BUSINESS LOSES THE WAR FOR SPECIALISTS
Bulgarian employers do not like to spend money for training their staff even if it costs peanuts. They prefer to hire already established specialists which in turn results in considerable expenses for salaries. The mistaken philosophy for ensuring professionals has been described in detail in Eurostat's most recent all-European research. It was published by the National Statistics Institute (NSI) in its issue Continuing Professional Training in Enterprises in 2005, published only a week ago. The research shows that according to investments in knowledge our country is ahead only of Greece within the European Union (EU) and is in the same company with Lithuania, Latvia and Romania.
On the background of the increasing shortage of experts in the world as a whole that negative tendency is alarming. According to the published data, only 29% of firms in Bulgaria are ready to spend money for ensuring its personnel additional skills. For comparison, 60% of the enterprises in the EU have that practice. And the UK is the absolute leader because 90% of the British employers invest regularly in courses for additional qualification. The training includes not only key competences such as PC literacy or knowledge of a foreign language, but also capabilities that not everyone has, such as contacts with clients, good management, and marketing of goods and services. Courses developing the ability to understand other people, and to be able to motivate them without destroying the balance between personal life and work, are even offered.
What's more disagreeable in this case are not the figures but Bulgaria's overall lagging behind the European idea of an economy, based on knowledge. Besides being the last regarding such investments, Bulgarian business has not advanced a single step concerning corporate training. The share of companies that organize such qualification has remained almost unchanged since the previous such research in 1999. Since then it rose in Romania from 11% to 40 per cent.
One of the reasons for that result is that in Bulgaria almost half of the working force is employed in micro- or small-sized enterprises which have limited financial resources and it's much more difficult for them to find people to overtake the duties of those absent, Dikran Tebeyan, Deputy Chairman of the Bulgarian Industrial Association, commented. But as a whole most of the employers don't realize the necessity of training throughout life. 83% of them point out that the skills and competences of their personnel are sufficient for the enterprise's operation, and 77.5% believe that if they need specialists they could find them on the labour market. Others complain of lack of time or doubt the expenses they make for training would be returned to them. These are usually the almost 35% that consider the qualification courses too expensive.
Regretfully, employers still do not realize that investing in their own staff's knowledge would be cheaper than the costs they would have to make for stealing personnel from other companies or for importing employees from abroad, Dragomira Shouleva, head of the Together consultancy adds. That explains why we are positioned 25th in Europe in terms of expenses for additional training. Our country's data show that in enterprises only 1.1% of the total costs for labour are set aside for qualification, while the average in the EU is 1.6 per cent. According to that indicator we are ahead of Latvia (0.8%) and Greece (0.6%) alone, and we are far behind Denmark and Hungary which invest 2.7% of their labour costs in qualification of their personnel. Quite a number of Bulgarian employers don't even plan to train their employees. 79.2% of the examined firms have agreed to organize training courses, have not even worked out a suitable plan for their realization. As a result only 14.8% of the employed in our country have got some kind of additional qualification.
WE'LL BE IMPORTING WORKERS ACCORDING TO REGIONAL QUOTAS
Within two months Bulgaria might start importing labour force from the Ukraine, Moldova and Armenia if the they accept our country's proposal to sign an agreement for regulation of labour migration. That was announced in the beginning of the week by Lilyana Stankova, head of the Social Ministry's Migration and Free Movement of People department.
The idea is to make hiring of foreigners easier but the agreements also project measures that would hamper the immigrants from prolonging their stay in our country. One of the proposals is that the foreign citizens should submit to the Bulgarian embassy in their respective country a declaration that they would return home within a month after their labour contract expires and to be banned from working in the host country again if they violate their commitment. Working permits shall be issued for a period of one year and for a specific working position. Each labour contract will be approved by the Employment Agency which will check if the offered wage guarantees normal living conditions.
At the same time the European Commission advises us to be careful with emigration. According to it, the outflow of labour force from Bulgaria would hamper the country in acquiring the EU structural funds because there won't be sufficient staff to ensure the implementation of its structural projects. According to Eurostat data for the last five years, 2.4% of the labour force left Bulgaria which places it among the countries with the highest emigration in the EU. Bulgarian workers go mainly to Italy and Spain - markets where they do not compete with emigrants from the other new EU members.