Which Company Created the Most Job Opportunities in Croatia in 2016 and 2017?

By 31 January 2018

January 31, 2018 - With so many people emigrating from Croatia due to lack of opportunity, is anyone actually creating jobs in the country? A look at the companies who are creating the most new job opportunities. 

Far away from the glitzy tourist season where millions of visitors enjoy the idyllic Adriatic coast and islands in one of Europe's top tourist destinations, the economic realities of life in the modern Croatia are harsh in the extreme. Emigration is rife, as the young and talented seek opportunity elsewhere - Germany, Ireland and beyond - frustrated by the corruption and lack of employment prospects. Whole areas of Slavonia and other parts of eastern Croatia are suffering major depopulation, and the anguish for those left behind was perhaps best expressed in a viral video posted by Miroslav Mita Jerkovic, which has been seen over a million times. You can read Tears for Slavonia: The Pain of Emigration in Spoken Word.

With so many people leaving, and so many people looking for jobs, is anyone actually creating employment in The Beautiful Croatia? Well yes, of course there are new jobs occurring, as businesses and entrepreneurs try and make a go of this notoriously difficult business environment. But who are the companies creating the most new job opportunities in Croatia today, what sectors are they operating in, and how many new jobs a year are we actually talking about?

Probably the best source of reliable and accurate information comes from Lider Media, who each year publish a report on the top 500 companies in Croatia. While looking for information about the great job creators in Croatia today, I came across this article from September 2017, which lists the top 10 companies from the 500 in terms of new jobs created in 2016. We will look at the list in a minute, but the total new jobs created by these top 10 job creators in 2016 in Croatia was just 6,138. Of these numbers, almost a third (companies in first and third place on the list) were employment agencies, so not exactly companies creating jobs within that company. But ok. The other statistic that stood out in the report was the fact that Croatia's top 500 companies had lost 23,426 jobs in the last ten years, the equivalent of two Konzums. Here is the list, including the sector of business:

1 ELECTUS DGS d.o.o., Zagreb (Employment agency) 1189
2 ZAGREB-MONTAŽA d.o.o., Zagreb (Construction)       723
3 SMART FLEX d.o.o., Zagreb (Employment agency)     687
4 WE-KR d.o.o., Lepoglava (Metal Finishing)                   619
5 ZM-VIKOM d.o.o., Šibenik (Steel Construction)            608
6 HATTRICK – PSK d.o.o., Dugopolje (Betting Shops)    540
7 FLIBA d.o.o., Stupnik (Electric Appliance Sales)           504
8 VALAMAR RIVIERA d.d., Poreč (Hotels)                       498
9 MLINAR d.d., Zagreb (Bakery)                                      452
10 MÜLLER TRGOVINA ZAGREB d.o.o., Zagreb (Retail) 318

Leaving aside the social commentary that the fourth biggest new job creator (taking the two employment agencies out of the equation) in Croatia in 2016 was a betting shop company, the numbers are tiny. 

Much, much smaller than another company I know which, although it only employs a handful of people in Croatia, has created thousands of job opportunities since it started operations in Croatia in October, 2015. 


And before the anti-Uber brigade go into one of their tirades, let's list a few caveats.

1. Uber does not employ drivers, but those drivers find work through the ride-sharing app.

2. Not all Uber drivers are full-time.

3. The Lider list states that it does not include newly-formed companies in its list. 

OK. Let's take all that on board and then move forward with some statistics. 

From the start of operations in October 2015 until the end of 2016, Uber had 1,500 drivers earning a living (part or full-time) through its ride-sharing app. More than any company in Croatia in this list of the top 10 new job creators of the top 500 companies in Croatia. 

By the end of 2017, Uber had over 3,000 drivers.

Uber Croatia has stated that the market in Croatia has enough space for about 10,000 Uber drivers, or the equivalent of about 60% more jobs than the country's top 10 (including betting shops and employment agencies) managed in 2016.

I was surprised to learn that there are now 50% more Uber drivers in Croatia than taxi drivers, and the difference in percentage of honest Uber drivers (don't forget that transparency brought about by technology) and taxi drivers is considerably higher. 

I use Uber a lot, and I speak to the drivers about their experience a lot. Of course, there are some who complain about the low earnings (working in a supermarket 6 days a week for 3,000 kuna a month is not much fun either), that there is not always enough work and a host of other complaints. 

And then there are the other, much more common reactions - flexible lifestyle, decent earnings; Zagreb in the winter, Dubrovnik in the summer - LOTS of money to be made; retirees for whom the pension does not go far enough, despite them working all their lives in The Beautiful Croatia - part-time Uber work helps cover those bills; driving an Uber or emigration - this is the only job option available. 

Uber is not perfect, and it will always be controversial, but a slightly deeper look into the effects it is having on society here in Croatia probably reveals an essential lifeline for many Croatians, who are otherwise struggling in this harsh economic climate. Will Uber make them millionaires? Of course not. Will it provide the means for some to put bread on the table when few or no other opportunites exist? For sure. 

It is either that or one of the 540 jobs at the betting shop.