New wave of migration ahead

  • 2009-07-15
  • By Ashley Brettell
TALLINN - Estonia is showing signs of starting to lose a new battle with migration. After EU accession in 2005 many citizens moved out of the country 's and now a new wave has started.
In recent months, concerned business leaders have forecast that Estonia could lose some of its talent, particularly the young. Employment prospects for graduates are bleak and the government offers little incentive to employers to take on young people.
Economic difficulties have increased Estonians' interest in working and studying abroad, ERR News reported.

People are not only interested in European countries, but also in jobs in Australia and Canada.
Marta Traks, specialist at Eures, the Estonian Social Insurance Fund, said "the number of people seeking work in Europe had tripled and the type of person had changed as well."
"There are more, better educated people with good work experience and who speak several languages," Traks said

The Canadian embassy said that the number of people applying for work visas had recently increased. The Australian embassy said the same.
Kristel Kivinurm-Priisalm, Managing Partner of the Estonian-owned asset management company Avaron, recently said in an interview with TBT that "I have a genuine fear that Estonia will lose a substantial number of its educated young people." 

"There are very few opportunities now for emerging graduates and they could easily find employment outside of Estonia, even in the current financial climate. I would like to see the government give tax incentives to employers to employ young university graduates."
"If anyone has been unemployed for 6 months or more, again I would like to see incentives to employ such people," she said.

The government has invested much in its maternity benefits and kindergarten facilities in order to encourage people to start families and raise their children in Estonia. 
However, the economic downturn has lead to some people looking to leave the country to find a better life.  In addition, stories are circulating that unemployed Estonians abroad are not heading home, but are instead sticking it out in their new countries.

One of the reasons people are not returning to Estonia can be found in Norway, Postimees reported. 
Estonians and other East Europeans who have lost their jobs in Norway don't hurry home, since subsidies there allow people to live better than working here. 
Unemployment among Eastern Europeans who have gone to work in Norway has increased five fold in a year. The number of emigres who get subsidies has also grown rapidly.

The Norwegian press has covered the subject since the beginning of the year and some politicians think that the rules of subsiding Eastern Europeans should be harsher.
Currently Baltic workers can get unemployment benefits after working in Norway for 6 months. The average amount is 23,600 Estonian kroons (1,509 euros) a month, for up to two years.
The government recently closed its Ministry for Population and distributed its responsibilities elsewhere. The government defended its position as a cost cutting initiative.
On May 21, the Ministry of Population and Ethnic Affairs was dissolved after the Social Democrats left the coalition. Its tasks were divided between other ministries.

The Ministry of Social Affairs, The Ministry of Culture and the Regional Ministry undertook the main tasks of the former Ministry of Population and Ethnic Affairs.
The main focus of the former Ministry was population integration.  However the demographics pressures could soon become a major political and social issue. The next major data from Statistics Estonia is not due to be published until January 2010.