Although the number of unemployed is still high, employers are having a hard time finding employees.
There are 26,000 open positions in Croatian companies. The list includes cooks, cleaners, assistant cooks and kitchen workers, drivers, economists, builders, nurses… Although the state recently allowed 7,000 foreigner workers to be employed, companies are demanding additional quotas, and the urgency is especially high in the shipbuilding, mechanical engineering, construction and transport sectors, reports Večernji List on March 29, 2017.
According to estimates of entrepreneurs, there is a need for 16,000 foreigner workers. Croatian Employers’ Association complains that even for existing quotas approvals are being issued very slowly and seeks changes to the rules for foreigner workers. Head of the metalworkers’ union Vedran Dragičević said that the realization of 1.5 billion euros worth of contracts in shipbuilding was in question. It is estimated that in the last seven to eight years around 20,000 Croatian metalworkers went to work in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and the Scandinavian countries.
“People would start coming back if their basic wage would be increased to a thousand euros net. The union will not be against foreign workers because it is in our interest for the contracted jobs to be done, but we demand salaries to be increased”, said Dragičević. The situation in the labour market is such that companies will have to fundamentally change their relationship to employees.
However, the Croatian Employers Union does not support the increase in wages. “Our companies compete in the open market and must be able to offer competitive prices despite being burdened with very high costs. Therefore, there is little room for salary increases, but the situation is different in some other industries”, says Admira Ribičić from the Croatian Employers Association, noting that the problem of people leaving the country is only partly related to the issue of salaries. As an example, she says that the ICT industry, which has high salaries, also needs thousands more employees.
The Croatian Employment Service says that at various job fairs they have collected 10,000 applications of seasonal workers who are waiting for the call to start working, but the tourist industry says there are not enough employees. “Everybody would like to find an employee who is ready to start working, and no one would like to invest in training”, says an expert involved in the process.
The problem in the tourism sector is especially severe. The problem is best illustrated by the Ambroz Haračić Vocational School in Lošinj. Among the 297 students, there are just three future waiters. From season to season, there are more and more tourists, about fifty new hotels will be opened, and many have already started looking for employees. Some have signed contracts with permanent seasonal workers, giving them even Christmas bonuses, service bonuses… just so that employees would return in 2017 as well. Tourism sector has around 95,000 permanent employees, and it needs around 30,000 seasonal workers.
“The number grows at least five percent a year. Istria needs about 10,000 seasonal workers, and it needs to bring in as many as 6,500 of them from other parts of the country. Although employers blame everybody else, they are forgetting that they caused some of the problems. They sent many people to early retirement. After Croatia entered the EU, people can now choose where they will work”, said Marina Cvitić from a trade union. “Hoteliers understand that workers have to be better paid. Now they are building hotels for accommodation of workers and providing them free accommodation and food. If salaries do not increase by 5 percent, there will be problems.”