Jobs are out there, but the vacancies cannot be filled up. That is the situation that Lithuanian employers grumble increasingly about. The reason? Shortage of skilled workers. And those who get hired often are irresponsible, urge big salary from the start, though without appropriate job experience. Lack of good, reliable workers is a major problem acutely plaguing Lithuanian employers, agrees Sigitas Besagirskas, head of the Economy and Finance Department at Lithuania’s Confederation of Industrialists.
University diploma does not guarantee livelihood
«One of the biggest problems Lithuanian labour market deals with is structural unemployment. Our education system prepares not right people, not with the skills that the labor market needs. We see an increasing trend that more and more youth with high education diploma enrol vocational schools in order to get a specialty after they fail to get a job with the diploma,” pointed out Besagirkas talking to a Lithuanian radio station.
Besides, he notes, the country’s educational system lacks proper professional orientation.
«When does the person usually come along a real work? Usually after graduating from a school, let it be university or a vocational school. Until then he or she has no idea about the profession and job. Often professions are chosen randomly, therefore all the problems with employment later on,» the expert underlined.
How flawed Lithuanian education system is shows a concrete example told to BNN by Vilma Gudeikaitė, а senior layout teacher at Vilnius Technology and Business Professional Training Center (VTBPTC).
«I teach the subject to four different groups, with around 30 students in each of them. In some of them the graduates of high schools and universities comprise up to 60-70 percent. That’s a lot,» she says.
Most of the university-graduates-turned-vocational-school-students have come from Vilnius University and Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU).
«There are dozens graduates of Lithuanian language, social care professions, as well as throngs of young people who completed narrow-sector studies, like print engineers, for example. The latter were taught for the work in print houses, but there are just a few of them around, so, not surprisingly, the people with the diplomas end up jobless. The reality check is often hard. Our school to the graduates often is a launching pad to new career opportunities,» Gudeikaitė told BNN.
High schools provide what she calls «theoretical apprenticeship», but the training school forges practical «know-how» skills.
«Programmers from VGTU, for example, enter our center to get some practical knowledge in design and layout. Many of them cherish hopes that by combining the theory and practice they will be able to land a decent job at the end of the day,» the teacher tells. «Some of them do, some don’t.»
She notes, however, that the vast majority, though with practical skills in layout, lack creativeness nevertheless.
Many of the vocational center students, the teacher says, are also lured by scholarship and free dormitory that the school provides.
Not designers, but haulers are desired most
Still, the biggest demand, labour market-wise, is not for layout designers and programmers, but to a whole lot more down-to-earth profession- haulers.
With the unemployment rate at around 10 percent in the country now and with tons of drivers out there, logistics sector badly needs long-distance truck drivers. Lithuanian haulage companies reportedly had 9,700 vacancies for the position in 2013, nearly 11,000 in 2014 and the number has hardly receded this year.
«This year, around 2,200 jobs for long-distance truck drivers have been already registered, with 905 of them still available,» says Milda Jankauskienė, chief specialist of the Communications Division at the Lithuanian Labour Exchange (LLE).
Among the other most desired workers are advertising and marketing specialists, storage service personnel, accountants and bookkeepers, sale people, mechanics, social care specialists and construction managers. “For the day, the Exchange has 6,700 free positions,” Jankauskienė told BNN.
Most of the haulers seeking drivers are based in Vilnius, according to the statistics. And that kind of employment ads in the Lithuanian capital amounts to an impressive 40 percent. Meanwhile, in Kaunas, the second-largest Lithuanian city, they comprise nearly 10 percent and in Siauliai, the forth-largest city, that kind of ads makes up roughly 15 percent.
In Klaipėda, the country’s logistics hub, the demand for truck drivers is just around 5-6 percent, according to the LLE statistics.
Although nearly a hundred jobless persons at the Exchange expressed their interest in the driver’s job, but majority fail to pass the strict scrutiny- many candidates do not have the necessary experience and appropriate international certificates usually.
And only after all Lithuanian citizens are disqualified for the work, the haulers are entitled to ask the Exchange to bring drivers from third-countries, mostly Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.
The process, the haulers insist, lacks simplicity, often exacerbating the problem of the shortage.
Still, the LLE has issued nearly 5,400 work permits for third-countries’ citizens in 2014, compared to 3,827 work permits a year before.
The figures, however, include all professions, but the LLE specialist tells that most of the work permits went for truck drivers and builders, especially from Ukraine.
Big, modest-size and small companies seek foreign workforce
Haulers and constructors in the largest cities and hinterland alike depend increasingly more on the foreign workforce, Lithuanian media notes.
Reportedly, JSC «Audva», based in the Panevėžys region, has invited over 50 masons from a Ukrainian construction company since past May.
Another international carrier, JSC «Gilota» from the town of Kupiškis, has hired seven foreigners lately and intends to rely on the foreign workforce in the future.
Jurgita Grigalionienė, head of Labor Resources Division at the LLE’s Panevėžys branch, says that only 11 foreign nationals were granted right to work in the region last year. The dozen filled local restaurants as chefs and set off on the road as long-distance drivers.
«Meanwhile, this year, from January to June 21, already 64 work permits were issued for foreign citizens and the bulk, 53, went for builders from Ukraine. All of them are employed by «Audva», the Labor Exchange representative noted.
Deividas Kripas, the venture’s director, insisted that hiring Ukrainians pays back as they are diligent and efficient, moreover, eager to work.
Gintautas Mockus, head of JSC «Gilota», a haulage company, is also satisfied with seven Ukrainians, whom he has employed as long-distance drivers.
«They carry cargo on the route from Germany to France. It took us a while to get them here, but the burden has paid off. There are a lot of Ukrainian drivers willing to work in Lithuania and only the best of the very best of them have been selected for the work,» Mockus noted to «Sekundė», a Panevėžys newspaper.
The Ukrainians get salary as big as their Lithuanian counterparts- 60 euro per day, according to him.
«If the driver is on the road a whole month he gets around 1800 euro after the tax deduction,» Mockus says.
Foreign workforce hiring procedure is lengthy
The Ukrainian drivers’ working schedule is usually as follows: two months behind the rule and a month of vacation thereafter.
As of now, foreign nationals make up around 10 percent of « Gilota» workforce, but the figure is likely to go up in the future, believes Mockus.
The demand for long-distance haulers and construction workers is expected to drive up the numbers of foreign workers in the country.
Out of 5,400 issues work permits for third-country residents last year, more than half of them, 63 percent to be exact, have been issued to Ukrainians, 22 percent-to Belarusians and 5 percent went for Moldovans, while the rest nationalities shared 2 percent.
Nevertheless, many potential employers are deterred by quite lengthy employment process that they and the foreigners have to go through.
«The bottom line is this: the employer can apply for foreign workers if he does not come along with a suitable local worker. Usually, free vacancies are registered at a local LLE affiliate, and if it fails to find the employer a suitable worker over a month, then the employer can endeavour to hire a foreigner. If the employer plans to hire over five foreign nationals over a half-year, he needs to inform the Exchange about it three months prior,» the Lithuanian Labour Exchange officials emphasized.
Besides, the employer must have all accounts settled with the State Revenue Service and Sodra, the State Social Insurance Fund among the other things.