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Slovenian Economy Needs More Engineers, Says CEO (interview)

Ljubljana, 07 December (STA) - In order to achieve a development breakthrough, Slovenia needs more engineers, Matjaz Lukac, the boss of laser maker Fotona and head of the Slovenian Engineering Academy, has said in an interview with the STA.

"There is a general lack of engineers, who are willing to create something new and working in corporate R&D...We have to rekindle interest [in engineering] and the joy of making something new," he says.

Lukac says it is difficult to say where the lack of engineers is the most acute since hiring is slow, but there is a clear shortage, in particular if Slovenia is benchmarked with other countries in the ratio of engineers in companies and academia.

Asked what needs to be done in order to increase the number of engineers, Lukac says his analysis shows that "we have to slowly, systematically build and work. We have to improve the capacity of companies to develop, while at the same time increase the number of engineers."

"There's no need for anything revolutionary, we only have to work hard and work in the right direction," he adds.

More broadly, he says it is necessary to create a new system of values to shift away from the notion of get-rich-quick, "to show that life which is creative is a value...that wealth is not everything."

While refraining from suggesting that more foreign engineers should be hired, Lukac says that Slovenia is an interesting destination for foreigners.

"Every time we hire [a foreign engineer] in Fotona I ask what's wrong with them, why they came. And they say that life in Slovenia is pleasant, more humane, and that Slovenia is a beautiful country. We won't get foreign experts with high wages but with quality of life."

However, in order to attract more foreigners Slovenia will have to work on promotion. "We need to raise awareness about Slovenia if we are to attract foreign intellectuals. But this will largely be accomplished by companies that are well known enough to make people want to work for them."

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