Talking to Latvians abroad about work opportunities in Latvia

Despite Latvia having more vacancies than people to fill them, there are several barriers that keep citizens from returning from abroad and entering the workforce. State institutions, employers, vacancy sites, as well as family and friends residing in Latvia need to work together to change the mindset and carry this news abroad, according to Latvian Radio.

As previously reported, the Latvia Works (Latvija strādā) initiative aims to return at least 1,000 Latvian expats home, luring them with available work. The initiative has involved 100 businesses, and has helped 132 citizens find work.

Latvia Works Coordinator Karīna Rozena estimates that the repatriation rate due to this program is even higher, because many return with family, children and partners. She admits that catching the attention of those living abroad is difficult, but not impossible. A lot needs to be done over social media. In addition, their friends and relatives here in Latvia need to actively tell their close ones abroad about work opportunities in Latvia.

“Interest has been growing from those who have left - they reach out on our Facebook page, and when we look at the Latvia Works website statistics, over a hundred people look at it a day. For this audience that's very good,” admits Rozena.

The main barriers to repatriating are finding a home and employment. This is precisely why Latvia Works works with companies to encourage them to be flexible in the recruitment process, allowing for remote interviews. The most in-demand vacancies are business service centers and international companies, especially those where a foreign language is needed.

In turn, job advertisement website “Your Move” Founder Jānis Kreilis, who brings together employers with job seekers abroad on his platform, explains that for repatriated citizens salary is very important, and they are looking for a net salary of at least 1000, in addition to evaluating the work environment.

“In the west a more collegiate, tolerant, polite and equal attitude is typical in the workplace. Your boss is also your colleague. You work under someone's leadership, not subordination. Those are crucial differences. It is difficult to feel settled when finding yourself in a hierarchical environment reminiscent of the soviet era. Of course everything else comes with it: the importance of employees, how much the company is ready to take care of them by offering not only a salary, but also a good work environment, nice office, drinks,” explains Kreilis.

When asked how to speak to citizens about returning to Latvia for work Kreilis emphasises that many who have left Latvia during the crisis still have a bitter feeling, so emotional appeals could annoy them. Offer them something practical - what are the work opportunities.

“People don't go for false emotional plays to come home, live in your homeland,” says Kreilis.

Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LTRK) Board Member and Policy Department Director Katrīna Zariņa agrees with using electronic media to speak to citizens. "At the same time, employers understand that they can't expect a huge wave of repatriation. That's why we're working with them to give support in regards to residence and mobility. We lack the highest level ad qualified specialists. The question is - how can we attract them to Latvia," says Zariņa.

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