Employers want immigration made easier (1)

Just as needed: Employees of a supermarket in Tallinn (Jaanus Lensment/Postimees)
3/4/2016 11:02 AM
Category: News

The Employers’ Confederation insisted at their annual conference that immigration of labor to Estonia needed to be made easier. Not only were specialists needed, but people ready to do less challenging work as well

The Estonian population is shrinking as well as ageing, and the country’s economy couldn’t do without immigrants anymore, the employers made very clear. At the 2016 Kite Fly conference on Tuesday, chairman of the Estonian Employers’ Confederation Toomas Tamsar said that immigration shouldn’t just be seen in the context of the current refugee crisis (ERR News reported on Mar. 2).

As a rule, the need for foreign labor is explained with a perceived lack of qualified professionals in Estonia. This topic came up at the conference as well, where the employers stressed the importance of being able to persuade the right kind of specialists to come to Estonia.

But Estonia also needed other workers. “Less challenging jobs need doing as well. Pensioners, directors and other specialists won’t feed us in the year 2040,” said Priit Sarapuu, CEO of security company G4S.

“Today regulations are too strict, and Estonia leaves the impression that we could choose who we want to get for our labor market, but in reality we’ll need to find workers abroad for every other job,” Sarapuu said.

Madis Kase, CEO of property maintenance company ISS Eesti, said that they were lacking workers as well. Already today, 18 nationalities worked at the company. Kase said that taking on foreign workers, companies had to do a better job in terms of administration and management, otherwise there wouldn’t be results. Another thing he pointed out was that in their more diverse staff, absenteeism was lower.

“I think that a lot of this is connected to the fact that people with an international background simply want to work more,” Kase said.

Raul Eamets, economics professor at the University of Tartu, said that from an economic point of view, importing labor had both its good and bad sides. “With the arrival of new labor, internal demand grows, as they’re consumers as well. At the same time, the range of products and services widens. We’ve all been to a Chinese restaurant and had Turkish kebab,” Eamets said.

The diversification of the labor market would also increase its flexibility, Eamets went on to say. This was the case because immigrants were often ready to work at conditions below what was expected by local employees.

As there were both positive and negative effects, the result of labor immigration depended a lot on one’s point of view, whether it was seen from the perspective of an employer or an employee, Eamets said.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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