STA, 13 May 2019 - Employers have been pointing to their difficulties in finding qualified new employees for quite some time, but the situation has only been worsening to the point when it looks more dire than it was in 2008, before the economic crisis. Employers' organisations thus urge the authorities to take action by promoting economic migrations.
Employers have been hiring foreigners to alleviate the shortage, but the manpower pool of the former Yugoslav republics is depleting as well.
The organisations thus expect the government to speed up measures to tackle the issue and come up with a strategy for promoting economic migrations.
According to the Employment Service's data, in the past six months, almost 50% of employers were faced with the shortage, with the share standing at 70% among large companies.
The deficiency is most pronounced in the restaurant business (69%), construction (62%), social and health care (62%) and manufacturing (56%).
"Employers often encounter problems when trying to recruit employees for jobs which are paid less, physically demanding and/or come with demanding working schedules. There's also the issue of finding candidates for technical jobs requiring specific skills which are difficult to be obtained quickly by not (yet) trained and inexperienced people," said the service.
Increasing systemic discrepancies are present in the labour market, according to the service, with the number of available jobs growing, and the number of jobless decreasing.
As a result, the share of the unemployed with primary education or without it is increasing, same as the share of jobless people who are limited in finding employment and require active support.
On the other hand, the share of the unemployed disabled people is decreasing more slowly than the share of all unemployed people.
Employers are thus trying to fill in the gaps by adopting measures such as overtime or temporary increased workload, recruiting through temping agencies, encouraging the young to find jobs more quickly, discussing post-retirement work with older employees and attracting foreign employees, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) Samo Hribar Milič has told the STA.
The Slovenian Employers' Association (ZDS) secretary general Jože Smole also said that recruiting foreign employees was one of the key ways to tackle this issue.
According to the Employment Service, the number of work permits increased from 14,811 in 2015 to 18,049 in 2018. The numbers do not include single residence-work permits, with 1,180 of them being issued in 2015 and a significantly higher number of them in 2018 - 20,889.
In the first four months of this year, 9,693 foreigners obtained permits to reside and work in Slovenia. But getting such permits does not automatically denote receiving a work permit at the administrative unit in charge.
The majority of foreign recruits are from the former Yugoslav republics. Slovenia issued 16,596 work permits to citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina last year, 1,281 to citizens of Croatia, and 140 to citizens of Serbia.
The share of single residence-work permits was highest in case of migrant workers from Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Russia.
Employers criticise the length of procedures for hiring employees from third countries. Moreover, they have been waiting a year for the ratification of the treaty on employing Serbian citizens in Slovenia.
The protocol for implementing the treaty was signed in November last year, but the ratification has not taken place yet. However, employers caution that the manpower pool in the former Yugoslavia is being drained as well.
Hribar Milič thus called for ratification of treaties which would enable employing citizens of countries such as Ukraine and Belarus. He also urged the authorities to follow Germany's example and establish offices in charge of employing third-country nationals, for example in Sarajevo, Kiev or Skopje.
"The state already promised that, but has still not delivered on it," he pointed out.
The newspaper Delo recently reported that around a third of the foreigners getting work permits in Slovenia used that opportunity as a stepping stone for migrating to another EU country.
Commenting on this, Hribar Milič said that GZS member companies had been pointing that out, having invested in foreign recruitment only to be faced with recruits moving on to other EU countries.
He denied accusations of Slovenia importing workforce to the EU at dumping prices as Slovenian labour costs are lower, which makes workers from Slovenia cheaper. He said the accusations were based on individual cases, which should be sanctioned by law.
Smole said that given the amount of labour costs in Slovenia one could not speak about dumping.
He expects the government to step up action mitigating the manpower drain, reduce red tape and come up with an operational strategy for economic migrations.
On the other hand, the GZS is pleased about its collaboration with the Employment Service since the latter is developing personalised training and further courses for the unemployed in cooperation with the organisation. However, Hribar Milič concluded that there was room for improvement in that respect as well.
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