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Opinion: Rail Baltica’s construction will require foreign labour force

Photo: railbaltica.org.
To prevent deficit of labour force during the construction of Rail Baltica’s infrastructure, Baltic States should be prepared to attract labour force from foreign countries, said Latvian Building Contractors Partnership manager Baiba Fromane at Rail Baltica Global Forum in Tallinn on Wednesday, 11 April.

She continued: «At the same time, the challenging situation with labour force allows organizers to use the latest technologies to automate construction processes.»

During a panel discussions regarding labour force-related challenges, Fromane mentioned that «lack of labour force in construction sector is not unique to Latvia or Baltic States in general – this kind of challenge is present in construction sectors around the world. Workers become older and retire. Youngsters, on the other hand, have no motivation to join the industry. To solve this problem in a long-term perspective, reforms in education and better social guarantees are needed.»

She also added that Latvia has come close to its natural unemployment level. This means the country lacks a large labour force resource. «We are talking about maybe a couple of thousand potential workers we may be able to attract and train to work in construction sector. This, however, would not resolve the problem of insufficient labour force for Rail Baltica or the industry,» said Fromane.

To resolve the problem, it is necessary to ensure internal solutions within the country and close coordination with Baltic States. She said one way to help out with labour force attraction for Rail Baltica is easing work permit issue procedure.

The panel discussion also addressed the matter regarding construction costs, which may increase in the coming years. Participants of the discussion agreed that it is necessary to change the comprehensive thinking approach and prevent the dominance of low prices in procurements.


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