STA, 6 November 2019 - The Labour Ministry is not planning in the short term to sign any new agreements on employing foreign workers, as there are enough recruitment opportunities in the country's neighbourhood for now. It also said on Wednesday it was keeping an eye on labour market dynamics prompted by warnings of a higher economic slowdown risk.
Responding to the recent media reports of Slovenia being interested in employing 2,000-5,000 Philippine workers, the ministry said the country was not preparing to enter into a bilateral agreement with the Philippines on issuing such work permits.
As for importing foreign workers, the ministry follows a migration strategy adopted this year which aims to curb the trend of Slovenian workers leaving the country, promote labour circulation and encourage Slovenians who have been away for a longer period to return home, State Secretary Tilen Božič told the press.
When looking for foreign workers, the ministry focusses on the areas which are geographically and culturally close to Slovenia. The country has so far signed two such treaties - with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, with another agreement being drawn up with Ukraine.
"Currently, the wider region provides enough opportunities," said Božič, highlighting that in any case negotiations to conclude such an agreement entailed a number of steps and usually took several years.
Asked whether businesses had been calling on the ministry to sign new work permit agreements, Božič said that businesses were more interested in a decree that would enable faster procedures to employ a foreign worker.
He also pointed out that out of some 900,000 working in Slovenia in August, almost 100,000 were foreigners, while in the same month in 2013, there were over 50,000 foreign workers out of 760,000 workers, adding that these figures indicated distinct shifts, including in Slovenia's economy and the labour market, which demanded swift adjustment tactics.
Slovenian media reported in late October that a delegation led by Economy Ministry State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti visited the Philippines to strengthen bilateral economic relations and met a Labour Ministry state secretary.
The delegation was accompanied by representatives of Slovenian businesses and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), who were the ones calling for importing Philippine workers, the Economy Ministry said last month, distancing itself from this possible strategy.
The ministry also added at the time that bilateral trade with the Philippines was modest; however, the Philippines' economic growth projections were opening up a huge potential for Slovenia, according to the MMC web portal of the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.
The GZS told the STA today that it was currently not considering any new work permit agreements and that the October meeting, which was attended by Slovenian Honorary Consul to the Philippines Srečko Debelak as well, was an isolated case among such organised events.
According to the chamber, Slovenia's industry is looking for workforce outside the EU in the Western Balkans countries and Ukraine, focussing in particular on skills from the occupation shortage list.
Businesses can employ foreign workers from countries with which Slovenia does not have such an agreement; however, employment procedures are more complex in this case, the Labour Ministry told the STA today.
Regardless of the agreement status, the key issue in these procedures is a lack of Slovenian language skills. The existent agreements with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia envisage pre-integration measures which tackle this issue and are funded by the EU, the ministry explained.