Ministry plans looser requirements for third-country guest workers

The Economics Ministry plans to ease access to Latvia's labor market by loosening requirements for some third-country nationals seeking employment here. It is hoped the plan would attract about 600 more employees to the country each year. However, it would fall short of solving Latvia's total labor shortage, which is in the tens of thousands, according to Economics Ministry representative Raimonds Aleksejenko. 

The planned cabinet ruling would see rules loosened for 303 professions, reported Latvian Radio on November 6.

Under current rules, companies are allowed to attract employees from third-countries only after vacancies are posted at the State Employment Agency's job register, meaning skilled Latvian and second-country nationals are to be preferred. They also have to be paid at least 1.5 times the median wage.

The plan would shorten the time the vacancies need to appear on the job register and lower the wage coefficient to 1.2 of the median wage. 

The ministry admits these rules will not solve Latvia's labor shortage in high-skilled professions.

"The government is working in three directions at once. The matter of the number of people in Latvia, and birth rates must be solved in the long term. Secondly there's the matter of re-training, of training current employees and teaching them. Thirdly, foreign specialists should be attracted where we lack them the most," said Raimonds Aleksejenko.

Areas where Latvia lacks specialists include science, engineering, healthcare, and IT.

Aleksejenko said that Latvia lacks tens of thousands of workers in several areas, including high-tech where Latvia has potential to produce products with high added value and compete internationally. 

The Economics Ministry thinks about 600 people could receive work permits under the laxer rules each year. 

According to the rules plan, in 2016 a total 1,736 work permits were issued to third-country nationals, up from 1,639 the year before. A total 6,007 third-country nationals had permission to work in Latvia, of whom many were employed in transportation, IT and consulting, and the food industry.

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Economy
Economy