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Niklass, Mareks

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Diena - Latvia | 04/09/2006

Debate on shortage of workers

It is becoming increasingly evident that Latvia has a shortage of workers, especially in the capital, Riga. Unlike Estonia and Lithuania, which have now achieved almost full employment, in Latvia unemployment is still at around seven per cent. But recruiting guest workers is a hotly debated issue because over 30 per cent of the country's population is already non-Latvian. According to Mareks Niklass, immigration is not the remedy. "We've got plenty of other options and it's clear that we haven't given them proper consideration yet. Latvia's productivity is low, at around a third of the level of the old EU countries. In areas like agriculture and wood processing we can only compete with low wage costs, and the more wages rise, the tougher the competition becomes for employers. A rise in productivity could only be achieved if employers were to cut down on the extensive use of manpower and concentrate less on manual labour and more on investment."

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