Labour shortage burning issue for Croatian industry – conference

ZAGREB,В 18 March (Hina) – The shortage of labour in Croatia is a burning issue for industry and an obstacle to greater GDP growth, so there is no doubt that importing labour is necessary, a conference organized by the Croatian Employers Association (HUP) was told in Zagreb on Monday.

HUP Director-General Irena Weber said that the labour shortage is a burning issue putting strain on the Croatian economy and employers.

“The position of employers is that a sufficient number of workers can be secured only by a systematic approach that includes a reform of labour taxation, a modern Labour Act, activation of working-age people on the market, harmonizing the education system with labour market needs, and importing labour,” Weber said.

She said that the European Commission’s projections show that Croatia might lose 6.8% of its active work population by 2030, while the HUP’s estimates indicate that up to 400,000 foreign workers will be working in Croatia in seven years’ time, provided that GDP grows at an annual rate of about 2.8%.

Weber said that the extension of residence and work permits, longer seasonal work and making it easier to change one’s occupation are the steps in the right direction, citing the importance of preventing system abuse and undeclared work. She added that there is room for improvement through additional digitalization of the work and residence permit issuing procedure.

She said that the amended Foreigners Act would make recruitment of foreign workers more difficult by limiting the number of applications for residence and work permits that can be submitted in a calendar year. Noting that recruiting foreign workers is an expensive and demanding process, she said that employers should be allowed to keep foreign workers for a certain period of time.

Weber stressed that the HUP supports measures aimed at engaging as many local workers as possible. “With smart policies on the labour market and in the education and pension systems, Croatia can halve the annual need for the import of foreign labour to 20-25,000 annually over the next seven years.”

She also mentioned the possibility of attracting Croatian emigrants back. “Croatia has reached over 75% of the average EU purchasing power, and there is less reason for emigrating.”

“There’s no doubt that we need foreign labour”

Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović presented the new Foreigners Act and the latest figures on work and residence permits for foreign workers in Croatia. He said that in the last two months, 43,299 work and residence permits have been issued to foreigners, which is 46%В more than in the same period last year.

“Croatia has the highest economic growth in the European Union at the moment. In order to maintain it, we need foreign workersВ and there’s no doubt about that,” Božinović said.

When asked when the new law will enter into force, he said that the public consultation has ended and that it will enter into force when the new government has been formed.

(Тази информация се разпространява от БТА по договор с хърватската агенция ХИНА)