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Much remains unclear about attraction of highly-qualified labour force from abroad

The Cabinet of Ministers Committee has decided to continue discussions about Economy Ministry’s plan for attracting highly qualified labour force from abroad. It was mentioned at the meeting that it is necessary to look for solutions for attracting low qualified labour force as well.

The committee studied Economy Ministry’s list of professions that are predicted to experience a lack of labour force in Latvia in the near future.

In total, the ministry’s list includes 303 professions in fields like science, physics, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, ICT, processing industry, electrical technologies, construction, financial analysis, fishing vessel piloting, airship piloting and maintenance personnel, as well as specialized medicine.

During the meeting, Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens said that the ministry’s prepared set of rules is an important document that will help resolve the problem of labour force availability in fields that lack qualified workers.

Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnačs, whose ministry had previously objected the aforementioned rules, agreed that Latvia needs highly qualified labour force. Still, he said he wants to know the threshold of the list of professions to know where the so-called highly qualified professions begin.

He also said there are countries from which labour force should not be attracted. This matter will be discussed and decided on by the coalition.

Rasnačs also proposed discussing the causes behind Latvian residents’ decision to leave and work in foreign countries, such as Estonia. He mentioned an example when a minister employed a person as a driver, who would travel to work in Pernava all the way from Aluksne.

Ašeradens explains that Latvia’s biggest challenge at the moment is relatively low average wage, which may reach EUR 1,000 in the period of time between March and May next year. The minister also said that economies of Lithuania and Estonia are generally more productive. In addition, average wages are also much higher in Estonia. This is why Latvians choose to leave their country in favour of earning more money in the neighbouring country.

At the same time, the economy minister added that the government has created a serious offer to improve the economic situation with the tax reform. This offer will help raise productivity and competitiveness of Latvia’s economy.

A proposal was also voiced during the meeting to include professions like drivers and food production industry employees. Transport Minister Uldis Augulis admits that the decision-making process for the situation with attraction of labour force in transport sector should not be postponed.

Agriculture Minister Jānis Dūklavs said that food production company Orkla is still waiting on making a decision as to which country to invest in EUR 11 million. «Why hasn’t the decision been made yet? They are waiting for our decision. They have to know – will there be workers or not? Estonia has already made its decision, and we know for a fact the food production sector is on the list. We don’t have time to think because investors will simply move on to other countries,» said Dūklavs.

Economy Ministry’s state deputy state secretary Raimonds Aleksejenko said that Orkla’s much-needed workers have been included in the ministry’s prepared list. Aleksejenko explains that the question regarding low-qualified workers should be resolved separately. On top of that, it requires a political agreement.

The justice minister proposed evaluating the matter regarding labour force attraction from abroad in a long-term perspective, not short-term. «If we attract cheap labour force, wages in Latvia will not grow as quickly, and it will not motivate Latvians working in living abroad to return to their home country,» said Rasnačs.

Data from the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs shows that 1,736 residence permits were issued to third country nationals for employment in 2016. A total of 1,639 permits were issued in 2015.


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