuring mental and physical health.
This crisis will make us rely more on online tools to evaluate employees not only that. Due to the fact many will have to work from home, a situation not everyone adjusts to well, companies are now enabling free psychotherapy, coaching and medication apps to their employees to ensure their motivation and mental health is as good as it can possibly be considering the situation.
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