Study: Foreigners very interested in working in Estonia

Arrivals gate at Tallinn Airport.
Arrivals gate at Tallinn Airport. Source: Enterprise Estonia

Foreigners are very interested in working in Estonia and attracting talent to Estonia is the easiest part of recruiting, a new study shows, but employers expect more help from the state during the process.

The study was carried out by the Center for Applied Social Sciences (CASS) of the University of Tartu on behalf of the Enterprise Estonia (EAS) program Work in Estonia.

"Estonia's reputation as a safe, low-bureaucracy and digitally developed country has reached far, behind which is consistent and successful international marketing work. At the same time, all countries compete for talent globally and the marketing of Estonia must definitely continue vigorously," said Anneli Aab, head of the Work in Estonia program at Enterprise Estonia.

Although the interviews revealed that companies believe that foreigners are very interested in working in Estonia and attracting talent to Estonia is rather easy, there are concerns related to societal attitudes in general and the availability of vital services such as family doctor services and education.

"Employers expect Work in Estonia to bring together various companies engaged in foreign recruitment and help mediate the interests and needs of employers to the national level. Both of these issues we also deal with, supporting the foreign recruitment of employers and the development of services is one of the priorities for the coming years," Aab said.

It appears from the study that problems for less experienced employers were related to the initial stages of recruitment, such as finding suitable staff and applying for residence and work permits and visas. Experienced foreign recruiters have either purchased the respective service or created a corresponding team and are primarily concerned with issues related to the acclimatization and retention of employees.

Employers expect greater digitization of foreign recruitment processes, for example, in the Police and Border Guard Board, but also in embassies when applying for visas, which was a concern namely in the context of the pandemic. Employers also expect the state to have a more flexible foreign recruitment policy, such as a simpler recruitment process for foreign workers recruited on short-term residence permits or short-term contracts.

The target group of the study was employers who had come in contact with Work in Estonia activities and services and/or had used the services in the last two years. The sample consisted of 16 companies, half of which had more experience in foreign recruitment and half of the companies had less experience in foreign recruitment. Data were collected through focus groups and individual interviews and analyzed using thematic analysis.

The aim of Enterprise Estonia's Work in Estonia program is to make Estonia an attractive place to work in for foreign talent and for Estonian companies to have a necessarily qualified workforce. To this end, companies operating in Estonia are supported in hiring and retaining foreign specialists, offering services from finding foreign talent to supporting the relocation and acclimatization of them and their companions and family.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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