Looming Latvian labor gap comes under scrutiny

Investigative journalism outfit the Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism, Re:Baltica, has released the second feature in its ongoing series about the demographic challenges facing Latvia.

Titled Past experiences dampen Latvia’s appetite to patch looming labour gap it looks at looming labor shortages and the knock-on effect that could have on the payment of pensions.

"In 2021, there will be a surplus of about 10,000 professionals in humanities and social sciences. At the same time, maths and engineering will face a shortage of 16,000 workers. Also, about 30,000 people with vocational education will be needed on top of the ones graduating that year," the report says.

"Latvia will need at least 35,000 extra workers by 2022. The number may be small on a global scale, but for Latvia, this is similar to a medium-sized city."

However, memories of the Soviet Union when Latvia was flooded by state-ordered incomers to work in industry mean that bringing in labor from third countries remains a sensitive subject, even given Latvians' own enthusiasm for moving to work in richer countries.

"Latvia has very few sources of additional workers. If the expats don’t return, locals cannot be forced to retrain, and it is already too late to hope for more births, what is left is immigration," says Re:Baltica.

Though politicians recignize the urgency of the situation, they are reluctant to tackle the subject head-on. "None of the questioned politicians has a clear plan how to implement all the listed priorities. The politicians will likely avoid the question until the next general elections in the fall 2018 in order not to lose their conservative voters," Re:Baltica said.

You can read the full report HERE.

The next installment in the series is due October 11.

 

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