Globalisation is a key factor for massive changes on the world-wide labour markets. Often manual jobs with low-skill requirements and sometimes even entire facilities are moved to low-cost countries. This phenomenon, which begun to manifest itself prominently in the late 1980s, has changed the European industry remarkably.
In 2004, the French tyre company Michelin closed a large part of its manufacturing plant in the western German town of Trier and moved it overseas. The factory had produced special cords for the body of tyres, but the location in Germany became apparently too expensive. Out of 285 employees only 90 were able to keep their jobs.
Hans-Jürgen Karthäuser, who had worked for Michelin for a long time, was among the unfortunate who lost their position. He could have settled with unemployment benefits, but instead he decided to look for an alternative.
Experience in shift work helped find a new job
At the beginning of his professional career, Hans-Jürgen – a trained merchant – wasn’t at all fond of the production sector. He first worked for some time as driving instructor with the German army Bundeswehr and spent the following 10 years behind the steering wheel of a truck. But eventually he wanted to have more time with his family and started a career with Michelin.
After losing his job with the tyre manufacturer, Hans-Jürgen immediately contacted the German EURES partner Bundesagentur für Arbeit in Trier. His employment agent had a close look at Hans-Jürgen’s skills and professional experience, and soon was able to find for him a job opportunity with Euro-Composites in neighbouring Luxembourg, with whom he’s now been for two years. From the small town of Echternach, the company manufactures the lightweight products that are used for instance in airplanes or ICE high-speed trains. “In addition to my manual skills, I got this job due to my 10 years of experience with shift work“, says Hans-Jürgen in retrospect.
Working in Luxembourg
Working in Luxemburg suits Hans-Jürgen. “It is much more relaxed here than in Germany, almost intimate,” he says. “Also the relationship with our managers is rather cordial”. According to Hans-Jürgen, this may be due to a different mentality of the people, but also to the fact that companies in Luxemburg feel less economic pressure. “Social welfare contributions and thus the companies’ expenses are much lower here than in Germany,” he says.
Euro-Composites employs around 600 workers and wants to expand significantly within the coming years. This is reflected by regular new vacancies featured on the company’s homepage www.euro-composites.com. Good working conditions, friendly relations with colleagues and supervisors, as well as opportunities for advanced training, have convinced Hans-Jürgen that he has found his new professional home – and it’s just across the border.