December 17, 2018 — The Croatian government is set to confirm an increase in the annual quota of foreign workers allowed to work in Croatia, to shore up labour deficits across several economic sectors, according to Vecernji List.
The new quota allows 63,600 foreigners to work in Croatia next year. It includes increases for the healthcare, social service, and tourism industries.
Demographers from the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, Ivan Čipin and Šime Smolić, calculated that one person travels into the country every 38 minutes and 14 seconds. Presumably, some of them come to work in Croatia. Meanwhile, people continue to migrate three times faster, with one person leaving the country to work elsewhere ever 13 minutes and 54 seconds.
The proposed quotas allow for 200 permanent nurses or technicians, a first for that industry. Fifty would work in the healthcare system, and 150 in the homes for the elderly.
The new quota also includes a call for social welfare workers. Only five foreigners were employed in this sector in 2018 — as guide dog instructors.
As of next year, 460 slots will open in some sectors of the social welfare system. Apart from nurses, at-home caretakers and homes for the elderly and children, the system lacks cooks, cleaners. The market is also open to ten physiotherapists, work therapists, social workers and five foreign psychologists and speech therapists.
Plenty of Work In Croatia, Not Enough Workers
“It’s only a drop in the sea of our needs,” Jozo Tolić, entrepreneur and representative of the association of owners of private homes, told Večernji. “If there were workers, homes for the elderly and the disabled could immediately employ 2,000 people. My estimate is that the social welfare system will need 3,500 workers very quickly. The proposed quota is not enough; it should be increased.”
Tolić added private facilities are burdened with the requests for accommodations but reject them even though they have empty rooms because they do not have enough staff.
“You can not take people if there is no one to feed and take care of them,” he said.
The salary of the nurses in the nursing home ranges from 3,600 to 4,000 kuna per month, and nurses from 5,300 to 5,900 kuna.
“We would also have a thousand euro monthly salary if we could charge so much from the user, but we can not,” Tolic said.
“You can not find a home cleaner in Zagreb even if you paid in gold,” Tolic complained.
Only in this year, according to his data, 1,800 nurses left Croatia. Most headed to Germany, where they earn EUR 1,800 to 2,000 per month.
Of the 63,600 new slots, 41,810 licenses relate to new employment, 6,540 are seasonal employment permits in tourism, agriculture and forestry, 250 allowances to switch roles, and 15,000 extensions of existing licenses.
All the quotas are meaningless if nascent wage increases slow down or stop altogether, according to Krešimir Sever, president of the Independent Croatian Trade Unions.
“The competitiveness of the Croatian economy cannot be built on low-paid labour,” he said. “The government increases the quota just as momentum for wage increases build.”
“There is a lot of illogicality in the Government’s proposal,” he said, citing the five permits for foreign psychologists as an example when over 200 Croatian shrinks are unemployed.
Quotes for foreign workers in the tourism and hospitality industries will double next year, even though Interior Ministry data show new hires fell short of last year’s quota.
Tourism companies and caterers were able to employ 600 foreign chefs this year but used less than half the amount by the end of October 2018.
Next year’s quota is increasing by one thousand, not counting the chefs of international cuisine and auxiliary workers.
Shippers could have employed about a thousand foreign drivers this year, yet by the end of October, they hired less than 50.
The tech industry was one of the few economic sectors to use a majority of its allotted work permits in 2018, with nearly all of the 300 spots filled. For some reason, it’s 2019 quota will drop by 120 work permits.
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