Friday, April 25, 2008

Romania skilled labour shortage 'highest worldwide'

Published: Friday 25 April 2008

Romanian businesses face the greatest difficulty worldwide in finding qualified personnel, reveals the latest study by Manpower Inc., a world leader in the employment services industry, Euractiv.ro reports.

Published on 22 April and entitled "Talent Shortage Survey 2008: Global results," the study compares the situation in 32 countries from the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

It finds that in Romania, as many as 73% of employers say they have difficulties in filling available positions, compared to 12% in the UK, 18% in Italy, 26% in Belgium, 31% in France, 34% in Germany, 47% in Greece and 49% in Poland. For other continents the figures range from 12% in India to 22% for the USA, or 28% for Mexico and 38% for South Africa.

Over 700 business representatives per country answered the survey, revealing the precise demands in each country for 10 categories of personnel. While in most Western countries the greatest demand is for skilled manual trades and technicians, for Romania the highest demand is for engineers.

One explanation for this is that following Romania's accession to the EU in January 2007, all the EU 15 countries - except for Finland and Sweden - decided to make use of a clause allowing 'transitional restrictions' to be placed on the free movement of workers from Romania for as many as seven years. However, most of these countries also introduced sector-specific exceptions, for example by allowing quotas or unrestricted access for highly-skilled labour.

The situation sparked a vast labour exodus to Western Europe, creating labour shortages in many sectors of Romania's economy and slowing the country's economic growth.

In order to tackle the crisis, the Romanian government is encouraging repatriation, while trying to attract workers from outside the EU to fill gaps in the labour market.

The effects of the Romanian authorities' effort to find a solution to the manpower shortage have been felt as far away as Pakistan, where the press has recently highlighted the job opportunities. Romanian firms have already been in contact with countries such as China, India, Pakistan and Kenya, and the first arrivals of foreign workers are expected in 2009.

Workers from the Third World countries will be paid some 200 dollars per month plus meal vouchers, which according to the Romanian press is ten times more than their income back home. Romanian employers will be covering transport and accommodation costs, the daily Ziarul Financiar and the TV channel Antena 3 reported.

Representatives of Romanian businesses said that bringing workers from neighbouring countries such as Moldova and Ukraine is no longer a solution. They also admitted they did not consider training unemployed Romanians to be a solution either, arguing that once they had learned a profession, they would leave the country to work abroad for a higher salary.

The average monthly salary in Romania of €400 still lags far behind Western Europe. But since the country's EU accession, Romanians are witnessing one of the biggest and most rapid salary increases in Eastern Europe. However two million of the 22 million Romanians already work abroad for much higher wages.

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