29.6% more performance was provided by construction output in 2017 compared to the previous year. According to the data of the Central Statistics Office, the volume of building construction increased by 28.9%, while other constructions increased by 45.3% last year. Although the numbers are promising and the EU-based developments are continuing to develop, as well as new housing constructions, but the lack of labor in the sector is a serious concern for businesses as there is hardly any skilled workforce. Among others, the solution of this problem is the task for the newly formed South-West Hungarian Construction Cluster, which was founded with 15 members in March 2018, with the help of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Pécs-Baranya.
After the inaugural meeting the Cluster started working, the members are committed to promote the construction industry as a career choice, to make it attractive to students. With the help of events, modern, spectacular tools, machines, and with the development of a scholarship system and a career model, children can be motivated
Regarding the cluster’s aim and why cooperation has been implemented now, we asked Gábor Molnár, the managing director of IMG Építő Ltd., the elected president of the South-West Hungarian Construction Cluster.
The previous negotiations between the companies and the Chamber began in October 2017. The main goals of developing the Cluster are to enable the members to demonstrate competitive, high-quality services that can flexibly adapt to changing market demands and to reduce costs in materials, energy, and service procurement and to make more efficient use of resources. Last but not least, the members can jointly present both national and international scene with a professional, joint marketing image. It is also very important that the members cooperate with each other, summing up their resources and using them jointly to take up really big projects. It is planned that the Cluster will help members in partner search, professional innovation, exchange of experience and knowledge.
What are the major challenges today for construction companies in Southern Transdanubia? Are there any problems, tasks that specifically affect construction?
The main challenges nowadays appear not only in our region but also at national level. Companies have to respond swiftly to the sudden increase in the number of investments, and shortly make the technical preparatory work and fair quotations. On the other hand, it is difficult to satisfy the sudden increase in demand for construction with the currently available machine fleet. There is a need for technological development to create vital capital. It is a challenge for the construction industry that customers want high-quality in short period of time. Everyone knows that there is a shortage of staff in the sector – a large proportion of the skilled workforce emigrated and available workers would need regular self-education and further training for technological developments that is how the high standard can be ensured. The problem of labor supply is the same challenge: few people choose construction jobs as their profession, so it is necessary to create contact with educational institutions and encourage young people to learn and choose this as a career.
Why did you choose the Cluster form as a response to the challenges? What are the benefits of clustering?
There are some good examples of clusters that have been working fine in the country for many years, and because of their success we considered the cluster as a good choice. The cluster is created in the form of an easy-to-operate framework contract, it is not over-regulated and can respond flexibly to needs.
What kind of organizations intends the Cluster to co-operate with, what support does it need from the Chamber?
In addition to the Chamber, we plan to cooperate with other clusters, educational institutions and career guidance organizations in the future, but we are also open to other relationships.
What are your duties as President?
My primary task is to keep the members together, to guide the professional co-operation, to perform the marketing tasks, and to coordinate the work of the management members.
Csaba Magyari, Managing Director of MB Bau Ltd. helps the Cluster’s work as vice president. We asked him why he joined the Cluster, what advantages and support he hoped for:
-Looking at the current state of the construction industry nationwide, I believe that, together, we can meet the increasing market demands. It is also easier to overcome obstacles if we help each other in a strong community, whether it is about workforce capacity, professional experience, or market information. We are hoping that if there will be bigger investments in the southern region of the country, we will have more chances to win as a Cluster.
How do members of the Cluster support each other and how do you assist them as a vice president?
Our mandate is for one year, and for that time we have a lot of work to do. We set our goals and formulated our plans for the future, of course we agreed with the whole cluster community and accepted it together. The tasks were allocated by the members of the Bureau to the one who could best meet the needs of the cluster.
What are your goals as vice president?
My task with István Schrempf, my colleague, to organize a construction roadshow in Pécs, where we intend to present the construction life to the young people who are choosing this as their career. We would like to show a professional way to see how to create something which is unperishable, how much recognition a good workman can get, and that with endurance and fairness how far can we get. To sum up, to give a vision about working in this field, regardless if you are a gardener, mason, carpenter or machine operator.
Csaba Nemes, CEO of Kőház Ltd., also vice-president of the South west Hungarian Construction Cluster.
-I have a good relationship with the manager of several construction companies in Pécs and from the surroundings. We often discuss the current concerns of the construction industry and help each other if someone needs it. We talked several times about ways to strengthen relationships and to cooperate more intensely. Thanks to the contribution of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Pécs-Baranya, with the establishment of the Cluster a planable, transparent and prosperous cooperation can develop between these construction companies in Pécs – said as an answer to our question: which are the benefits of cluster cooperation.
-In the forthcoming period, cluster members will develop the strategy of how we can help each other and bridge the existing difficulties with cooperation. For example: in case of vocational training, procurement, capacity optimization, professional competencies, and possible major work as a consortium.
What are your duties as vice president?
In our discussions so far, I often said that currently the biggest problem in the construction industry is the lack of workforce and the lack of training. As a result, members started to deal with this topic.
István Schrempf, Managing Director of HVS-BAU Ltd. was also elected vice president. Regarding why he joined the Cluster, what benefits and support does he get from this collaboration, he gave the following answers:
This is an organization with members of similar interest. Achieving common goals, enforcing interests becomes easier and more effective with the Cluster members’ collaboration.
How do members of the Cluster support each other and how do you assist them as a vice president?
The exchange of viewpoints and experiences on regular basis is in the interests of all members, and each of us benefits from it. Our vice-president status is on a definite time. Our task is to develop concrete objectives at the meetings and to present it to the Cluster members.
How do the vice presidents split the work among each other, which area is yours?
The members of the Board of Directors allocate tasks among themselves in meetings, each of us respond to an area closer to themselves. As vice president, we aim to represent the interests of cluster members, to solve the current tasks of the construction industry and to establish a well-functioning joint cooperation.
The role of the Pécs-Baranya Chamber of Commerce and Industry is to run and support the cluster. About the tasks Sarolta Biró, project manager was asked.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Pécs-Baranya is the legal entity behind the Cluster, it is the Cluster’s operational management body. It undertook the task to provide management for the start-up cluster. In practice it means that we support the work of the presidency, organize the meetings and make the follow-up of the decisions but all administrative tasks should also be listed here.
What are the benefits of clustering based on the experience of the previously developed, successful clusters that operate today? what can you adopt from these good examples?
Several clusters have been formed in the Chamber over the past few years, one of the best examples is the South West Hungarian Engineering Cluster (SWHEC), which operates since 2011, with 29 members, 90 billion HUF net revenue and 4,000 employees. The cluster members, by their cooperation, not only establish a relationship of trust between one another, but they can also expand their expertise through changing experiences. Their joint interests are more effective, they can become more powerful on the market and together they can be more cost-effective. They work together to achieve common goals, for example, in the development of vocational training or business development. During the past 7 years, SWHEC has been well established and successful, it is a good example for the South West Hungarian Construction Cluster.
Source: Dél-Dunántúli Gazdaság