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Estonian labor shortage hits government monopoly

Will an exception from policy be made?

The Estonian state-owned energy company Eesti Energia is suffering from a labor shortage and wants to import 150 electricians from Belarus and Ukraine. The company needs to renovate its distribution grid before it loses monopoly rights in 2013. It is prepared to invest more 64-96 million euros per year.

Estonian employers argue Estonia needs over 100,000 new employees over the next five years. The government has resisted importing foreign workers, the head of the Migration Board naively citing riots in France as one example why Estonia favors bringing in only highly-skilled workers. Officials admit there is no definition of “highly-skilled.” So while ship-building companies in Estonia are not allowed to import enough welders, we wonder if in the case of a state monopoly electricians might be classified as “highly-skilled.” Watch this space.