According to Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Urve Palo (SDE), the priority of the Estonian government is to train and help find work first and foremost for Estonian information and communications technology (ICT) sector workers.
During question time in the Riigikogu on Wednesday, the minister said that according to estimates, alogether 37,000 ICT specialists will be needed in Estonia by 2020, and if approximately 2,000 foreign specialists are brought in from outside of Estonia by that time, the foreign workforce will account for a relatively small portion of all ICT sector employees.
"In any case, it is for me, for the government, for the Estonian state a priority to help our own people to find jobs, educate them, train them, and we have very many various such training programs developed for that, both from the side of the Ministry of Education and Research as well as from the economic, ICT department of our ministry," Palo said in the Riigikogu.
Regardless of the fact that the state is training ICT specialists in various ways, there is still a shortage of IT sector top specialists in Estonia, the minister continued. The results of a survey carried out by the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications among its members indicated that Estonia is currently lacking 7,000 IT specialists and that by 2020, the shortage will already reach 8,600.
"It is not only Estonia that talks about the shortage of IT specialists, even though we are in a way known as an e-state and we have a lot of developing ICT companies, as well as new startups, which also require ICT specialists," she noted.
"This is a growing problem in the entire region, our neighboring countries, as well as Germany," Palo continued. "And it is very important that in this competition, we also stand out and be attractive, for the arrival of ICT specialists to Estonia from abroad as well. For this reason, salaries in this sector are significantly higher than the Estonian average. This means that if we are able to recruit ICT specialists, we will also receive more tax income, not to mention the fact that they will help develop, digitalize and automate the company, as a result of which the company's productivity will increase in turn, and as a result people's salaries, income, as well as the state treasury will as well."
Last month, Palo signed the terms of a support program for bringing 2,000 foreign information and communications technology (ICT) specialists to Estonia. The €4 million program is part of the Work in Estonia project, and its aim is to support Estonian employers with the additional expenses involved in the recruitment of foreign specialists necessary for them.
The terms for receiving foreign recruitment support is that the ICT sector employee must have been paying taxes in Estonia for at least five months. The aim is to cover expenses that employers must face to recruit new people, which is why the specialist receiving support must not have studied or worked in Estonia in the last three years.
The foreign recruitment support is part of the Work in Estonia project. Altogether €4 million over three years have been allocated for the support, and it will be financed from the assets of the ICT development program. The objective of the ICT development program is to solve various problems of the Estonian digital sector, including offering acclimatization services to foreign specialists, support the digitalization of industry and better use a data-driven approach in developing products and services.
Employers can begin applying for ICT specialist foreign recruitment support from Enterprise Estonia this month.
Editor: Aili Vahtla