The Plastics Industry in Bosnia records a Continuous Growth

 Photo: S. Omerbašić/UNDP

Tableware, decorative figurines, furniture, toys, car parts – all of these can be made from plastic. However, the final product can be made only by the best experts that know state-of-art plastic parts production methods and technologies and installation and who possess state-of-art machinery, materials and other resources. Around thirty persons attended an injection moulding training in Tešanj and acquired the necessary know-how for the production of plastic products, which are increasingly in demand both in the domestic and foreign market.

The plastic injection moulding training is part of the project ”Improvement of Competitiveness of Business Companies in the Project Area by Providing and Improving the Quality of Business Development Services”, implemented by the Development Agency of Tešanj Municipality with the support of the Municipal Environmental and Economic Governance Project (MEG), which is supported and financed by the Swiss Government and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNDP BiH).

Every person who attends 200 hours of training and passes the necessary tests will have an employment opportunity, says the Head of the Tešanj Development Agency (TRA), Ismar Alagić.

”This is a great opportunity for the plastics industry to become an important factor of the economic development in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, says Alagić and adds that the continuous growth of companies from Tešanj requires a new and qualified labour force that is not available on the market. The Tešanj Development Agency (TRA) therefore decided to provide support to plastics processing companies. The Agency signed a cooperation agreement with the company Koala Paintings, which provided machines and equipment.

Sophisticated machinery is not a guarantee for quality, say the representatives of the company Koala Paintings, a partner in the training process.

”It is not sufficient to only press a button on a machine, an operator has to possess vast knowledge and be acquainted with procedures and parameters”, explains Almin Dubravac, the director of the company Koala Paintings. ”Well-trained and knowledgeable employees are therefore crucial for further growth of companies in the plastics industry”, adds Almin and underlines that admirable results are already being achieved in Tešanj, Gračanica and Tuzla.

Plastic products from Tešanj are exported on a daily basis to Germany, the Czech Republic and Turkey.

The plastics industry has been continuously growing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the changing plastic processing technology makes new investments in employees necessary.

Training as a way to obtain a job  

Injection moulding experts for plastics, Nihad Čulov and Dženan Okanović, have trained the training participants in all production steps – from the preparation of material, production of tools, over monitoring of the whole process, to understanding technical documentation and technological processes.

”We wanted the participants to become acquainted with all technological functions in the production process – tampon printing, varnishing and assembly. Participants learn much more than to simply operate injection moulding machines”, says Alagić and adds that participants from Goražde, Gračanica and Tešanj will obtain vast knowledge and be able to use more than 100 different machines.

In addition to acquiring new knowledge, the most talented ones will also obtain a job. At the moment, the company Koala Paintings can employ even more than 30 employees, and the starting salary amounts to 600 KM.

”The monthly income may amount to 1200 KM or more, and we continuously invest in personnel, trainings and equipment”, explain representatives of the management of the company Koala Paintings. They are particularly proud of their female trainees. One of them is Melisa Okanović from Gračanica.

”The training helped me organise my work, we learned the phases or the basic steps of plastics injection moulding”, says Okanović

”This is an opportunity to acquire additional knowledge, since we are self-taught”, says Almedina Mulahuseinović, who works at the production control department at the company Plastika Steal, while explaining her motivation for additional education. ”I have to identify all irregularities, the product must be 100% error-free”, says she.

Vocational education and training does not prepare the students for the private sector  

The cooperation between local authorities and the company Koala Painting from Tešanj aims at ensuring the continuation of this sector’s development, creation of new jobs and the overall progress of the municipality. ”Entrepreneurs stated their need for the training of new labour”, explains the Head of the Tešanj Development Agency.

Over the past years, the plastics processing industry has boomed. The resources are becoming limited, and plastics can be widely used. During the lack of protection equipment for medical personnel in the midst of the pandemic Covid-19, injection moulding was crucial for a fast production of protective visors. There is no industrial branch or area of life in which there is no plastic. Of course, it is important to know that this material can largely be recycled.

Continuous development of companies, new markets and new products require new employees, and vocational schools do not provide adequate labour.

Representatives of the Tešanj Development Agency believe that the education systems are obsolete: ”There are no experts that can establish a proper HR infrastructure, there are no machines that students can train on, and high-quality manuals are also lacking.”

For this reason, there is no time to wait for the competent authorities to remember this sector and provide for an educational programme for plastics processing at a secondary vocational school.

”We would like schools to participate, so that students can attend practical training at companies, but the process of adaptation is very slow. Adapting the education sector to the needs of the market is a priority”, say representatives of the Tešanj Development Agency.

One of the contributions to vocational education following this training was also the development of a plastics injection moulding manual that comprises fundamental know-how, materials and tools.

MEG project, as one of the key initiatives of the Swiss Government that contributes to economic developments, supports the key industries in their further development and promotion.  

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