A work group established in Estonia to prepare changes to regulations concerning migration was offered an overview of the population forecast, labor demand and activities related to integration on Monday.
"The meeting provided a good picture of the various aspects we must take into account when changing the immigration regulation," said work group chair Ruth Annus, head of the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department at the Ministry of the Interior. "The goal of the work group is to devise a unique solution for regulating immigration that is suitable for Estonia. The proposals that we will come up with by December can serve as the basis for finding long-term solutions."
Allan Puur, professor of population studies at Tallinn University, noted in his presentation on the population forecast that the aging of the workforce is a global trend in the 21st century, not a challenge for Estonia alone. This trend cannot be reversed, he noted, and one needs to adapt to it.
"We must pay greater attention to productivity and quality of labor," said Puur. In addition to taking measures to boost birth rates and favoring remigration, Estonia could react to the decline in workforce numbers with measures supporting a high quality of immigrants, he added.
Raul Eamets, professor of economics at the University of Tartu, expressed his support for the introduction of a points system along with the preservation of the immigration quota. According to Eamets, the government must adopt a significantly more proactive posture in the hunt for talent.
Piret Hartman, deputy secretary general for cultural diversity at the Ministry of Culture, offered an overview of this year's integration monitoring as well as various integration-related challenges and actions. She contended that Estonia is a diverse society. "This is a fact which has to be publicly acknowledged," she said.
The ministry official described it as important to begin integration-related activities with regard to the people arriving in Estonia from other countries immediately. "We should think together with entrepreneurs about how to integrate people who have just arrived here into society together and what activities and partners to involve to do it," she added.
The work group brings together experts from 19 organizations, plus population and migration experts. The work group must submit its proposals concerning changes to immigration regulations to the government no later than Dec. 1.
Editor: Aili Vahtla