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Business

A German Jobs Lottery

The internet might be global, but German car-maker Volkswagen has found a way to keep jobs local. Thirty-eight lucky net-surfers in Wolfsburg found how on Monday.

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New car - new workers

The last few years have seen a veritable slump in the car industry throughout Europe. Although not all car-makers have done badly, there have been major job-cuts, and production has either slowed down, or been moved to countries where labour costs are lower than at home.

Over the last seven years, the German car giant Volkswagen has itself created around 80,000 jobs worldwide. One of its biggest success stories being Volkswagen Bratislava, where production accounts for a substantial amount of the young Slovak Republic’s total annual export.

Bring it back home

But Volkswagen’s now looking to bring back to Germany not only its cars, but jobs too. Auto 5000, a Volkswagen division, has just completed the first job hand-out initiated over the web, recruiting 38 people in Wolfsburg on Monday.

The idea behind Auto 5000 is to produce top-quality cars at competitive prices. Which, for one, will mean keeping labour costs low, perhaps as low as in eastern and central European countries like Slovakia. The 3,500 jobs on offer will go to former jobless applicants, who need not have any previous experience. To begin with, a bit of talent will do.

A new car is to go into production and those selected to build it will receive from Volkwagen all the necessary training in a process of learning-by-doing. By the end of the process, employees will receive a recognised engineering qualification.

Jobs in Germany's jobless former east

AutoStadt

VW's Auto City in Wolfsburg

Over 70 percent of applicants so far have come from the Wolfsburg region, the home of the VW plant where successful entrants will be working. Others from Magdeburg and Braunschweig, which are all areas heavily hit by unemployment since the reunification of Germany. More can apply via the Auto 5000 website until April 2003.

Monday’s thirty-eight job-winners fought off competition from a total of 115 applicants and now start the second phase in their selection. The third phase is scheduled for June 10. But no matter how many get through, they’ll be the tip of the iceberg. Even if Volkswagen fills all 3,500 places, this innovative move will go only a short way to solving Germany's four million strong unemployment problem.

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