Recruitment consultant Hans Ulrich Gruber in dialogue: “There is a shortage of skilled workers and material in mechanical engineering”

Mechanical engineering is one of the showcase industries in the D-A-CH region. Norbert Maroldt, Managing Director of Vogel moulds and machines AG, spoke with HR consultant Hans Ulrich Gruber about current challenges in the industry.

More than one million people will be working in mechanical engineering in Germany in 2020, according to statistics published by the portal Statista. And the trend is rising: because the industry is still desperately looking for suitable skilled workers. “Our first challenge is to get skilled workers,” confirms Norbert Maroldt, managing director of Vogel moulds and machines AG, in an industry dialogue with personnel consultant Hans Ulrich Gruber. The medium-sized Swiss mechanical engineering company is a manufacturer of machines, equipment and moulds for the production of parts made of epoxy and silicone, as well as equipment for vacuum potting of components for the electrical industry, automotive industry and medical technology.

“The shortage of skilled workers mainly affects the development area,” reports the experienced managing director. It is difficult to find young people who will “bite the bullet” and stick with it over a longer period of time. In addition, the salary expectations of young qualified people are very high, especially in Switzerland. Vogel AG is therefore currently looking for suitable staff with the help of headhunters. The company, which is the world market leader in the premium segment, is based in Kaiseraugst near Basel. It is part of the HEDRICH Group and also manufactures in Germany.

Material procurement as the second major challenge

“The second major challenge is material procurement,” Maroldt reports. This does not only concern raw materials, as is so often assumed. Control and electronic parts are also hard to come by. The cause of the material shortage is still Corona and the disruption of supply chains, he says. “In Asia, the ports were and are temporarily closed, as are some companies. That’s why ships arrive late or not at all.” The Ukraine crisis has further exacerbated the situation, he said. “Prices have gone up further as a result,” says Maroldt.

Industry 4.0: “Data-driven work is a matter of course for us”.

With Industry 4.0, much has changed in the industry in recent years. Vogel moulds and machines AG is well prepared for this. For example, the use of data is a topic that the well-positioned mechanical engineering company has been using positively for itself and its customers for some time. “From raw materials to processes to production, we can document and track everything cleanly,” says the managing director. He adds that this is also important for his customers in the premium segment, who have to document everything.

“The data is collected by us and processed according to the customer’s needs.” Data is also made available and used for internal use and constant optimisation, he adds: For example, for the maintenance of the plants. This is a matter of course for his company. For other companies in the industry, the topic of data still poses a challenge.

Norbert Maroldt, general manager of Vogel moulds and machines AG (, spoke with HR consultant Hans Ulrich Gruber about current challenges in the industry.

Looking to the future remains positive

Despite all the current challenges, Norbert Maroldt is positive about the future. “You have to be flexible and adapt to new, also ecological conditions,” says the managing director. Therefore, he says, it is important to tackle new techniques with universities and institutes in order to be at the forefront of recyclable materials.

Hans Ulrich Gruber advises: “Seize opportunities now”

Personnel consultant Hans Ulrich Gruber also sees opportunities in the current situation both for those responsible in the companies and for candidates looking for a new challenge. “Mechanical engineering is one of the industries in Germany that is rich in tradition and nowadays works internationally. This also makes it crisis-proof and an attractive employer,” says Gruber. “With the experience of international management and the knowledge of the requirements in medium-sized mechanical engineering companies as well as corporate groups, we have been successfully placing specialists and managers for years.”