The Slovenia Times

Employers warn of biggest labour market imbalances since 2008


Ljubljana - Amid a prospering situation in the labour market and favourable unemployment trends, employers have been recording the largest structural imbalances between the registered jobless and companies' needs since the 2008 financial crisis. Businesses highlight that the paperwork to hire foreign workers takes too long.

There have been fewer than 70,000 registered as jobless in August, according to data by the Employment Service. However, the latest survey among employers found that some 37% were faced with a shortage of appropriate candidates to fill their job vacancies.

Such issues were most often encountered in healthcare and social care (53%), construction (48%) and manufacturing (45%). Most sought-after candidates include, among others, heavy lorry drivers, simple task workers in manufacturing, construction workers, retail staff, cleaners and servants.

Commenting on the peak structural imbalances in the labour market, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) told the STA that an increase in economic activity had led to fewer new registered unemployed persons and more people being hired. This situation results in an increase in the share of the hard-to-employ.

Structural unemployment and labour shortages are getting worse, the Labour Ministry told the STA, adding that the current structure of the registered jobless called for a thorough breakdown of the statistics and efforts to tackle the issues that prevent people from getting a job.

One of the key reasons for labour shortages is demographic changes, the ministry said, noting that there would have to be more focus on the elderly in the future as they will represent a much more important segment in the labour market.

Responding to labour shortage challenges, companies are investing more in production automation and business process optimisation, said the GZS. However, in labour-intensive industries, such as the hospitality sector, these problems are much harder to solve.

Foreign workers are another solution for some companies, most of them coming from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, according to GZS data.

But procedures regarding foreign labour paperwork take too long due to lengthy waiting times, especially in Ljubljana and Maribor administrative units, the chamber said, noting that other countries had already been taking action to allow companies to hire foreign workers in a matter of few days.

Slovenia has signed bilateral employment agreements with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia to facilitate hiring workers from these countries, but since workers from former Yugoslav countries are harder and harder to find, companies urge the authorities to sign such agreements with Thailand, Ukraine and Russia as well.

"These potential workers come from similar environments culture-wise and have an instilled work ethic," the GZS said.

However, Slovenia has no such bilateral agreements with third countries in place or planned at the moment, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the Employment Service said employers had at their disposal comprehensive support in finding trained staff and other services.

The ministry has also announced additional measures to tackle imbalances in the labour market, such as promoting life-long learning, stepping up training programmes, tweaking employment policy and providing career specific or in-demand career scholarships.


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