While we talk about how robots will replace people on the labour market, there is a parallel discussion about the staff shortage in the EU and Bulgaria. Human resources specialists have been trying for some time now to change the terms of “staff” and “workforce” with “people”. They find them kind of outdated. Outside of settlements where depopulation is taking place with dreadful power, there are still some people, but often they do not have the qualifications needed by the businesses. This is why HRs who are afraid to call things by their proper names have been talking about talents and the battle for them for years. Yes, there is a battle, but only for those with certain skills, for which there is a deficit on the market at a certain moment. From time to time, such a crisis is at its height in Western Europe, where, from the southeast, everything seems to be somewhat better organized.
Here are the signals Germany is giving:
Looking for a skilled workforce!
In December 2019, Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on the adoption of new laws as part of the efforts to attract more foreign workers in order to compensate the shortages in various industries. She expressed strong hope that the problems could be solved through the Immigration of Qualified Workers Act, which will enter into force on 1 March 2020. By acquiring a “blue card”, higher education graduates from non-EU countries will be able to work in the Federal Republic. The new law will also open doors for people with secondary vocational education, as long as they have the necessary qualifications in areas where there is a lack of workforce. Merkel acknowledges that there is a race for certain specialists in the global labour market and called on Germany to offer attractive working conditions but also to provide qualifications for the Germans.
In Germany, sectors such as information technology and healthcare suffer from staff shortages.
Most needed now
are specialists in professions related to mathematics, informatics, natural sciences and technology, construction, hospitality industry. Chances for the realization of people from non-EU countries will open up if they are certified electrical engineers, metallurgists, mechatronics, cooks, elderly and ill people caretakers, developers and software engineers. But Germany is also confronted with a serious crisis in freight due to the huge deficit of truck drivers. There is an outflow from this profession as well. A study found that nearly one-third of heavy truck drivers are over 55 years old, and only 2.5% are under 25. In order to attract more qualified professionals, Germany is making efforts to improve its work with chambers of commerce and crafts in the countries, which are potential donors of specialists, but also seeks to strengthen the study of the German language abroad.
In Austria, there is also a problem
Three quarters of enterprises lack skilled workforce. Information technology, metalworking and electrical engineering are sectors where an import of specialists is needed. The Austrian Business Agency is developing strategies for attracting qualified personnel from Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Croatia and Greece. They will be recruited at career forums, and an online labour market is scheduled to start this year.
However, the situation with the shortage of personnel is similar in Bulgaria. There are many areas of activity where
the lack of manpower
creates difficulties – from IT to the hospitality industry. Just as it was argued that within 10 years the profession of drivers will disappear with the emergence of autonomous cars, thus, at the moment, due to the lack of such professionals, the lines of municipal, regional and republic transport schemes are suffering. Carriers are gradually leaving this type of activity. There are public procurements for the transportation of passengers, to which no one appears, and things are getting out of control to such an extent that, unless urgent measures are taken, certain settlements will be left without transport, the Confederation of Bus Carriers warns.
Here is another point of view to the problem: In Bulgaria, there is no shortage of personnel, the workforce is completely sufficient for the needs of the labour market, and the crisis thesis widely advertised by employers is overexposed. In fact, there is no labour shortage, but there is
decent pay shortage
This is stated by the Chairperson of Solidarity Bulgaria Association and economic advisor of the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour Vanya Grigorova.
However, another call came from France. The administration of Emmanuel Macron believes that countries that do not provide a “decent standard of living” may be deprived of EU funds. But such a move would be a direct hit against the poorer countries of Eastern Europe, are some of the comments in Bulgaria.
The problem with the staff has many sides
On the one hand, there is a real shortage of specialists with specific skills. We have blamed the education sector for lack of flexibility, but we see that even countries like Germany and Austria suffer from the same disease. On the other hand, payment draws dividing lines, it is also part of the problem and its solution. Thirdly, people with qualifications in various fields are moving to the developed West without those countries having invested in the education and qualification of the professionals in question. Fourthly, the strong West that holds the “knife and cheese”, “carrot and stick” finds a way to attract our true talents, but also to hit us if we compete with them, as happened with transport and logistics. And now, because of our lower standard of living, we are also in danger of being cut off of the EU funds.
The facts suggest that even if our education system shows maximum flexibility to meet the needs of our market, there is no guarantee that trained people will stay and work in Bulgaria. Once we are “hooked” to the developed countries, they will take what they need. And they will show us where we belong if we try to be their competitor, even though in a fair play.