The state wants to increase the proportion of workers of other nationalities in the public sector to fill empty vacancies, but how and under what conditions remains unclear.
Last year, a quarter of vacancies in the public sector went unfilled, and to recruit for these jobs Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Centre) is suggesting the state look to non-native Estonian speakers to fill the gaps.
Speaking to ERR, Aab said: "The non-Estonian population still has a slightly higher unemployment rate, and there is a shortage of labor in the public sector. On the one hand, while we are cutting jobs in the public sector, existing jobs are often not filled, and last year, for example, a quarter of public competitions failed because there were no suitable people for public jobs."
An analysis published last month by the Ministry of Finance showed only 10.8 percent of people of other nationalities work in the civil service. But at the same time, a quarter of public competitions to recruit new workers last year failed.
Aab said vacancies should be filled with more members of the non-Estonian speaking population, such as Russian-speakers, Finns and Ukrainians and he hopes to cooperate with local governments and ministries. Adding special language courses are planned to help people.
He said: "In power structures, in the field of internal security, the percentage of non-native speakers is higher than in other jobs. And they can do it. So at least we can try to take away fears and misconceptions."
Looking at other parties, thus far, when it comes to language and the workplace, Isamaa has advocated a stricter language policy. The last party council also made a political statement on the protection of the Estonian language in higher education.
Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa), however, does not see any threat to the language being introduced into the labor market by a more linguistically diverse community. Lukas said both would be treated equally if a native speaker and a non-native speaker applied for the same job.
"People of other nationalities are not going to be favored on the labor market, and I am against quotas. Certainly, you can go to schools, encourage educated people who have a good command of the Estonian language to look a little broader, but with power we will definitely not change nationalities."
Aab said increasing the proportion of non-Estonian-speaking workers in the public sector was included on the government's agenda during coalition negotiations this spring.
Editor: Aili Vahtla