Thursday, 12 January 2023

Austrian Best in Parking Takes Over 50% of Croatian Company Verso Altima

January the 12th, 2023 - The Croatian company Verso Altima, which deals with IT and software, has sold a 50 percent share of its ownership to the Austrian company Best in Parking (BIP).

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, while this is now public information, the Croatian company Verso Altima's management don't want to reveal the amount of money involved. This domestic company otherwise designs, develops, implements and maintains advanced ICT solutions, and in 20 years of doing business, it has worked for more than 170 clients from 50 different countries.

As they stated, with this investment, they will try to strengthen their international presence and ensure the commercialisation of their own development solutions, especially those in the field of digital and green transition.

"The regional presence of the company, as well as twenty years of ICT experience in creating additional value for our users, was recognised by the Austrian group Best in Parking (BIP), with which we've entered into a strategic and ownership partnership," stated Mario Gerencir, the director of the Croatian company Verso Altima.

As he added, the sale of the 50 percent share was due to market needs and the search for additional specialisation within the scope of the wider digital and green transition. This is a company which, over recent years in Central and Eastern Europe, has primarily focused on the digital and green transition with an emphasis placed on Smart City solutions, and in 2021 they achieved 8.13 million euros in revenue. Gerencir is also not ready to disclose last year's business figures, instead pointing out that although 2022 was challenging, the company's planned activities were mostly realised.

The merger with the Austrian BIP, a company that is the leading owner and operator of parking and mobility infrastructure in the markets of Austria, Italy and Croatia, should give the Verso Altima a significant boost.

"By changing the ownership structure, we'll enable the rapid and high-quality development of our own resources, increase the visibility of reference products, and ensure new employment and investment in development and research. The change we initiated is aimed at the development and improvement of business, whereby we will continue to be maximally dedicated to our existing users and projects. Joint and future strategic decisions will be strongly focused on the development and expansion of production and development capacities, which represents the provision of new services for the digital and green transformation with an emphasis placed on Smart Connect solutions, and a continuous presence in network business, IoT and digital transformation," announced Gerencir.

The Austrians, on the other hand, expect that with this investment they will manage to upgrade the offer of their own digital services and thus become a pioneer of solutions for smart and climate-efficient cities. They began implementing this strategy back in 2021 by purchasing the company RAO, which offers software solutions for the management and control of public car parks and road space, as well as payment systems, solutions for access and ticket sales for national parks and nature parks, recreational facilities and marinas.

By purchasing this share of the Croatian company Verso Altima, they will further complete their offer of smart and green solutions to their own clients. "With our investment in Verso Altima, we're even going a step further. We aren't only deepening our digital competences, but also strengthening our position as an active partner of public administrations in order to increase quality of life, while acting in a way that saves resources,'' noted Johann Breiteneder, the CEO of Best in Parking.

The Croatian company Verso Altima is also developing digital and green solutions with the help of European Union (EU) money. Gerencir stated that Verso Altima was granted European co-financing last year from the Next GenerationEU recovery fund for the implementation of a project called "The Commercialisation of Innovative Citizen Engagement and Open Smart City platforms" worth 1.4 million euros in total.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Austria Won't Block Croatian Schengen Path, But Germany Might

November the 26th, 2022 - Despite claims to the opposite, Austria has recently cleared up the fact that it will not be standing in the way of the planned Croatian Schengen entry at the beginning of 2023, citing complaints with Schengen expansion in general, and not merely about Croatian accession. Germany, however, might throw a spanner in the works yet.

As Ines Sabalic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Austria will not prevent Croatian Schengen membership from going ahead, and neither will Sweden, which had also threatened to do so in the past. But Germany could.

There is a high chance that Croatian Schengen entry will go ahead without much fuss, but a last-minute issue is also possible. At the moment, in all the Schengen capitals that are being asked about Schengen, Zagreb, the responses are positive to Croatian entry. However, it's not over yet, because there can be unpleasant surprises where you least expect it, and some last minute problems, so we've heard, do indeed exist.

Schengen is much more than free border crossings and data exchanges, which, along with Eurozone entry in January 2023, is a question of confirming political identity for Croatia. For large member states and countries close to the center of the EU, identity is self-evident. For the Scandinavians, the EU is a rational choice. The British refused it for a multitude of reasons. It is crucial for Croatia and this confirmation would have a beneficial effect.

Over in Germany, a key part of the ruling coalition is the Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grunen), and their reaction to Croatian Schengen plans is unpredictable. If they decide to make a fuss at the last minute, Scholz's government and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser will not be able to support Croatia's entry. It's more than likely that everything will be fine, but it ain't over until the fat lady sings, as they say in Britain.

Previous negative indications from some countries to Croatian Schengen entry were motivated by internal political demands and disagreements. An example of that can be found in Sweden, where two completely different parties, the Swedish Democrats, and the Social Democrats, demanded all three countries (Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania) be stopped form enteting. The far-right Sweden Democrats are against it, and the Social Democrats ask "What benefit does Sweden have from the entry of Croatia into Schengen?". At the same time, Ylva Johansson, Commissioner of the European Commission (EC) for Internal Affairs, whose responsibility includes Schengen, is a Swedish socialist herself.

As things stand now, the problem with the Swedes has been solved, that is, Sweden confirmed once again in Brussels that it will give passage to Croatian Schengen entry without causing any issues along the way.

The same is true in nearby Austria, despite recent issues the media has cited. There, the party in power, the OVP, is nervous because the public's trust in the party's good handling of the migrant issue has long-since dried up, and nostalgia has grown (according to polls reported by Der Standard) for Sebastian Kurtz, who advocated a hard-line migration policy for Austria. The threats against Croatian Schengen entry were aimed at increasing and consolidating support among VP voters, but the main issue is, as stated, Schengen itself, and not merely Croatia entering it.

The main reason for the increased number of migrants in Austria is that people simply come, pass through Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Croatia, and are directed to the northwest, towards "real" Europe. Many member states, such as Austria in this case, probably imagine Croatia as a kind of European Union military frontier, a border area that was once defined by Maria Theresa as a defense zone against the expansion of Turkey, and which later grew into a Habsburg war province.

Quite simply, the Austrians want fewer migrants or at least effective control of who enters and when. Their issue is with Schengen simply ''not working'', to quote one Austrian minister. At the same time, in these same member states, coalition or opposition parties on the left demand respect for the human rights of migrants.

The parties of the left, and especially the Greens, also understand the border areas in a better way, and what they demand is an individualised approach to migrants, so that one of the fundamental values ​​on which civilisation rests, namely respect for human rights, is not compromised. Recently, the Greens in the European Parliament also voted in favour of admitting Croatia to Schengen, because the argument of the right to enter, and for equal rights for all, prevailed in the end.

At the same time, many MEPs, and especially the German Greens, continue to show great dissatisfaction with the violation of human rights at the borders. There, the petition "Europe, stop paying for pushback" was recently launched, in which, along with Croatia, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Spain and Slovenia are all criticised for being verbally and physically violent towards potential asylum seekers, and resorting to violent measures of rejection (pushbacks).

The Greens are a complex party, and the only one among the major parties in all of the European Union that has a deeply idealistic vision, which is largely channeled into mainstream politics, and a smaller but highly visible part into activist actions. 

The lens through which these two opposing political formations see the incidents at the European Union's external borders with migrants is different. The only thing in common is that both are dissatisfied with the European Commission. Some, like the OVP, and we've seen this from the remarks made by the Austrian Minister of the Interior Karner, criticise the too lenient approach of the Commission regarding the asylum policy and Schengen, while the German Greens criticize Frontex, the European agency that is at the external borders and helps the national border police in their work.

These members are dissatisfied, they want something from Greece, which they constantly criticise, and also from Croatia, which would like to enter Schengen, but what do they want exactly? What kind of border area should Croatia be? Should there be a military landscape at all? Nobody seems to have much of an idea. However, it will be necessary to have a long, hard think about what the Croatian borders, the EU's external ones, will look like following Schengen entry in 2023.

For more, make sure to keep up with our news and politics sections.

Saturday, 15 October 2022

Croatian Restaurant Chain Koykan Hopes to Conquer Germany, Austria

October the 15th, 2022 - The Croatian restaurant chain Koykan, known for its so-called ''fast-casual'' style, is set to spread to the German and Austrian markets following a new investment round.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, on Wednesday this week, the Croatian restaurant chain Koykan presented its expansion plans for the wider European Union (EU) market to investors, which includes the opening of as many as fifty franchise restaurants in Germany and Austria by the tear 2025. The Croatian chain Koykan is otherwise quite the unique restaurant concept that offers a wide range range of street food dishes and international cuisine in one place, from Asian and Mexican to Mediterranean and American, all based on high-quality and fresh local ingredients.

In order for the company's ambitious plan to expand its business to the European Union market to come true, the founders of Koykan plan to attract an investment worth one million euros with the help of the digital investment platform Funderbeam, and would-be investors have confirmed their interest in investing in this rapidly growing Croatian street food franchise.

"Funderbeam is a global digital platform that enables startups and developing businesses to raise capital under more favourable conditions than venture capital and other forms of investment at that stage of business development. At the same time, Funderbeam also enables individuals to become part of the business success of innovative and growing businesses as small investors with an investment of as little as 250 euros. This is a significant change in the world of investments, since until now such investments were reserved only for large institutional investors,'' explained Ognjan Despot, the director of Funderbeam for Central and Eastern Europe. He also pointed out that Croatian companies have already raised more than six million euros through various Funderbeam investments, while total investments through Funderbeam amount to more than 50 million euros.

"We didn't just decide to take this step overnight. Over the past decade, we've learned a lot, often from our own mistakes, we've worked persistently, we've developed, and only now are we truly ready for expansion into the European Union markets. With the help of Funderbeam, our goal is to raise one million euros in Series A and with that spring our step, to open up fifty franchise restaurants throughout Germany and Austria over the next three years," explained Boro Milivojevic, one of the co-founders of the Croatian restaurant chain Koykan.

Every company on Funderbeam must have a leading investor who contributes to the campaign's credibility with their investment, and the leading investor in Koykan, Mato Marcinkovic & Partners, emphasised that here in the Republic of Croatia, it is necessary to activate the investment climate in promising companies that plan to expand to a much larger market in Europe.

Davor Bruketa, a partner in the famous Croatian branding agency Bruketa&Zinic&Grey, joined Koykan as one of the investors. "After hearing about Koykan's story a few months ago, I decided to invest and financially support the project. The expansion of the first Croatian fast-casual restaurant chain is also interesting to my agency, so we decided together that Bruketa&Zinic&Grey will help with the design, digital advertising and brand activation for their franchise expansion," says Davor Bruketa.

The Croatian restaurant chain Koykan wants to include all of its fans in this project, therefore both Koykan employees and major suppliers have become investors, and the desire is for customers who like the famous Koykan classics such as their burgers, gyros, wraps and other offers to join in as well. The fundraising campaign on Funderbeam is set to continue for another month, and the currently expressed interest in investing has already exceeded the initial expectations of the founders.

For more on Croatian companies and investments, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Croatian and Austrian Green Parties to Step Up Cooperation

ZAGREB, 18 June 2022 - The president of the Styrian Green Academy Sigrid Binder and the head of Croatia's Green Alternative, Zorislav Antun Petrović, on Saturday held a meeting at which they concluded that the bilateral cooperation between Green parties in Croatia and Austria was very good and vowed to further it.

Binder was quoted in a press release issued by the Green Alternative Orah as saying that she arrived in Zagreb to see how the local red-green coalition is functioning in the city.

She recalled that also in the Styrian capital of Graz, a coalition of the Greens, the Communist Party of Austria and Social Democrats of Austria is in power.

During their visit to Zagreb from last Wednesday to Saturday, members of the Green Academy were informed about the local municipal issues such as public transportation.

Binder noted that there are too many cars in Zagreb that do not only make transport more difficult but also worsen the air quality.

We hope that some of the solutions applied in Graz and Austria could be applicable here too, she said.

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Croatian Valamar Company Purchases Another Austrian Ski Hotel

June the 5th, 2022 - The well known Croatian Valamar company has purchased yet another Austrian hotel in a popular ski resort, as it eyes further expansion and the offer of permanent work contracts for its employees.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Croatian Valamar company is continuing to expand its portfolio in Obertauern, Austria, by acquiring the luxury Hotel Kesselspitze, which will thus become the third Valamar-run hotel in Obertauern and the first Valamar Collection hotel in Austria. The Hotel Kesselspitze has so far been owned by the Lürzer family, which is recognised as a leader in development and innovation in the entire Obertauern destination.

The internationalisation of the Croatian Valamar company's overall portfolio with a focus being placed on winter destinations in the Alpine region is one of the company's strategic goals from back in 2018 with the opening of the first 4 * hotel, the Valamar Obertauern Hotel. The company's expansion in Austria continued throughout the year 2021 through the acquisition of the Marietta Hotel in Obertauern and the establishment of a new ownership structure within Valamar A GmbH, an SPV company in which Valamar has a minority investor but provides hotel management services to the entire portfolio.

The Hotel Kesselspitze 5 * is otherwise one of the most famous and recognisable hotels in Obertauern, it boasts 66 rooms, a restaurant, an indoor pool and wellness facilities, and enjoys an excellent location with direct access to the nearby ski slopes. The Valamar Collection brand represents the highest level of services and comfort for guests, as well as a range of services that Valamar will offer to guests. As the first Valamar Collection hotel in all of Austria, it will open its doors during the winter season of 2022/2023.

"The internationalisation of business by expanding our portfolio in winter destinations in the Alps is a strategic goal of Valamar. The acquisition of the third hotel in Obertauern represents another important step in the realisation of business synergies, especially the employment of our seasonal employees for the whole year,'' said Zeljko Kukurin, CEO of Valamar Riviera.

The Croatian Valamar company plans to continue investing in the quality of its portfolio in nearby Austria.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Harald Kopitz Children Deaths: State Attorney's Office Files Indictment

February 23, 2022 - The State Attorney's Office has filed an indictment against Harald Kopitz, who killed his three children in Zagreb's Mlinovi last year. He faces up to 50 years in prison.

As reported by Total Croatia News, in September last year Austrian citizen Harald Kopitz was arrested by Croatian police in Zagreb for the murder of his three children. 

Harald and his wife were divorced, and she left her children to spend the weekend with their father while she was on a business trip in Dubrovnik. On the night of September 25, following a worrying Facebook status posted by Kopitz that was later reported by his contacts, Zagreb police entered Harald's apartment only to find the dead bodies of the children and their father in critical condition after attempting suicide.

169ca431ac8676a339b7.png

Harald Kopitz, an Austrian citizen residing in Zagreb, was arrested by the police for the alleged murder of his three children, which was later confirmed. In the Facebook status he posted, Kopitz wrote something of a farewell letter, noting that his ex-wife thwarted their current love relationship and that his job situation was not improving. In addition, he stressed that he did not receive the necessary support and that he was ''at the end''. The worrying post caught the attention of his contacts, who reported it to the police. You can read the full story here.

As Index.hr reports today, the State Attorney's Office (DORH) has filed an indictment against Harald Kopitz for the murder of his three children. The Austrian citizen faces up to 50 years in prison.

"Following an investigation, the Zagreb County State's Attorney's Office filed an indictment before the Zagreb County Court on 23 February 2022 against a citizen of the Republic of Austria (1965) for three offenses against life and limb and three aggravated murders under Article 111. items 1 and 2 in conjunction with Article 51 of the Criminal Code. 

The indictment charges the defendant that on September 24, 2021, at around 10:00 pm, in Zagreb, in the apartment where he was staying with his three minor children (2013, 2013 and 2016), with a premeditated intention to deprive the children of their lives, took advantage of the children's trust in him as a father and committed the aforementioned criminal offenses to the detriment of the children. In the indictment, the Zagreb County State's Attorney's Office requested that the defendant's pre-trial detention be extended until the end of the criminal proceedings due to the danger of recidivism and particularly serious circumstances of committing this criminal offense (Article 123, paragraph 1, items 3 and 4 of the criminal proceedings)", announced the DORH.

Let us remind you that Kopitz killed his three children in Zagreb's Mlinovi at the end of September, and then tried to kill himself. He was sentenced to pre-trial detention because of the danger of repeating the crime, so as not to influence witnesses and because of the particularly difficult circumstances of the crime he is suspected of.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Austrian Minister Says Croatia's Admission to Schengen Area Important for EU

ZAGREB, 26 Jan 2022 - Austrian Minister for the EU Karoline Edtstadler said in Vienna on Wednesday that Croatia's joining the Schengen Area was an important security issue for the EU which Vienna supported, the Croatian parliament stated in a press release.

Minister Edtstadler met with Parliament Deputy Speaker Željko Reiner, who is visiting Austria.

At the meeting, Reiner thanked Austria for its support in the aftermath of the earthquakes that struck Croatia in 2020.

He also thanked Austria for its continued support for Croatia's foreign policy priorities -- joining the Schengen Area, the euro area and the OECD.

The parliament's press release also said that Reiner explained to the Austrian minister the problem of the current election law in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the status of Croats in that country.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Croatian-Austrian Startup PlanRadar Eyes Global Expansion

January the 23rd, 2022 - The Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar has made quite the impression on investors, and they're now eyeing global expansion.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marina Bilus writes, the founder of the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar has stated that it is absolutely imperative for them that companies work globally with their application and that through such a presence, they continue to bring the greatest value to the industry in which they operate. They claim to want to be the trigger for true change by transforming construction sites across the world.

The founder of the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar, Domagoj Dolinsek, summarised their ambitions, revealing for the first time that PlanRadar is embarking on a new round of raising fresh capital to continue on its path of global expansion, this time targeting primarily distant markets such as that of Australia and those of the Middle East.

Just a couple of months or so after revealing that, Dolinsek and his team achieved their goal by securing an impressive 69 million US dollars in Series B investments.

That investment line-up is led by Insight Partners and Quadrille Capital, and the existing investor Cavalary Ventures, as well as Headline, Berliner Volksbank Ventures and aws Gründerfonds, and Proptech1, Russmedia and GR Capital have also invested in this impressive company. The capital entrusted to PlanRadar will also serve to double their team in just one year and to increase the number of employees by as many as 200.

After the news of the exceptional success of this round of funding was officially announced, the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar specified that their global expansion would include the opening of new offices in the USA, Australia, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Southeast Asia and Latin America.

"We'll encourage investment in the R&D department, create a new technology hub and form a team of product innovation experts to create new technology solutions for the SaaS platform that sets new industry standards," they explained from PlanRadar, adding that in just 18 months, from a previous 30 million US dollar investment, their revenue swelled by a massive 250 percent and their number of beneficiaries doubled.

Their platform, which brings together a wealth of site workflow data and structures it to make it instantly available to any construction project participant through a single mobile app, is used daily by 100,000 professionals in more than 60 countries around the world.

"Our mission is to facilitate construction work and property management and we've proven that there is a huge global appetite for our technology," said Ibrahim Imam, one of the co-founders of PlanRadar, while fellow co-founder Sander van de Rijdt added that the global PropTech is transforming an industry that has historically been reluctant to digitise.

“The PropTech sector is poised for tremendous growth, and the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar is bringing the global construction and real estate industries into the digital future. The sustainable growth that PlanRadar has achieved is proof of their professional work and commitment. We immediately saw their potential, and their team continued to impress us with their commitment to growing customers, revenue and talent,'' said Thomas Krane, the CEO of Insight Partners.

"We're delighted to continue to encourage the rapid growth of PlanRadar and join the group of investors. We're extremely impressed with the technology, the team and the way it is helping to digitise the construction industry and the real estate sector,'' said Brice Delome, a partner at Quadrille Capital.

When Dolinsek revealed how they managed to transform the otherwise traditional construction industry into something more digital, he stated their formula for success - a user friendly application that, he claims, is simple for everyone who uses it, while at its heart has a huge anount of technological "machinery" that unites all complex compounds into a meaningful whole that is easy to manage via an app.

“Construction sites are quite complicated systems, and people associated with them often project this complexity through their way of working. But the trick is that by simply using the technological solution provided by PlanRadar, we eliminate the complexity of their workflow so that they work more simply, become more efficient and thus improve the sustainability and success of their projects,'' explained the head of PlanRadar.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Austrian Die Presse Praises Mate Rimac for Dogged Determination

January the 5th, 2022 - The Austrian Die Presse newspaper has praised Croatian entrepreneur Mate Rimac's strong will and determination, referring to him as a total outsider to the automotive world until recently.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Austrian Die Presse newspaper recently published an article entitled Croatian wunderkind must explain some things in which it writes about the "pioneer of electric motors Mata Rimac", who has ''amazed the professional world, as well as his compatriots."

The Austrian Die Presse publication writes that Rimac was initially a total outsider in the automotive industry.

“University professors told me ten years ago that it's impossible to produce a car in Croatia. And they were right - it was impossible,'' Rimac told Die Presse.

With his creative thirst for innovation, improvisation and his dogged determination and sheer strength of will, the young entrepreneur, who was born in Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1988, growing up in Frankfurt, annulled all the laws of the capital-intensive car industry, and he did so in Croatia, a country that was nobody and nothing in the automotive context,'' believes the Austrian paper.

"Everything is impossible until someone does it. I wanted to show people that electric cars can be faster than conventional ones,'' Rimac told the Austrian Die Presse.

The Austrian paper writes that the Rimac Group, with its 1,100 employees, "has long since flourished into an innovative development laboratory serving international automotive companies for high-performance electric motors, propulsion systems and batteries".

"Since the takeover of Bugatti back in July, Porsche's partner Rimac has established strength in the automotive industry," the Austrian paper noted. After moving the company to the futuristic Rimac Campus, which is planned for 2023, Die Presse writes, the company's workforce is expected to increase to 2,500 employees.

The Austrian paper also noted that Rimac has so far produced just under twenty prototypes of his electric sports car, the famous Concept One, and the Nevera is planned for a limited series production of 150 cars.

"The value of the Rimac Group, which has risen sharply thanks to the share of international corporations, is already estimated at two billion dollars," writes Die Presse.

“Rimac delights his business partners and compatriots not only with vegetarian menus in the company's canteen and with open offices adapted for dogs. A casual looking bearded man, without a tie, but wearing trainers, announced his entry into Bugatti together with the bosses of Porsche,'' writes the Austrian Die Presse, pointing out that Rimac is present on social media and that he continues to showcase his "almost childish joy in driving fast cars".

"Experts consider the positive effects of Rimac's success for this Adriatic country to be enormous," the Austrian paper said. Porsche has, as we know, entered into a joint venture with the Zagreb-based IT company Infinum and is now taking over majority ownership of e-bike maker Greyp, which was also founded by Mate Rimac, according to the paper.

"Thanks to Rimac, Croatia is no longer perceived only as a country with a beautiful coastline and good food, but also as a country with a positive investment climate and innovation,'' said marketing expert Petar Tanta, as published by Die Presse.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Croatian Staff Could Benefit Greatly From Valamar Austrian Hotel Purchase

December the 5th, 2021 - Valamar's purchase of an Austrian hotel could be fantastic not only for those who are investing in Croatian tourism but also for Croatian staff who want something much more permanent than seasonal work over summer.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, a Valamar Austrian hotel, a new one that is, could finally iron out the issues faced by temporary employment and the extremely seasonal nature of the Croatian economy, making things far more stable for Croatian staff who crave a regular income without worries.

Such an exchange, however, can hardly be expected at an institutional, interstate level, either because of legal barriers or the fear of hoteliers that they will lose workers who will simply drop everything without a second thought for a better salary in a ski-oriented, higher paying country.

In such circumstances, it is difficult to expect employers to seek formal education when hiring, which is advocated by professors from the Croatian education system, especially because students are educated according to outdated and inappropriate curricula. That could change once the Regional Centres for Competences in Vocational Education come to life, and the first effects on the labour market should be seen in around 2028. All of this could be heard at a panel discussion held at Zagreb's Faculty of Economics on Thursday.

The discussion on the connection between education and the labour market with as many as 10 panelists was organised by Zabok High School and the Faculty of Economics within the ESF project Zabok Regional Centre.

As many as three large tourist companies operating here in Croatia have facilities in their portfolio at Austrian ski resorts, and they're all fresh acquisitions. The Falkensteiner Group opened the Hotel Kronplatz in South Tyrol last year, this September it was announced that the Arena Hospitality Group is buying the Franz Ferdinand Mountain Resort hotel in Nassfeld. Valamar Riviera is currently buying its second hotel in Obertauern, and the plan is to employ more than 130 Valamar employees from Croatia during the winter at the ski resort.

"At Valamar, the focus is on permanent employment, we also have over 1,000 permanent seasonal workers, and the strategy of the internationalisation of our business in winter destinations has fitted in perfectly with these efforts. This gives Croatian staff the opportunity to continue working in this market, which has higher salaries, after the summer season, as their income in hotels in Obertauern is in line with Austrian law. In addition to the financial opportunity, they get a chance to expand their knowledge and experience, as well as improve their knowledge of the German language, which is important.

At the same time, they're sure that they will be accompanied there by the heads of departments they already know from Croatia, and they're also sure that they will have a job on the Adriatic by the time spring rolls around. This is also our attempt to address the problem of the emigration of Croatian staff abroad in this way,'' said Ines Damjanic Sturman, the director of the Human Resources Department at Valamar.

Although this is being considered, the institution of exchanging employees between countries with higher needs in the summer or winter season will be difficult to implement, said Sonja Holocher-Ertl, the director of Advantage Austria, a branch of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce's foreign trade department. On the Advantage Austria website, about 40 travel companies are currently looking for workers from Croatia.

“Hotel owners in Austria have similar problems when it comes to finding workers as Croats do. The most basic occupations are in demand, waiters, chefs, receptionists, housekeepers, janitors... and most employers are small or medium-sized family businesses, owners of 4 or 5 star facilities. This winter season, a desirable criterion is that workers be fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. Exchanging workers is an attractive idea, but it can best be done if someone happens to be the owner of said facility, who then relocates his workers as he wishes.

Without that, the matter can easily become very complicated, either because of legal procedures or because of the fear of employers that workers will simply stay where the conditions are better, in Switzerland, for example, Croatian staff are paid significantly more than they'd ever be in Croatia,'' explained Holocher-Ertl.

When it comes to labor migration, Natasa Kacar, director of the employment agency Gate2Solutions, claims that there are a lot of Croatian citizens who do, despite all, want to return to Croatia eventually.

"A lot of workers who work abroad call us because they're looking for jobs in tourism back home in Croatia, but they want decent wages and off-season work as well, and they want to know what conditions their would-be employers offer, and it's very difficult for us to find employers who can offer them what they need,'' concluded Kacar.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Page 1 of 9

Search