Emigrating? Many Croatian, Foreign Companies Can’t Find IT Pros; Send Your CV!

Total Croatia News

June 11, 2019 – Another paradox of life in Croatia, as IT companies are now hiring foreign IT professionals as locals are leaving. Are you an IT professional thinking of emigrating but want to stay?

One of the best articles ever written on TCN was Goran Antonijevic’s 25 Odd Facts About Croatia, a Land of Paradox, a brilliant look at many of the contradictions of this beautiful and yet troubled land. One of the 25 odd facts relates to employment/unemployment:

12. Large unemployment rate, but in need of working force

This is somewhat connected with paragraph four of this article; there are more than 238 thousand unemployed people enlisted in Croatia, and according to unofficial data, that number is actually higher than 300 thousand. Still, there is a number of employment ads being unanswered, more each day. Croatia is educating an increasing number of specialists that are already highly represented in the unemployed population. So, there are many Croatian economists working as cooks, law school graduates working in construction, philosophers working as IT managers, and quite a number of physicians working as politicians, even though there is a shortage in medical personnel all over Croatia.

With the opportunities in Ireland, Germany and elsewhere, it is not surprising that many younger people decided to emigrate in search of better economic opportunity and higher wages. A lot of people told me that most of the jobs available were very low-paid and seasonal with tourism, and they could earn a lot more abroad. It is an argument I could understand, of course, and yet there were some odd things as I noticed travelling around the country. 

A luxury small hotel on a Dalmatian island, for example, which had tried to hire Croatian staff for the season and spend a lot of money trying to attract staff via the usual employment portals. without success. The conditions for chambermaids, by Croatian standards, were reasonable. A six-month contract with food, accommodation and 6,000 kuna net a month, working 6 days a week. Too low, you cry? Perhaps, but the strange thing is that when the hotel could not find workers in Croatia, they ended up employing mostly from Portugal, as well as countries such as Ireland. 

But the more I travel around and talk to people, the more I see another strange tourism dynamic, and this one has nothing to do with seasonal work or low pay – the IT sector in Croatia. 

Croatia has a tradition of great IT skills, and while the big tech companies do not have offices in Zagreb, the contribution which Croatian technology is making is considerable. For every Mate Rimac, there are several more doing great things in the shadows. Economic reality is dictating that IT workers can earn a lot more in Germany and Ireland than they can in Croatia, which is an argument I can understand. 

My web guys in Varazdin do a fabulous job for me, and I am very happy with all they have done during our 6-year partnership But their efforts to maintain their well-priced and quality service is under constant strain, as finding high-quality developers in Croatia is increasingly difficult due to proximity of the border to higher paying countries in the EU. Again, that makes sense… 

But then… 

Over the last few weeks, I have been spending a lot more time with entrepreneurs, digital nomads and IT companies in Zagreb, working on various ideas and projects. And I have noticed something rather unusual… 

A little like the Portuguese chambermaids on the Dalmatian islands, there are a growing number of foreigners moving TO Croatia, take advantage of economic opportunity, at the same time as many of Croatia IT professionals are heading in the opposite direction.

One company, Oradian, for example, is a global leader in fintech software, with additional offices in Nigeria and the Philippines, as well as its head office in Zagreb. A Venezuelan software employee told me the other day that there were no less than 24 nationalities, including USA and several EU countries. 

They are not alone. There is an increasing number of foreigners moving to Croatia to work in the rapidly expanding IT sector. And I am assuming that people are not leaving good careers in more developed countries to work for significantly less money in Zagreb and elsewhere. 

There is, of course, the issue of foreign wages for foreign developers, and local wages for local developers, and I am sure that this has been a major issue over the years. But I also think that it is one which will even out very quickly out of necessity. Various IT company owners I have spoken in recent weeks all say that they simply cannot find enough quality employees within Croatia, as so many have left. 

I spent part of yesterday morning with a Swiss company whose headquarters are in Zagreb (TCN interview coming soon). A very successful startup and global leader in its field, the company currently employs 20 people and will be looking to take on another 20 within the next year. With so much competition for the skilled IT workers who have remained in Croatia, they are pessimistic about their chances of attracting the right quality personnel by simply advertising, and they are considering a campaign to raise their profile here to make them appear attractive and visible to potential future staff. 

There are other companies I have met who are looking to expand their operations around the country and the region, but they simply cannot find the people. The more I speak to insiders in the industry, the more I can see that it is expanding and the greater the need for skilled Croatian IT workers. And if more IT professionals were aware of the scale of the opportunity, perhaps some would find their perfect job and working conditions in Zagreb or even their home town. 

So if any IT professionals are interested in job opportunities within Croatia, send your CV and a brief covering letter introducing yourself and what you are looking for to [email protected] and let’s see if we can’t find a couple of matches to make a small contribution to slow the crushing emigration. 





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