Unemployment Insurance Fund: Shortage of skilled workforce in Estonia

Construction workers on a building site.
Construction workers on a building site. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Results of the Unemployment Insurance Fund's fall occupational barometer show that there is no large labor surplus in any field in Estonia. Labor shortage was biggest among skilled workers.

Compared with the beginning of the crisis, there are significantly fewer jobs where there is a labor surplus, the Unemployment Insurance Fund said. Finding a job is more difficult in some sectors, however, due to there being a small surplus of workforce in them.

This primarily regards administrative jobs, which are gradually being taken over by technology. For example, for several years, demand for accountants, data entry clerks and administrative and executive secretaries has been lower.

Finding a job is also more difficult for graphic and multi media designers, according to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. While there was a great labor shortage in the field in 2016, over the past few years, a lot of people skilled in this area have entered the market. Opportunities to train in the field have greatly changed as well, with a large number of online courses becoming available.

Compared with the previous prognosis, a certain stabilization has occurred in the labor force market in the areas of accommodation, catering and hotel services. There is no longer a surplus of labor force in these fields.

Journalists now also find themselves in the labor surplus section, however. There are probably several reasons to this development, according to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Firstly, it is a popular field where competition is fierce. Secondly, the work of journalists has changed and, as a result, it is no longer just people with an education in journalism working in newsrooms.

Similarly to last year's survey, there is a large shortage of audiologists and speech therapists and software developers. There are people with IT background in Estonia but a large share of them are mid-level specialists, whereas there is a shortage of top specialists and people doing somewhat simpler IT works.

When it comes to the health care sector, a major labor shortage has been plaguing the field for years and the situation is not estimated to change any time soon, according to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Finding doctors as well as professionals and associate professionals in nursing is a continued problem, and there is also a large shortage of health care assistants. The shortages are caused by low salaries, unsuitable working hours and people retiring.

In the area of construction, there are shortages of house builders, spray painters and varnishers, building frame and related trades workers, concrete placers, concrete finishers and related workers, floor layers and tile setters. A large need has also emerged for welders and flame cutters.

A need for managers and sales and marketing managers has also emerged as a result of people's interest in entrepreneurship and business owners needing assistance in managing their enterprise.

As to low-skilled labor, there was a shortage of crop farm laborers, mobile farm and forestry plant operators, agricultural and industrial machinery mechanics and repairers and metal-workers. The shortage in these fields in caused by low popularity of the jobs, seasonal work, small salaries, non-standard working hours and many existing specialists in the field retiring.

The number of jobs where there is a large labor shortage has declined year after year. While the coronavirus made some changes in the labor market, there will be a labor shortage in several fields for the next year. This is also confirmed by statistics on registered unemployment. In fall 2021, unemployment has rather declined, whereas ordinarily, it tends to increase as winter draws nearer.

The prognosis for labor needs is compiled by employer consultants of the Unemployment Insurance Fund's county departments, external experts, such as county development centers, vocational and higher education establishments and employers, as well as job portals.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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