As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, over this past summer tourist season, around 7.5 thousand seasonal workers were missing in the accommodation sector, and workers were missing in 86 percent of tourist companies from the latest survey of the Association of Employers in the Croatian Hotel Industry (UPUHH).
If this extremely worrying trend continues, more than 8,000 Croatian hotel employees and the like will be missing next season, UPUHH director Bernard Zenzerovic revealed at a recent meeting with journalists. The sector is therefore appealing to strengthen education and training programmes for Croatian workers, to speed up work permit processes for foreign workers with MUP and more.
A survey in which 39 companies which employ 45 percent of all workers in the country’s accommodation sector took part, revealed that due to the lack of workers, as many as 42 percent of companies were forced to reduce the scope of their operations or services. This is significantly better than the situation was last year, when business was reduced by 65 percent, but it is still a very high number, explained Zenzerovic. This is especially true because the public health crisis which rocked the world for the past two years wasn’t an issue during the summer of 2022.
Because of all this, this year 37 percent of companies will have a reduced income this year, in contrast to last year when two thirds of companies reported this.
The survey also revealed that as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, when many Croatian hotel employees and others engaged in similar jobs left the sector or even the country, the share of seasonal workers in the total workforce increased. In these companies, the share of seasonal workforce stands at around 70 percent. The turnover of workers also increased, that is, the number of workers who came to a certain company for the first time increased, and the share of permanent seasonal workers decreased by as much as 17 percent in just one single year.
“This shows that the permanent seasonal measure has now had its day and needs to be adjusted, because it’s obviously no longer as attractive as it was before,” said Zenzerovic.
Within the UPUHH, they propose to increase the amount of salary compensation that seasonal workers receive from the state during the months in which they don’t work. As a good example of the sector’s cooperation with state institutions, he cited the employment of pupils and students, which increased by around 21 percent this year, which is the result of an increase in the tax limit.
When it comes to foreign workers, the UPUHH pointed out that it is necessary to start working on measures that will speed up the processes involving stay and work permits and MUP’s engagement as soon as possible. They propose to reduce the security check procedure for returning workers, which they rather ridiculously have to repeat every year, and given the fact that these returnees make up about 50 percent of the total number, it is an unsustainable way of doing things going forward.
They are advocating the digitalisation of the process of issuing work permits for foreigners at the level of the whole country, and they are asking the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to speed up the issuance of visas for the minority of workers who need them, and to increase the capacity of the services that process applications for stay and work permits for third country nationals within MUP.
“We need to actually realise that it isn’t just Croatia which is fighting for these workers, the whole of Europe, Austria, Germany… they’re all looking for them, and we have to do everything we can to remain competitive, because we now need to be aware that we can’t meet our needs for workers here on the Croatian market,” concluded Zenzerovic.
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