One of Serbia’s most successful companies, Požega-based Inmold, can boast of having its own dual education model, but also of having dedicated, professional and motivated workers who have decided to build their future in their home region, as well as top products that the company exports to markets worldwide. It is thanks to all of this that Inmold is already able to make ambitious plans for the years ahead
Our desire is to strengthen our work with students and increase the number of scholarship recipients from 10 to 20 or 25, as that will ensure that we have trained, highly-educated personnel in the future. That will no longer be only mechanical engineers, but rather we’ll also grant scholarships to engineering technologists, students of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Mechatronics – announces Inmold CEO Goran Janković in this CorD interview.
You are the unofficial instigator of dual education in the Zlatibor region, and perhaps Serbia as a whole. How did it come about that you created your own model for educating young people?
I realised already back at my former company, ATM from Sevojno, of which I was a co-owner, that we could only meet our need for an expert workforce by educating and training the required personnel.
The technical sector was devastated during the ‘90s, and the mechanical sciences were practically trampled to death, so I brought in four guys, my nephew and his friends, and worked with them while they were still attending secondary school, turning them into exactly what we needed. That didn’t come overnight and required plenty of patience and work. They happily came to practise, as I tried to make it interesting for them, for it not to be too demanding and thus discourage them. They were paid fairly for their work.
It was later easier at Inmold. We launched the training of secondary school students in 2010 and 2011, when there were absolutely no indications that the state would ever introduce dual education. There were no existing rules of any kind, so we looked at how to cover ourselves legally for that on our own. We reached agreement with the school and parents, through which they consented to their children coming to us for practical work experience. It was only after five or six years that President Vučić, who was then serving as prime minister, began talking about dual education.
And then the state learnt from you, from Inmold?
Precisely… When the state decided to introduce dual education, we were already considerably engaged in that, so we were visited by representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Education. Much of what they saw at our company was subsequently included in the legal regulations. It is also much simpler for us today. The majority of the children who come to us for practical work experience are from the state’s official dual education system, but some of the children come on the basis of the old system that we devised and created long ago, because not all of the occupation profiles that we require are covered by the formal dual education system. We endeavour to familiarise youngsters with what we do and to show them what they could do at our company. We visit primary schools and propose to children from the sixth and seventh grades that they opt to study mechanical engineering, because they’ll thus always be able to get a good job with us, while there are also numerous foreign companies that are coming and also seeking workers.
Was it that specific need for a greater number of workers in the area of mechanical engineering that imposed on you the need to open a training centre at the Technical School in Požega, which was recently announced by Prime Minister Brnabić?
There is a growing need for well-trained workers, which is also why a training centre equipped with modern CNC machines will be established at the Technical School. Through retraining or additional training, people will be able to acquire knowhow and skills that will enable them to secure a good job. The state will invest in renovating part of the Technical School and procuring machines, as they believe that the future regional centre will allow us to entice new investors and will ensure our people work in much better-paid jobs. While we await foreign investors, Inmold is already engaged massively in making and exporting robots to Germany, Norway, South Africa, the Russian Federation etc.
Those aren’t the only countries we export to, as we also do work for Canada, the whole of North Africa except Libya, Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia, and almost the entire Middle East, with the exceptions of the countries that are at war… We produce thin wall injection-moulded packaging, and it is essential for them to have special tools, in which we are specialists. Given that these are extremely fast cycles, in which the human hand cannot serve the machine, it is essential to have the robots that we make and export around the world. These are types of robots that automate production lines and replace many people.
There is a growing need for well-trained workers, which is also why a training centre equipped with modern CNC machines will be established at the Technical School in Požega
That is all made by our people, 99 per cent of whom started their careers at our company. The first working day in their lives was at Inmold, some during their schooling, some after leaving school, some after completing university, but one thing they all have in common is that we trained them. These are all people from the surrounding area, from Požega, Lučani, Arilje, Kosjerić, Užice etc.
Inmold isn’t the only company to have secure a better future for youngsters. There are more of them in Požega, but we are certainly proud of the facts that our employees have an average age of 34, that more than 50 of our employees have already bought an apartment, that our young people are getting married and building their futures in their home region. They will raise their children here, where their parents are, where they have roots.
Is the work Inmold is doing the best indicator of what Serbia is capable of doing?
That needs to be assessed and stated by someone else, and I will continue trying to ensure that we work to the best of our ability. Demonstrating that we do good things is our participation in major trade fairs around the world, at which we are regular exhibitors. Last October we were in Dusseldorf, where we are very highly rated in terms of both the number of visitors we receive and the number of colleagues who come to visit us and with whom we are in regular contact. This year we will be exhibiting in Friedrichshafen together with a very famous Austrian company. Our robots and tools will be mounted on their machines, which will operate and produce throughout the duration of the fair. Our competitors in Europe, of which there aren’t many, today respect us because they see that we are advancing, that we respect deadlines and that we insist on top quality. That’s the best indicator that we work well and have entered the first division.
This is an important year for Požega, given that construction of the highway is being completed. Will this make everything faster and easier?
That road has already reached Pakovraće, and from there it’s still a 20-minute drive on the regional road to our factory. Our overseas partners are today already able to reach us from Belgrade airport in an hour and a half, or a little longer, and that journey will be much more pleasant and easier when the highway passes just three kilometres from our company.
It is thanks to this that we can make ambitious plans. We have plants in Požega and Priboj, and around 520 employees, and I believe we’ll have more than 600 by the end of this year. When it comes to market expansion, our focus will be on Canada and entering South America, firstly Brazil and Argentina.
We registered ourselves last year as a research and development company, so our goal is to develop, improve and expand on that aspect with our existing people and new ones. Moreover, we will be the first company to have its own space at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. We will arrange it, renovate it and equip six workplaces with the latest technology. We already have two scholarship holders who will encourage their friends to start doing a little work for us and to be paid for that. The idea is to entice them to work for us afterwards. That’s both good for them and for us.