The Language Inspectorate is testing the Estonian language skills of police officers in Ida-Viru County and finds the situation has improved compared to five years ago, which has been aided by a new generation entering the workforce.
The Language Inspectorate has been testing the language skills of police officers in Estonia's most eastern county since 1999. Checks were subsequently carried out in 2005, 2010, 2012, 2014 and now in 2019-2020.
Chief inspector from the Language Inspectorate Merle Loodus-Adamson told ERR that at the start of the inspections, about 70 percent of officers had been ordered to acquire the Estonian language.
These are, Loodus-Adamson said, police officers who have been issued precepts and are now being enforced.
"There are no police officers in Ida-Viru County who do not speak Estonian at all, but there are those who still need time to reach the required C1 level," the inspector said.
Elsewhere in Estonia, the Police and Border Guard staff (PPA) do not have problems with speaking Estonian, and Loodus-Adamson said the younger generation have good knowledge the language.
The inspector said the language skills of doctors, teachers and other professionals have also improved as a new generation entered the labor market.
The Ida-Viru Central Hospital still has a large number of non-compliant medical staff. Loodus-Adamson said these workers are predominantly Soviet-educated workers whose language skills are steadily improving.
"The language skills of the older generation of teachers have improved, but at a slower rate than expected. There are over a thousand educators in Ida-Viru County who do not meet the language requirements. There are no major problems with new doctors and teachers," said Loodus-Adamson.
She said there were also some complaints about the lack of language skills among family doctors, dentists and nurses in other areas, mainly in Tallinn.
Lack of language skills is a problem for the Inspectorate among temporary workers and foreign service staff. Those who do not speak Estonian work tend to work in the service industry.
Editor: Helen Wright