Country's Workforce Running Out of Unskilled Laborers, Too - Ministry ({{commentsTotal}})

To this point, the shortage of skilled specialists has often been mentioned, but the situation with unskilled laborers is growing more critical, says the Economic Affairs Ministry.

"We're talking about qualified workforce, but we have to start thinking about where to get cheap labor. This accounts for the majority of our workforce demand," Ahti Kuningas, the secretary general of the ministry, told Postimees.

Kuningas said future demand would be in professions such as assistants, cleaners, supermarket cashiers and construction crews, as these are the fields where the most people will retire in coming years.

Statistics Estonia estimated last year that the demographic workforce pressure index has dropped to 0.76, which means that in the next 10 years, there are three younger incoming workers for every four retirees.

Currently, unskilled labor can be imported from non-EU countries for half a year at the average wage for the profession. Kuningas said it would be necessary to analyze whether people could be brought in for less than the average for seasonal work.

But the minister, Juhan Parts, said he was more in favor of "exporting" Estonian companies.

"We think it is reasonable for Estonian companies to expand and grow outside Estonia, leaving their headquarters, dividends and higher-compensated jobs in Estonia," he told Postimees.

Parts said the tourism sector would be one exception where labor could be imported.