Latvia should focus on 'smart immigration', says Finance Minister

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In an interview with Latvian Radio on April 27, Finance Minister Arvils Ašeradens said that in his opinion, Latvia needs to open the door more broadly to the workforce from other countries and focus on “smart” immigration.

According to him, Latvian society is aging and the number of people employed in the country reduces by 2,000-4,000 each year. Currently, the situation in the Latvian labor market is somewhat stabilized by Ukrainian civilians entering Latvia.

“But it is the first year that we see in macroeconomic forecasts that this [lack of labor force] is already starting to have a negative impact on economic growth,” the minister said. According to him, “in the long term, we have to start thinking about very big issues”, such as the future operation of the pension system.

"If that population that pays into the pension system shrinks, then we have to think about how to proceed further. There are a lot of different scenarios here. One is to look at whether we can stabilize this situation by inviting guest workers," the minister said.

According to him, many sectors talk about the need to attract more labor from other countries, such as the construction sector. The Latvian construction industry is currently taking building teams through Poland, where migration rules are more relaxed.

Latvia could also attract more professionals from foreign countries to Latvian higher education institutions, the Finance Minister said, expressing the view that Latvia should focus on “smart” immigration.

“We should invite [them] here and find a way to pay for people that we need very much,” the finance minister said.

In his opinion, it is now the last time to address the problem of the missing workforce in Latvia in political debates. “Virtually all sectors are talking about the lack of a workforce right now,” the finance minister said.

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