Commerce chamber: Immigration quota exacerbating Estonia's labor shortages

The PPA'a office in Mustamäe in Tallinn.
The PPA'a office in Mustamäe in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonia's immigration quota does not help alleviate this labor shortage, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said, and is calling on the government to do more to help.

The Ministry of the Interior has set the immigration quota for 2022 at 1,311 people, which is the maximum number that the Aliens Act allows.

Mait Palts, director general of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said more foreigners should be excluded from the immigration quota.

"There are different options, but one solution could be to exclude from the quota foreigners who are paid 1.5 times the Estonian average salary, who work for a reliable employer or who come to work in a position where there is a great shortage of labor in Estonia -- for example, engineers," he said in a statement.

Currently, it is difficult for many businesses to find workers with the right skills, experience and knowledge in Estonia. Palts said the problem is very serious.

"Companies need employees, are prepared to hire them right away, pay a competitive salary, ensure training and, if necessary, assume additional responsibility, but they cannot do this, because no such opportunity is provided," he said.

"Therefore, a lot of different side roads are sought -- seasonal workers, visa-based employment or temporary workers. These are legal, but they are nevertheless temporary in a situation where more stable and longer-term solutions are needed, which are often more favorable also to employees, and provide the state with higher tax revenues," he added.

Similar to this year, the Ministry of the Interior plans to reserve some permits for creative workers, athletes, coaches and others. However, more than 20 were unused last year.

As the demand for workers is significantly higher than the immigration quota planned for next year, the chamber does not know why these spaces exist for cultural works rather than engineers, for example.

"The artificial restriction of residence permits has also created a situation where the state would have received an additional several hundred thousand euros a year in labor taxes if all residence permits under the quota had been used," Palts said.

At the moment, the number of unused residence permits in the same fields is 29, but the limit for residence permits issued for work was reached before the round was opened, and according to Palts, a similar situation awaits this year.

The immigration quota includes temporary residence permits issued to third-country nationals for employment, business, on the basis of an international agreement or overriding public interest.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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