Rain Leoma: What might Ukrainians study in Estonian vocational schools?

Rain Leoma.
Rain Leoma. Source: Õpetajate Leht

It is still too early to say in what way the arrival of refugees from the war in Ukraine will affect the Estonian labor market in the long run, writes analyst at OSKA professional association Rain Leoma.

It depends on three refugees: The general impact of Russian aggression on the economy; the number and skills of the refugees; and how many Ukrainians will opt to stay in Estonia after the war ends, Leoma continues in a piece which originally appeared in educational portal Õpetajate Leht (link in Estonian).

OSKA's labor demand forecasts have been prepared in the so-called medium-term perspective, in the perspective of 7–10 years, and currently the arrival of Ukrainian refugees has not changed our forecasts. The areas where the need for additional labor is most needed in the next decade are ICT, health, social work, various industries, and education (especially science teachers). 

However, it must be taken into account that work with a higher level of proficiency generally also requires a high level of proficiency in the Estonian language. 

Labor demand forecasts by OSKA have been prepared in respect of the medium-term perspective, so to speak – the perspective of seven to 10 years – and as of now the arrival of Ukrainian refugees has not altered our forecasts.

Those areas where additional labor is most needed over the next decade are: ICT, health, social work, various industries, and education (particularly science teachers).

However, it must surely also be taken into account that working to a higher proficiency level generally also requires a high proficiency level in the Estonian language.

At the level of vocational education, additional manpower is needed in the field of social work. According to the forecast, the number of people employed there will increase by almost 20 percent by 2030, the need for additional maintenance workers is the most.

A recent OSKA survey found that social work employers take a primarily positive attitude towards involving foreign labor, while at the same time stressing the need to be able to communicate well with the elderly and those with special needs, in the latter's mother tongue.

Proficiency in Estonian is also a requirement of the standards of social workers' professional body.

On top of this, there is a shortage of graduates in vocational education who could fill work vacancies in manufacturing. Too little is studied in relation to electricity and energy, electronics and automation, and mechanics and metalwork. More printing tech, multimedia and woodworking specialists are also needed in the labor market.

At the same time, graduates in construction specialties are also needed; buildings technical systems, the construction of buildings and road construction could all be studied.

On specialty which might not be recommended for Ukrainians is as a seamstress or tailor. While such work is quite easy to find in Estonia, the wage level is rather low and in the long run, these jobs will move out of Estonia. In working as a seamstress, there is a fairly high risk of future poverty or job loss.

One higher level education option for Ukrainians who want to link their (work-) life in the long term in Estonia is studying ICT. This specialty also appears in vocational level teaching, and the working language is often English, in addition to Estonian.

For those going back to Ukraine it might be viable to continue work for Estonian firms, via remote working. Forecasts say that over 18,000 ICT specialists, or around 2,600 new employees per year, will be needed in the field by 2027. With ICT skills, it is possible to find a job anywhere.

The OSKA website in English is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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