Kingo: IT sector labor shortage can be solved with remote work from abroad ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kert Kingo (EKRE).
Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kert Kingo (EKRE). Source: Vikerraadio

According to Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kert Kingo (EKRE), Estonia's labor shortage in the IT sector doesn't necessarily require Estonia to bring in more workers, as she believes that work in the IT sector could be done remotely from other countries as well.

"When you mentioned that it's necessary to bring workers in from outside of Estonia for the IT sector, IT is a sector that everyone can do on site in their own country," Kingo said on Vikerraadio news program "Uudis+" on Monday. "There's no need to go to the destination country for that. We have adopted the direction in Estonia that we would have flexible employment. That you can do this work in a different country, that you can do this work remotely. This does not mean that it is clearly necessary to come here in person."

At the same time, she continued, if one is a top specialist, then their coming to work in Estonia would be acceptable and justified.

"It's another matter if we're talking about a real top specialist, whose duties are to help here in person, implement some kind of agreements and do programs," she said. "But in the IT field, I see no need to do work at a computer on site when it is possible to do it from anywhere in the world."

Postimees story 'not the absolute truth'

While on the show, Kingo also criticized an article published by daily Postimees on May 24 in which it was written that the Minister of Foreign Trade and IT intends to travel abroad as little as possible during her term, and that in those cases when she absolutely has to go, she will only speak in Estonian. ("I plan on traveling only in extreme cases, and if at all possible, I will delegate foreign visits to others," Kingo was quoted directly as saying.)

"The article published by Postimees is not the absolute truth, which has unfortunately been amplified further," Kingo said on Vikerraadio. "We know that often only part of the story is published, and this article is a perfect example of this being the case. I have always said that visits have to be justified. It is not justified before taxpayers to just go traveling and practice having a social life and communicating."

According to the EKRE minister, visits abroad are important, but they cannot be a goal unto themselves for a minister.

"The success of Estonia's foreign trade cannot be measured in the number of visits by a minister or kilometers flown," she said. "These [visits] have to be targeted, focused and well thought out. Because Estonia's market is small, we need export markets throughout the world, and that is what we are working toward. But we want to bring these opportunities to all entrepreneurs, not just the biggest ones."

Honorary consuls can help

Kingo highlighted that Estonia has a broad network of embassies with representatives from Enterprise Estonia that can be contacted for help.

"Estonian honorary consuls are also involved in foreign trade, and there are 200 of them in a total of 82 countries," she continued. "They can support Estonian entrepreneurs on a very practical level. I as minister want to help promote more effective cooperation between various parties and institutions."

According to Kingo, she will use an interpreter while on foreign visits in order to ensure that, in a field with such complex specifics, nothing is lost in translation.

"Our own President Lennart Meri always spoke in Estonian," she cited. "He only spoke in foreign languages with those he knew well, and who were his good friends. IT is a very specific field, and you cannot end up in situations where important details are lost or left out. And so speaking via an interpreter is the responsible thing to do."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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