August the 11th, 2023 – Croatia’s demographic issues and labour shortage problems aren’t news, but the number of third-country nationals in Croatia is now huge. A massive 6000 work permits were issued by the Interior Ministry (MUP) to Nepalese nationals in Croatia in the last three months alone. That’s without even going into the sheer amount of third-country nationals from other countries now living and working here.
As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, it’s impossible not to notice that the number of foreign workers in Croatia has been increasing for years now, and the reports on the number of work permits issued by MUP clearly show highly seasonal characteristics.
Seasonality has always been the economic thorn in Croatia’s side, despite the now blossoming IT and tech sector, and it seems that with serious demographic issues only getting worse, non-EU nationals from distant countries and not only from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are also getting roped into that trend.
Interior Ministry Data is eye-opening to say the least
The latest data from MUP shows that by the beginning of this month, a total of 108,116 residence and work permits were issued to foreign citizens, of which 53,524 were issued in the last three months alone. More than a fifth (11,673) of approvals granted since the end of April refer to third-country nationals in Croatia hired for seasonal jobs. Naturally, the vast majority of those jobs are in tourism and hospitality (about 10,700 in total).
The total number of permits obtained by employers in those three months therefore exceeds the dynamics of the first four months of 2023, when close to 54.6 thousand such permits were issued. This is, as expected, even more pronounced when it comes to those issued for employment in seasonal jobs. By the end of April, less than five thousand (4912) were issued, and at the beginning of this month there were almost 16,600 of them.
The seasonal stamp is also evident in the structure of the work permits issued to third-country nationals in Croatia by activity. In the last three months, the Interior Ministry issued the most to those set to work in tourism and catering/hospitality – almost 20.5 thousand, which amounts to total of more than 37 thousand in that sector alone this year (including about 15 thousand issued for seasonal work).
The construction sector is also cashing in on third-country nationals in Croatia
The domestic construction industry is also proverbially dipping its toes into the pool of third-country nationals in Croatia. In this sector, a massive 39,146 foreign workers received work permits, with slightly less than 17,400 issued in the last three months alone.
The industrial sector is also employing very many non-EEA workers
The Croatian industrial sector is also steadily employing more and more foreigners from outside the EEA. At the beginning of this month, 13,260 work permits were issued to foreign workers by MUP for employment in this sector, almost half of which refer to the past three months only. In Transport and Communications, the number of work permits issued by the powers that be has almost doubled since the end of April (more than 2,800 have been issued and there are currently a total of 5,742 having been given the stamp). The situation is similar in the trade sector, where the number of permits issued at the beginning of this month is only slightly less than 3,100.
While still present, these figures no longer refer only to employees from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina
In total, as well as over the last three months, the highest number of positive solutions for employment requests were issued for citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. More than 25,200 work permits were issued to those from Bosnia and Herzegovina since the beginning of the year. For workers from Serbia, that figure is slightly less than 17,400.
Those two countries account for 40% of all permits issued in 2023, alongside those issued to workers from two other countries in Croatia’s more immediate region, more specifically Macedonia and Kosovo. The share of third-country nationals in Croatia with valid work permits from nearby countries now exceeds 55%.
About 30% or more than 32,200 work permits were issued this year to citizens of four Asian countries, which are the most represented in terms of foreign workers in Croatia at this moment in time. In addition to Nepalese nationals, for whom almost 6,000 work permits were issued in the last three months alone, and more than 13,200 work permits since the beginning of the year, there are also Indians (8,242 approvals), Filipinos (more than 6,000) and Bangladeshis (4,628).