Latvia's human resources, especially for representatives of highly qualified or specialized positions, have actually been exhausted. This was highlighted at the conference by both market analysts and entrepreneurs who face the problem on a daily basis.
For example, Printful, which has offices and manufacturing facilities in various countries, currently has major problems with attracting employees in its homeland.
“If I have to find some particular technician or marketing specialist, I will most likely find them in Poland or Spain, where the pay level is similar, but it's a wider job market,” said Pārsla Baško, director of global staff at Printful.
“Already today we are seeing a lack of certain competence. In particular, highly qualified competencies. And in the future, we see from the results of our research that there will be even more demand for highly skilled specialists,“ said Ernst & Young partner Ilona Butāne.
Businesses and experts both agreed that it is necessary to improve the retraining of the unemployed and promote employment of young people, as well as remigration. But those alone would not be enough.
“But without us looking for talent outside Latvia, we will not succeed. If we want growth, then our demographics don't show we can produce enough talent here on the ground,” Butāne said.
Another problem is that Latvia's education system is able to prepare quality workforce, but they choose to go abroad. While foreigners – do not want to move to Latvia even with a good wage, because they might not feel safe here.
"A big and fundamental argument, of course, is respect for human rights, from respecting the rights of minorities to basics - whether they can educate their children here, whether they can get good health services. It's all affecting their choice!" Baško said.
Economics Minister Viktors Valainis (Union of Greens and Farmers) pledged at the conference to take the initiative in solving labour attraction issues.
"The concerns of entrepreneurs are fully justified. We will come forward in the near term with an offer in which way to accelerate these processes, not only to accelerate processes to attract foreign employees, but also to tighten the controls that are going on with these employees, both on the business side and on the national side," the minister said.
Valainis is convinced that his initiative in the coalition will be supported because the declaration of the government of Evika Siliņa (New Unity) includes a commitment to implement an “immigration policy adapted to support economic growth”.