Chemical reactions spark economic growth

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Latvia’s chemistry and pharmacy sectors are developing rapidly and will need at least a thousand new highly-qualified workers in the next few years, Latvian Association of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Enterprises (LAĶĪFA) board chairman Vitālijs Skrīvelis told newswire BNS Thursday.

A large part of the current staff of specialists in the field are nearing retirement age, meaning that the need for the thousand new workers will be acutely felt very soon.

“The chemistry and pharmacology sectors are developing very well in our country. Many of the firms offer their products not just for local consumers, but also export to Europe and Asia. Exports in the sector amount to 78%. These companies can offer competitive wages to specialists. Young people studying chemistry and pharmacology need not worry about finding work after university. Companies can ensure practical experience for students and many of them stay on to become employees after their internships,” the LAĶĪFA head said.

The association has created a website to promote chemistry as a way of exploring the world, intended to present to parents, children and budding students a simple and engaging approach to chemistry.

Meanwhile the SKDS polling agency released findings that the public lacks a deeper understanding of the contribution of the chemicals and pharmaceuticals business to the national economy.

“Only a few people in Latvia are aware that Latvia’s chemists created the anti-cancer medicines or that Latvian-born chemist Wilhelm Ostvald received the Nobel Prize. People think their daily lives have no connection to chemistry, but not just medicines, but cosmetics and household cleaners are all chemical goods,” said SKDS head Arnis Kaktiņš.

Skrīvelis claimed at the public presentation Thursday that the sector was one of the fastest growing parts of the economy with the highest added value and lowest rates of staff turnover. He cited turnover in the sector at 572 million euro for 2013, predicting it would double by 2023 and employ many more workers.

LAĶĪFA is a non-profit NGO that lobbies for the industry at Cabinet and Saeima on  behalf of makers and distributors of pharmaceutical products, chemical agents and reagents, rubber goods, cleaning and washing agents, cosmetics and other household goods involving the chemical sciences.

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