The Slovenia Times

Slovenia can still count on Balkans for labour

A worker at an electronics factory. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The national Employment Service has poured cold water on the notion promulgated by business that there is not enough labour available in Balkan countries to meet Slovenia's growing labour needs, but it suggested companies need to be more proactive in recruitment and offer better pay.

Over 22,000 work permits for foreigners were issued in the first half of this year, with the majority of the workers coming from Kosovo (7,000), Bosnia-Herzegovina (6,000) and Serbia (1,700), Employment Service director Metka Barbo Škerbinc said on 5 June.

There is still a lot of interest in countries from which Slovenia has traditionally imported workers, but it is true that there is a "battle for staff" all over Europe and that workers are more picky and have higher expectations, according to her.

The Employment Service is convinced that Slovenia needs to do a better job recruiting workers in their source countries, which the institution is already doing in collaboration with job agencies in the Balkans.

At a recent Slovenian job fair in North Macedonia, for example, there were 3,500 people. And with 140,000 workers there unemployed, there is significant potential for Slovenian firms.

There are also 350,000 people out of work in Bosnia-Herzegovina and around 400,000 in Serbia, according to her.

Barbo Škerbinc indicated Slovenian employers might have to offer workers from the region higher pay since work permit data shows over 90% of foreign workers are offered nothing more than minimum wage.

"I see an opportunity here for employers to attract staff with appropriate incentives - the higher the pay, the easier it will be for them to attract workers," she said.

Another way to address labour shortages is to employ the family members of migrant workers, in particular women. There are discussions under way to train these women to work in nursing homes, where the lack of staff is severe.

This would also be simpler bureaucratically since family members are already in the country and do not have to arrange residency permits, she said.

Slovenia's labour market is tight and only 46,178 people were registered as unemployed at the end of June, which is a decrease of 14.3% on the year before and the lowest figure since 1990.


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