The Czech defence and security industry is concerned about lack of qualified employees
The Czech Republic is missing qualified employees, and the defence and security industry is no exception; it has to do with lack of technically educated persons, says President of Defence and Security Industry Association (Czech abbr.: DSIA) Jiří Hynek.
What are the main aims of DSIA and how does it really work?
JH: DSIA associates companies, which are active in the field of research, development, production, commerce and marketing with the defence and security equipment, material and services. This description is included in our Articles. You can find among our members both classic armouries and producers of aviation engineering, enterprises of engineering, textile or chemical industries, companies engaged in information technologies and cybernetic protection, universities or trading companies. All our members are jointed together by customers, i.e. armed units both in the Czech Republic and abroad. The defence industry is one of the key pillars of the defence capability of our country. That’s why DSIA is an important partner of Ministries of Defence, Internal Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Industry and Trade. We have signed a cooperation agreement with these ministries. We are in close contact with the Parliament of the Czech Republic, in particular with the Defence and Security Committee of the House of Deputies.
DSIA is also the fundamental contact for similar foreign institutions and associations. In addition, we help both to Czech producers in searching suitable foreign partners and companies from all around the world in searching suitable partners in the Czech Republic for cooperation. We participate in the Czech pro-export policy and promote export interests of our members. On specialized domestic and abroad trade fairs, we help the exhibited members to ensure drawing a corresponding state assistance, with administration, publicity and promotion. Our support of research and development activities is very important, where we assist in cooperation of companies both in the Czech Republic and abroad. It includes ensuring of the exchange of information on tenders, public procurements, quotations and inquiries between governmental institutions all around the world and the domestic industry. It is a lot of work, which we try do to satisfy all our members.
What is the structure of the Czech defence and security industry?
JH: Over 90 % of our production is exported to abroad markets. We have an extensive defence industry and very small army. That’s way a lot of our products go abroad. But own army is our significant partner. Domestic reference is key not for the volume of procurement but for export. Producers, the product of which isn’t bought by the Army of the Czech Republic, have just minimum chances to gain orders abroad. Hardly any country in the world has a so big share in export, which demonstrates a high competitive rate of Czech companies. Almost a third of our export is directed to the EU countries, while Middle East and Asia each account for one fifth share of the export.
Military vehicles and aviation engineering are ranked among the main branches of the Czech defence industry. Among other branches there are ammunition and energy materials, electronic equipment, hand-carried weapons and manufacturing equipment and half-finished products. The big advantage of the Czech defence and security industry is versatility of its branches. You can find here products from the field of aviation engineering, command systems and its equipment, communication and radar systems, armoured and other vehicles, weapons, ammunition, fire control systems, engineer, chemical and medical equipment, equipment for security services and others. Our companies provide services of development, training, reparation and trade. This versatility, which is unique with regard to the size of the Czech Republic, is given by historical traditions of the Czech defence industry.
What are the main present-day challenges for the defence and security industry?
JH: First of all, it is lack of qualified employees. The present-day employees grow older; and interest of the young people is low. The specificity of our branch is a high share of research and development; in addition, high level of specialization is required. We need educated and skilled people, first of all in technical professions. Poverty of qualified employees bothers the Czech Republic in general, and defence and security industry, unfortunately, is no exception.
A rather fundamental problem for the defence and security industry is regulatory tendencies of the European Union. The best-know medial cases are endeavours to prohibit the use of lead for the ammunition or to promote limitation of possession of legal weapons. But there is a lot of other instructions and directives, which in their consequences urge the investors to transfer the military production beyond the European Union. Nowadays, we are harmed the most by transit licences, for which we - being a country without an own sea port - have to request from the neighbour countries. I estimate that our export is losing a quarter of potential contracts. Other actual thing to be solved is too wide definition of military material and material of dual using. And for a number of years, we have been unsuccessfully speaking with the state about senseless licensing samples for abroad trade fairs and tenders. There are really many issues to be solved.
And what is the Czech defence and security industry best-known round the world?
JH: The Czech defence and security industry experiences a lot of success round the world. I would like to mention, for example, success of ELDIS from Pardubice on the Indian market, where it will soon cover almost 90 % of the Indian airspace with its radars. The Czech armoury recently announced its intention to build a new factory for manufacturing and mounting weapons in American Arkansas, thanks to which they will be allowed to compete for orders for the American armed units. But the best-known all over the world are passive monitoring systems of ERA from Pardubice. Let’s hope that, for example, the L39NG aircraft from Aero Vodochody will soon continue its success. To be known also with other products, we have to invest much in research and development. I’ve had a possibility to familiarize myself with a project rising in cooperation of a group of Czech producers and the laser centre in Dolní Březany. If the state supports financially this project, I am sure that the resulting product will celebrate our country round the world.