Surplus of low-skilled workers predicted for 2030 in Latvia

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A number of industries are changing today, so once-gained knowledge is no longer sufficient for citizens to stay in the labor market. The declaration of this Government contains a commitment to improving labor access and lifelong learning policies. The Ministry of Economics forecasts a surplus of low-skilled workers in the future and pays particular attention to acquiring digital skills, Latvian Radio reported on January 5.

At the end of last year, the country's registered unemployment rate was 6.1%. Less-paid professions – auxiliary workers, shop assistants, janitors, factory workers – have registered most as unemployed at the end of the year. At the same time, however, these professionals are the fastest to get their jobs.

In the future, however, the Ministry of Economics foresees a surplus of low-skilled workers. By 2030, they could be 95 thousand.

“There are obvious and very pronounced disproportions in the labor market, because economic competitiveness and sectoral growth are very closely linked to the process of transforming the labor market, which we also see in times of Covid and after. The demand for the low-skilled workforce is decreasing; processes are automated and digitized, and demand for skilled work is increasing. We have also talked several times about shortages in higher education, STEM. Looking at 2030, the lack of such specialists could be a little over nine thousand in Latvia,” said Jānis Salmiņš, deputy head of the Ministry's Analytics Service.

However, an even bigger problem in the labor market is in the stage of vocational education, where nearly 70 thousand workers could be lacking. Therefore, retraining and raising skills are essential to support citizens' ability to adapt to today's technology changes, thus leaving a large part of the population without work in the future.

It is also necessary to involve entrepreneurs in the changes in order to create demand for higher-paid jobs.

Jeļena Muhina, senior expert at the Department of Vocational and Adult Education at the Ministry of Education and Science, explained that over the last few years, 80 thousand employees have acquired new skills and qualifications that meet the requirements of the labor market. She said that particular emphasis was placed on digital skills.

"In our view, the main aspect is to reach those with less experience. We see more active involvement of those who already have a desire for training. But it is necessary to reach those who may not immediately see added value to training or are afraid to take the first steps in learning, including digital skills. It is very important to provide training for these people and support closer to their place of residence and in direct contact with a teacher who can show and encourage,” Muhina said.

Eva Lapsiņa, director of the State Employment Agency's Department of Development and Analytics, said that the profile of an unemployed person is improving. They find a job more quickly. The number of unemployed people before retirement age has also declined. Digital skills among the unemployed are growing. 

“There are different programs related to computer skills, digital skills and, of course, we offer training on online courses that already indicate in some ways that they have some level of digital skills because they are able to learn online. We look at what the labour market needs and offer and complement programs accordingly. Of course, there are many customers who do not have these digital skills and have the opportunity to learn at the moment, both those who are unemployed and those who are working. It will certainly continue in the future, and the supply of these programs will expand,” said Lapsiņa.

Sectoral ministries plan to support the recruitment of highly qualified and professionally prepared labor. And if there is a lack of specialists here, it is hoped to promote the re-emigration of Latvians abroad.

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