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Krāslavas novadā trūkst kvalificēta darbaspēka

Successful sewing company provides a stitch in time for Latgale

The sewing company 'Nemo' in Latvia's eastern Krāslava region is showing that it is not just hi-tech startups that can provide jobs and growth. A second workshop has already been opened, where dozens of sewing machines roar and both experienced seamstresses and beginners – including refugees, locals and re-emigrants – put their hands to the development of innovative tents, mattresses and travel suitcases.

Although Latgale has the highest unemployment rate among Latvia's main regions, finding decent employers is still a big challenge.   

Yulia, a refugee from the Ukrainian war, has been calling the sewing workshop her workplace for five months. Previously, she had her own tattoo company in her homeland. Before living in Latvia, she could never have imagined that she would ever be able to fall in love with the sewing profession.

"Since I am an art person, it is very close to me, even though I did not see myself in this field before. Everyone is surprised - "Yulia, you sew? How is this possible?" When I sat down, I looked at the sewing machine and thought – what, where, how? Now I know every sewing machine, every stitch," said Yulia. 

Nemo, which mainly sews women's outerwear, has opened a new production workshop for outdoor equipment in cooperation with a Swedish company.

It created 20 new jobs, but there is still a shortage of employees.

"The number of people is really insufficient, especially those who are able to work. Let's start with the fact that there is discipline, that work starts at eight and it lasts until five. You have to work carefully, with high quality and a sense of responsibility," explained SIA Nemo board chairwoman Ilze Zemdega-Grāpe.

Further development plans of the new workshop are to attract at least 30 more qualified tailors, including men, because the production of tourist equipment is hard work.

"Our ambition is to create a new, in-demand business with a large, knowledgeable team of employees and local management here at Nemo. The kind you see today. We will not stop making new investments in the building, equipment and most importantly, the right people," vows textile engineer and designer Ida Aransson.

Nemo is one of the largest employers in Krāslava district and employed around 150 employees last year. Currently, a seamstress without experience is offered a salary of 800 euros per month before taxes, while with experience it rises to 1,000 euros before taxes.

4,000 companies are registered in Krāslava county, but more than 2,000 have been liquidated in recent years. Currently, the unemployment rate in Latgale is 10.5%.

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