RIGA - The Latvian construction market is currently short of both unskilled and skilled workers; if the situation does not improve, construction companies will soon be unable to normally perform their work due to a shortage of workers, construction company Selva buve CEO Rolands Orlovskis said in an interview with business portal Nozare.lv.
“We all know one of the reasons for the shortage - people have left Latvia to work elsewhere and, unfortunately, they are not planning to come back. At the same time, state authorities do not pursue a common policy, or maybe they should even organize campaigns, to inform the emigrants about the current job opportunities in Latvia. Now skilled workers and engineers can earn competitive salaries in the construction sector - and at the same time be together with their families,” notes Orlovskis.
He sees this as not the only problem. The existing education system in Latvia is flawed, he says.
“The other problem is that educational institutions apparently are not doing enough to popularize such professions as carpentry, painting, electricians, and others. The reputation of vocational schools and trade schools is low. Stereotypically, young people who go to such schools are considered losers. The state education policy must be aimed at increasing the prestige of such professions. A good carpenter, electrician and mason are representatives of respectable and reputable professions,” says Orlovskis.
“In order to solve the problem, the government has to work on a plan for returning emigrants, explaining what opportunities they have in Latvia at the moment. Also, steps must be considered and taken to popularize and increase the prestige of vocational schools. Finally, it is obvious that regulations on guest workers must be eased,” he notes.
“We will have no choice but to open the doors wider to guest workers, because the problem of shortages will only grow worse. And when it happens, we will have to consider liberalizing the laws pertaining to workers from the so-called third countries,” believes Orlovskis.
Selva buve, founded in 2004, had turnover in 2011 of 10.2 million lats (14.6 million euros) and profit of 237,824 lats.
More support for repatriation
Jobs and homes in Latvia are what can make Latvian emigrants decide to return to Latvia, Liepaja Mayor Uldis Sesks (Liepaja Party) said in an interview with Rietumu Radio on Nov. 6, commenting on the Economy Ministry’s proposals fostering re-emigration. Sesks said that the Economy Ministry’s activities and the re-emigration measures were logical, adding, “better late than never.”
“This is a very important problem - we all know too well that many Latvian residents have left the country to work abroad. At the same time, many companies in Latvia are short of qualified staff.”
The Liepaja mayor said that in the past, university graduates were offered jobs as well as homes, mentioning Liepaja Regional Hospital as an example. In the past few years, the hospital hired dozens of young doctors as it also offered them a place to live.
Sesks believes that further public debate about the re-emigration measures offered by the Economy Ministry is needed.
The first ideas and proposals for a set of re-emigration measures, developed and collated by a task force established at Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts’ initiative, have been presented to the public.
The proposals supporting re-emigration, that the public is offered to debate, include making more information about the labor market available to the public or a mechanism so that employers could inform Latvians living abroad about what specialists are needed or what vacancies they offer, and with which Latvians living abroad could get in touch with Latvian employers.