Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic highlights YFAI opening as unemployment falls below 10%

Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic highlights YFAI opening as unemployment falls below 10%

Serbia's President says his country is doing "its best" to keep young people working at home rather than emigrating and points to the opening of Yanfeng Automotive Interiors' (YFAI) new plant in Kragujevac as an example of how manufacturing is helping to drive unemployment down.

YFAI cut the ribbon on its first part last week (28 November) in the Kragujevac plant, around 100 miles south of Belgrade and against the backdrop of a Central and Eastern European automotive sector, which continues to boom.

"Speaking about brain drain, that's the biggest concern of myself, of our government no doubt," Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic told just-auto at the Kragujevac inauguration. "We are doing our best of course to keep our people here, which is not easy. [Given] The process of globalisation and still having many richer countries within the European continent.

"As you can see we were subsidising, incentivising, almost all the companies coming from abroad to employ as many as it was possible people here in our country and I can vouch myself for the fact for the first time Serbia reached a level of less than 10% of unemployment rate.

"Now we have to work on more quality. Speaking about the quality of jobs, we need to bring more R&D centres, we need to bring newest technologies, we need to start taking care of artificial intelligence, robotics and everything else that will bring us to another and higher level.

"But we are profoundly grateful to all investors."

Although a 10% unemployment rate in Serbia may seem high by some standards, it is nonetheless a vast improvement on the soaring levels of almost 25% of the population which were jobless in recent years. The establishment of high-tech companies such as Yanfeng will go some way to alleviate the issue.

The Chinese-owned supplier has already taken on 180 people at the Kragujevac site and will gradually increase that number to 250 by mid-2020, with the intention to employ up to 800 skilled workers from the region by 2023. Currently YFAI is looking for operators and staff for the tool maintenance department as as well as Human Resources support.

"It [YFAI opening] is a very important day for Kragujevac and Serbia," added Vucic. "For the first time since we have measured unemployment, Serbia has reached 9.5%, the lowest level ever. We could help our country and rescue it from the crisis, even though we had 24% unemployment.

"There is a lot that needs to be done in Kragujevac still. We are starting to work on the road [s] to connect Kragujevac [with other cities and the airport]. Kragujevac will be a centre of Serbia [linking] to the South West as well as to the North West. Kragujevac will be at the heart of our country.

"I would like to ask our young people to stay in our country because the sun of the foreign sky will never warm you as much as your own, as the poet said. I would like to congratulate the [YFAI] workers and I am sure you will be able to ensure the safety and future of your families. Long live Serbia."

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more