BERLIN -- BMW and Porsche are predicting record sales for their cars this year, but are vying to find enough engineers to make them.
An aging work force and declining enrollment in technical studies caused the shortfall of available engineers in Germany to rise to an all-time high of about 77,000 last month, according to the VDI German engineering association.
BMW aims to hire 800 people at its factory in Leipzig, as part of a 400 million-euro ($577 million) expansion for the production of the i3 electric minicar and the i8 electric supercar.
Porsche is recruiting more than 1,000 workers for its plant about 17km away, where it plans to add the new Cajun compact SUV.
"Until about two years ago we had hardly heard of companies in the region struggling to find skilled staff," Leipzig Mayor Burkhard Jung said in an interview. "But the scarcity of engineers appears to have become an issue now."
The shortage may threaten the competitiveness of BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen and Daimler as they expand and boost development of electric vehicles.
A third of Germany's large companies now consider a shortage of skilled workers as a business risk, according to an Aug. 15 survey of more than 500 companies by the DIHK chamber of industry and commerce. "It's a very serious problem that could hold up research and development of new cars," said Willi Fuchs, director of the VDI association.
Demand for new talent will only grow as BMW, VW's Audi, and Daimler's Mercedes-Benz vie for the No. 1 position in the luxury-car segment.
BMW, the current leader, aims to increase deliveries to 2 million vehicles by 2020 from 1.6 million this year. Audi and Mercedes both aim to challenge their Munich-based rival for the top spot in the coming years as they target record 2011 sales and expand capacity.