German carmaker Volkswagen has launched a fresh initiative to attract more highly skilled staff. In its constant search for engineers, it\'s now focusing its recruitment campaign on crisis-stricken Spain and Portugal. The lack of skilled workers in Germany prompted automaker Volkswagen (VW) to lay on a special recruitment scheme for southern Europe, the company\'s Staff Management Executive, Horst Neumann, announced on Monday. \"For the time being, Volkswagen is concentrating its hiring initiative on college graduates from Spain and Portugal,\" Neumann said. He added a special two-year trainee program called \"StartUp Europe\" was already in place and that successful participants stood the chance of landing permanent jobs in the company. VW reported the offer was already drawing a massive response in southern Europe where unemployment levels have hit record highs of late, particularly among young people. Some 18,000 applicants have already replied to the 43 initial vacancies in the trainee program for would-be VW engineers. Ambitious targets Volkswagen reported participants would first be trained in subsidiaries in their home countries and would then spend a couple of months at VW facilities in Germany. VW\'s hunger for engineers has grown immeasurably, with the group taking over more brands in recent years, such as truck maker MAN, motorcycle producer Ducati and luxury carmaker Porsche. The firm now comprises of 12 different brands. Over the next couple of years, Volkswagen aims to sell 10 million units annually and topple rivals Toyota and General Motors who currently top the list of the world\'s top-selling automakers.