A Most Delicate Question (34)

6/14/2011 9:25 AM
Category: Opinion

Estonia is either going to participate in the world economy or it is not. So far, it seems to be still on the fence, hoping the labor problem will somehow go away or solve itself. Or praying that a call for talented youngsters to come home might pay off. 

But a gaping hole in the side of a ship can’t be patched with duct tape. At least not for long.

One estimate claims Estonia will need 6,000 IT workers over the next three years. Where will they come from?

As Jaan Männik, chairman of the Bank of Estonia, pointed out to Postimees’s Priit Pullerits in a recent interview, immigrants move from countries with low purchasing power to countries where there are jobs. The 6,000 IT workers Estonia imports, if it imports them at all, will not likely be young professionals from Sweden. They will come from the East.

"We could easily end up in a situation where Estonians are the minority [in Harjumaa]…” said Männik. “…it could happen that in local elections the Estonian people will forever lose control over who governs Tallinn."

My first thought is a scary one: that the Tallinn city government could become even less western in its composure and way of doing things.

I may be tarred and feathered for saying so, but I don't have a problem being governed by native Russian-speakers. My concern is: Do those who govern me possess a similar system of values? My fear – I hope unjustified – is that the Tallinn city government could come to even more resemble the neo-feudalistic bardak of Russia. 

But that is indeed unjustified if the workers we'd import share European values. Who would not welcome 6,000 highly-educated IT workers and their families? Young men and women who share democratic values and wish to live and work in a society that rewards them for their talent, rather than in a state which takes it away when they become too successful. 

If Estonia does choose to participate in the world economy, I hope it starts soon. Because new workers become new citizens, and anyone in the corporate world can tell you that finding a good employee takes time. Not to mention 6,000 of them.


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