Labor shortages named as Baltic businesses’ main problem

Labor shortages and wage grown are seen as the main problem of businesses in the Baltic states, Ints Krasts, a member of the SEB Banka management board, said in an interview to LETA, citing the bank’s annual survey of chief financial officers (CFO) from all three Baltic states.

“The survey shows that the companies are ready to invest and take risks. Latvian companies have gene the most optimistic assessment of their financial state, and innovation is also high on the businesses’ agenda. As for the challenges, labor force is the first, second and third problem. And it is demonstrated not only by this survey, as the issue of workforce was also the main focus of conversations with entrepreneurs,” said Krasts.

The SEB Banka representative noted that most respondents in the survey said they wanted to boost productivity. Another line of development, mentioned by many CFOs, was investing in technology and production equipment. Various upgrades, like robotization, are also being considered.

“We also asked about the enterprises’ plans to attract employees from foreign countries. More than 15 percent of the surveyed businesses in Estonia and Lithuania said they did not have such plans. Another 40 percent of businesses in Estonia and Lithuania either said they already had such foreign employees or they were planning to hire such guest workers. In Latvia, these are 25 percent. Wages have not been growing at the same rate in across the Baltic states – Lithuania and Estonia are one and a half to two years ahead of Latvia. We therefore cannot predict what will happen here. In Lithuania, for instance. 18 percent of enterprises said they did not yet have but would like to hire labor force from abroad. In Latvia, these are only 4 percent at the moment. This is therefore a question for the state to answer – are we ready to open up our borders to labor force or not?” said Krasts.

The annual survey of Baltic CFOs was conducted in September 2018 by interviewing CFOs from 226 companies in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia with the annual turnover of more than EUR 20 million.

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