Finance ministry analysis: more non-ethnic Estonian civil servants needed

The so-called
The so-called "Superministry" building in Central Tallinn, which hosts the finance ministry among others. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Ministry of Finance analysis finds that more people of "other nationalities" should be recruited into the civil service in Estonia.

The ministry says that younger people in particular should be enticed into the state and public sector, since they have a better command of the Estonian language, it is claimed.

In practice, those working in the civil service at present who are of nationalities other than Estonian, close to 11 percent of the total workforce, are predominantly native speakers of Russian, with Ukrainians, Belarusians and Finns also making up significant contingents, according to ERR.

The analysis, carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, found that there were over 5,000 applications, one in five of which failed.

The ministry recommends paying more attention to recruiting non-ethnic Estonians to state, public sector and local authority agencies, as a result, as well as alleviating labor shortages.

"First, in a situation where labor shortages are increasingly affecting the civil service, it would be a boost to be able to recruit good civil servants. Second, this would promote equal opportunities in Estonian society, which is key for the sustainable development of that society. Third, it would help alleviate employment situation," the analysis found.

The analysis kept in mind equal opportunities concerns both for potential civil servants and for decision making on areas which affect those target groups, noting that among younger, non-Estonians, knowledge of the language was better.

Sixty-seven percent of people under 24 were "active" in the Estonian language, with only 3 percent in that age group unable to speak the language at all, the analysis found. The figure for those with an active command of Estonia fell to around 50 percent of those up to 34, around 33 percent in the 35-49 age group, and less than 25 percent among those aged 50 and over, the analysis said.

At the same time, civil servants from non-ethnic Estonian backgrounds tended to be higher among longer-serving, and therefore older, civil servants, sometimes with careers predating Estonian independence – just over 35 percent of non-ethnic Estonian civil servants had been civil servants for over 15 years.

Measures to actually attract younger people from non-ethnic Estonian backgrounds included media promotion and work placements.

The sector with the highest proportion, over 15 percent, of non-Estonian employees was the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), the Rescue Board (Päästeamet), the Tax and Customs Board (MTA) and the prison service, the analysis found.

One area where there is less diversity is in leadership, however, where the figure was just over 4 percent for non-ethnic Estonians. Middle-level professionals, including inspectors, senior specialists, consultants etc, saw just over 10 percent participation from these other nationalities, or just under 4 percent of the civil service as a whole.

The analysis was prepared on the basis of the Government's Action Program (Tegevusprogramm) aimed at improving non-ethinc Estnian participation in the public sector, under the auspices of Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Centre), who approved the analysis and forwarded it to the government office, as well as the culture ministry and the minister of population affairs.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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