Friday, 23 September 2022

Croatian 2021 Census: Less Inhabitants, Less Men, Less Catholics

September the 23rd, 2022 - The final Croatian 2021 Census results have finally been published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), which shows that there are less inhabitants, less men, and less people who identify as Catholic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Central Bureau of Statistics has now published the final results of the Croatian 2021 Census on the total population by gender and age, as well as by ethnicity, religion, citizenship and mother tongue.

According to the Croatian 2021 Census, the Republic of Croatia currently has 3,871,833 inhabitants, of which 1,865,129 are men (48.17%) and 2,006,704 are women (51.83%). Compared to the 2011 Census, the number of inhabitants decreased by 413,056 persons or 9.64%.

The total number of inhabitants decreased across all of the country's counties, and the largest relative decrease in the number of inhabitants was rather unsurprisingly present in Central and Eastern Croatia, more precisely in Vukovar-Srijem County (20.28%), Sisak-Moslavina County (19.04%), Pozega-Slavonia County (17.88%). Brod-Posavina County (17.85%) and Virovitica-Podravina County (17.05%).

The share of the population aged 0 to 14 stands at just 14.27%, and the share of the population aged 65 and over is a considerably higher 22.45%.

Croatia's national population structure as of 2021

The results of the Croatian 2021 Census show that the share of Croats in the national structure of the population stands at 91.63%, the share of ethnic Serbs stands at 3.20%, Bosniaks 0.62%, Roma 0.46%, Italians 0.36% and Albanians 0.36%, while the share of other members of national minorities is individually less than 0.30%. The share of people who have declared regionally amounts to 0.33%, and the number of people who did not want to declare this at all amounts to 0.58%.

Religious affiliation

According to religious affiliation, 78.97% of people refer to themselved as Catholics, 3.32% refer to themselves as Orthodox, there are 1.32% Muslims, and non-believers and atheists amount to 4.71%, while 1.72% of people didn't want to state their religion or religious beliefs whatsoever.

According to data by religion from back in 2011, it can be seen that the number of Catholics fell by a not insignificant 7.3 percent. The number of atheists, agnostics and skeptics has also increased somewhat.

Data by religion from 2011

Catholics – 3,697,143 – 86.28%
Orthodox - 190 143 - 4.44 %
Non-believers and atheists – 163,375 – 3.81%
Those who didn't declare their religious beliefs - 93,018 - 2.17%

Mother tongue

When it comes to what Croatia's inhabitants in 2021 have as their mother tongue, 95.25% of people declared that their mother tongue was Croatian, and 1.16% of people declared that their mother tongue was Serbian. The share of people with another mother tongue is individually less than 1.00%.

There are 28,784 foreigners living in Croatia

Of the total number of inhabitants of the Republic of Croatia, 99.24% have Croatian citizenship, while foreign citizens make up 0.74% or 28,784 of the population, according to HRT.

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

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Less and Less Slavonian Employees Working on Croatian Coast

September the 1st, 2022 - There are less and less Slavonian employees working along the Croatian coast, particularly in Dalmatia where they were once commonplace in bars, restaurants and in hotels.

As Morski writes, the number of Slavonian employees who work seasonally along the Croatian coast has dropped significantly. For years, Slavonian employees were a kind of "sign" of every summer tourist season along the Adriatic, but that seems to have come to an end.

The statistics of the Osijek Regional Office of the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ), which was the (second) largest pool of seasonal workers for the Adriatic, show that there has been a significant drop in the number of seasonal workers from Eastern Croatia.

During the first seven months of this year, around 1,100 people from Osijek-Baranja County were employed in various seasonal jobs along the coast. Compared to the same period back in 2019, there's been a decrease, as 1,823 people were employed in those jobs back then. The figures were even lower over the past two summer seasons, but these were the unprecedented pandemic-dominated years, which cannot be compared to anything else.

Ankica Vuckovic, head of the Labour Market Department of the Osijek branch of the Croatian Employment Office, concluded that there is less interest in Slavonian employees heading to work at various Adriatic hotels because there is an increasing need for employers in Osijek-Baranja County itself, meaning that much more stable job offers are now available to the unemployed in their own home county through year-round employment.

The strengthening of Croatia's continental tourism is one of the main reasons why there are fewer Slavonian employees now working on the Adriatic coast, but it isn't the only one. Well known Croatian economic analyst Damir Novotny believes that there are three aspects of this reduction. First of all, the costs during the height of the summer season are very high; if an employer doesn't provide workers with accommodation, seasonal employees simply cannot survive.

People from Slavonia aren't ready to live in containers or similar accommodation units, which their employers along the coast intend for them to stay in. Second of all, the wages on the coast are lower than what they can earn in, say, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, which has opened up to Croatian workers and absorbed a lot of labour from here. Higher-quality staff, who speak the languages of those countries, could very easily get a good job in the aforementioned Central European countries, especially in the ''boom'' after the pandemic. There's a great demand for catering, hospitality and tourist services in these countries, so the labour force from Slavonia is mobilised more towards these countries than towards Dalmatia,'' explained Novotny.

He added that the domestic component should not be neglected either, i.e. the increase in the number of small OPGs and family tourist accommodation capacities, which is visible in the entire Danube region, from Baranja to Ilok, as reported by Vecernji list journalist Suzana Lepan-Stefancic/N1.

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

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

From Ukraine to India - Around 100,000 Foreign Workers in Croatia

August the 17th, 2022 - There are more and more foreign workers in Croatia from all over the world. There will soon be more than 100,000, in fact, with employees having come from nearby war-torn Ukraine to all the way from India and beyond.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, RTL talked about the growing number of foreign workers in Croatia, but also how we might work to retain the ''homegrown'' labour force from Croatia, with the CEO of the Croatian Association of Employers (HUP), Damir Zoric.

The Republic of Croatia will soon exceed the number of 100,000 work permits having been issued for foreign (non EEA) workers, and Zoric said that the cause of this is the large demographic changes that Croatia is still going through, the increasing numbers of the younger generation leaving Croatia to work elsewhere, and the paradoxical situation of the outflow of labour on the one hand, but also economic growth on the other.

"The Croatian economy has to find its way and now requires the import of labour," he told RTL. He also said that highly qualified workers and low-qualified workers, of which there are very many, come to Croatia.

"These are workers in service industries, primarily in tourism, hospitality and catering, they're also construction workers who are extremely needed and in high demand, and there are some of them working in agriculture in seasonal jobs. Croatia is dominated by foreigners who come from neighbouring countries, traditionally for them, Croatia is the area where they find work. There are more and more people coming from Asian countries, but also from Ukraine and the Philippines," he said.

He also said that employers only have words of praise for foreign workers in Croatia. "People praise them, saying that they're extremely hardworking, disciplined, yes, of course they need a period of adjustment, which is natural, but I don't know of a single case where people have expressed themselves in any sort of negative manner," he said.

He also commented on whether the days have passed when local workers worked in hospitality, tourism and catering establishments on the coast, considering that there are more and more foreign workers in Croatia doing such jobs. "We need to see what happens in certain Western countries. When you arrive at a hotel in Paris, it's rare to see a native Frenchman working there, these are people who have sought happiness in work and life in France. Croatia is on that path and it will not stop now," he said.

He also commented on whether foreign workers in Croatia work under conditions and for wages that Croats don't want to work for.

"Everything is a matter of the market, it's about the relationship between demand and supply. For some, a salary of 500 or 600 euros is good, for some it isn't, and that's why what is happening is that some people leave and some come," he said. When asked how we might retain the local workforce, Zoric said: "Net wages need to be higher for Croatia to be more attractive to people with a higher educational structure, more complex knowledge and more demanding occupations.''

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

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Demographic Crisis: Hundreds of Croatian Settlements Close to Being Empty

July the 12th, 2022 - The demographic crisis which still has its grip firmly around Croatia's neck is far from something new. These issues have been plaguing the country for years, and now hundreds of Croatian settlements are close to being left totally empty as the population continues to decline.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at least 541 Croatian settlements across the country are on the verge of extinction because they have a maximum of just ten inhabitants, and in another 192 Croatian settlements, there are no living souls left. This devastating data has been highlighted by the first results of the population census by settlements published by the State Bureau of Statistics (CBS), writes Vecernji list.

The worst situation with this terrible trend of dying Croatian settlements and those where there are no more inhabitants left at all is in Karlovac and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, more precisely in the hilly and mountainous parts of those counties.

Karlovac County is the record holder with 129 settlements that have just from one to ten inhabitants and 30 settlements with no inhabitants, while in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, mainly in Gorski Kotar, as many as 104 settlements have from one to ten inhabitants, and another 55 of them have no inhabitants at all. Around 11 percent of all Croatian settlements, or 733 of them, have either been left without a living soul to speak of, or on the verge of complete extinction today.

It's worth noting that today, the Republic of Croatia has only 3.88 million inhabitants left, and that in the past decade alone it has lost almost 10 percent of its population.

Although from the census taken back in 2011 to last year (2021), the largest population loss was recorded in the Eastern Croatian county of Vukovar-Srijem, which lost a fifth of its inhabitants and today has around 144 thousand, followed by Sisak-Moslavina County, which lost 18.49 percent, and Brod-Posavina County, which was left without 17.53 percent of its inhabitants, it's interesting to note based on this information that Vukovar-Srijem County only actually has two settlements that have no inhabitants left.

In the very neglected Eastern Croatian (Slavonian) counties, where intensive emigration has occurred over the past decade, it's mostly formerly large settlements which haven't completely been abandoned and been left without a living soul. Pozega-Slavonia County has the most settlements with one to ten inhabitants living there, 42 of them, and another 17 settlements where there are no inhabitants at all. On the other hand, as expected, there are no settlements with up to ten inhabitants in the City of Zagreb, nor are there any in Medjimurje County.

Demographer Stjepan Sterc's data on the increase of almost 200 Croatian settlements in one single decade which are on the verge of complete extinction or of being left totally without inhabitants, is unfortunately far from surprising.

"For hilly and mountainous areas, the area of ​​Karlovac County, Gorski Kotar... this is unfortunately, an expected process. The settlementsin hilly and mountainous areas are disappearing rapidly, which is also shown by the increase in the number of Croatian settlements over the past decade in which just one to ten inhabitants live. The elderly population lives in those places, there are no families with children, and these settlements will disappear by time we conduct the next census'' stated Sterc.

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

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Low Croatian Youth Unemployment Rate Only Because of Demographic Issues

June the 29th, 2022 - Croatian youth unemployment is very low at this moment in time, not because of record economic growth or even because of the summer in which many people gain seasonal employment throughout the tourist season, but because of Croatia's ongoing demographic issues.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, it has never been easy for young people on the labour market, and the global coronavirus pandemic has only worsened their position. This is highlighted by recent Eurostat statistics, because the Croatian youth unemployment rate (of those aged 15 to 29) increased from 15.8 percent during the pre-pandemic year of 2019 to 2.4 percent, and then to 18.2 percent in 2021.

Croatia, however, isn't at all following these negative trends - but not for a good reason. Croatian youth unemployment rates are lower than the EU average and are continually falling. Back in 2019 it stood at 10.5 percent, and last year it dropped even further, down to 9.9 percent.

Predrag Bejakovic, a scientist at the Institute of Public Finance, explains that there are several reasons for the Croatian unemployment rate being as it is, as well as other such trends.

"The first is emigration. We don’t know the exact numbers of how many people emigrated, but the fact is that a significant number of people have left Croatia. If someone leaves, then they're usually younger people,'' says Bejakovic, adding that, in addition to emigration, the decline in the Croatian youth unemployment rate is also influenced by demographic trends, ie the fact that the share of young people in the total population in this country is always falling.

"We shouldn't forget the generous government support, the measure of the Youth Guarantee and the situation on the labour market, which is characterised by a shortage of labour," said Bejakovic.

This was a challenge for Croatia even before the unprecedented coronavirus crisis emerged

''Such trends don't mean that it's become easy for young people to find work,'' says Marta Sveb, a research assistant at the Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO) who addressed the problem of youth and the labour market in an analysis entitled "The Pandemic: Unemployment and the Lost COVID-19 Generation".

"Getting a job was challenging even before the coronavirus crisis, and then came the so-called an ice age when there were almost no employment opportunities due to the lockdowns,'' says Sveb. The current position of young people is again, due to the war in Ukraine and the consequent energy crisis, very uncertain.

"It's to be expected, on the one hand, that employers will employ less and less due to this crisis. On the other hand, the situation on the labour market has changed significantly and employers are facing a shortage of workers. What it will be like and what the perspective of the young people is, it's really difficult to say,'' says Bejakovic, adding that everything will depend on the outcome of the war in Ukraine.

The perspective of young people, adds Marta Sveb, due to the fourth industrial revolution, will also depend on their skills.

“The World Economic Forum points to trends of declining demand for workers in the segments that have traditionally employed the most workers in previous generations. These were, for example, data entry workers, administrative and factory workers. On the other hand, there's a growing demand for highly specialised STEM profiles,'' warns Sveb.

This generation, states the young scientist, faces challenges at every single step. But that doesn’t have to all be so bad, she adds.

"We can look at challenges as an obstacle or as an opportunity," she said, adding that those who will work to further develop their skills in those sectors, such as the green economy, will certainly find employment. The education system should, of course, be adapted to this, but for those who want success, it's much better not to wait.

There is work for everyone

The differences in the youth unemployment rates among the member states of the European Union are also interesting. They vary from 28 percent in Spain and Sweden to three and eight percent in the Czech Republic and Luxembourg.

"Unemployment in the Czech Republic is low, so youth unemployment also is. On the other hand, the general unemployment rate across the Mediterranean countries, such as Spain, Greece and Italy, is high, so it's harder for young people in those countries to find work as well,'' he concluded.

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

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Very Few Croatian Workers at Country's Construction Sites

June the 11th, 2022 - Croatian workers at construction sites up and down the country are becoming a rarer and rarer sight with imported labour now the forced choice of many as the demographic crisis makes Croatian workers illusive.

As Ana Blaskovic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the rise of the property market has gained additional momentum with continued inflation, and the dynamics of price growth are increasingly causing disbelief. Buyers and sellers are wondering how long this will go on for, each from their own angle calculating the optimal time to sign a contract, and experts warn that problems are still accumulating.

Builders can hardly plan at a time when the prices and availability of materials are rampant, the state doesn't have an adequate housing policy and housing affordability is becoming a luxury for locals while apartment and short-term rentals are booming. All of the above could be heard at the recently held round table called: ''Challenges and opportunities in the real estate market'' organised by the well known Njuskalo portal under the moderation of Robert Pokrovac from Erste Real Estate.

"The public is increasingly realising that we have two real estate markets. One is based on tourism, where projects aren't bought from a salary, but investors are focused on high-income buyers and foreigners, and the other is the lack of housing market for those people who live on Croatian wages,'' said Josip Tica, professor at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb.

Deficient policies

"Existing business models haven't yet adapted to this duality, and the state lacks public policies that would focus on solving this problem. In the real estate market, it can often be heard that developers and investors are talking about a recession, but I don't see a reversal of the cycle, only the existing model has come to an end. Projects are created two years before the ‘first shovel’ takes to the ground, so with inflation and current prices, it's necessary to exchange data as well as possible. Inflation can end in either recession or monetary restriction and economic slowdown,'' Tica said.

He added that in a situation when the country is perceived as attractive, and in which, due to tourism, foreign buyers have more purchasing power to influence real estate prices, there is a need to deal with the market where the domicile population will live, not just foreigners coming to Croatia.

Builders are plagued by a range of problems, from labour shortages to galloping raw material costs, and many have underestimated the dramatic jump in residential demand since the 2008 crisis, explaining the chronic shortage of current supply. For example, once between eight and nine thousand apartments were built in Zagreb, today the number is three times lower. The founder and procurator of Kamgrad, Dragutin Kamenski, pointed out that after joining the EU, this situation with the labour force was expected, and the local population is less and less tied to such occupations.

"It's not easy, but we're solving these challenges. Bringing foreigners in and having them work on sites instead of Croatian workers requires exceptional commitment to bring them into the system, people come to you who don't have the skills, they have a language barrier, you have to solve the issue of accommodation, food… At one point, we introduced about 200 workers into the system, which is why our productivity dropped by 30 percent with an increase in other costs, which is our reality in Croatia. I'll put it like this; On December the 31st, 2016, we had no foreign workers doing this, today we have almost no Croatian workers,'' he said, illustrating the daily struggles faced by this industry.

He believes that programmes should be made so that everyone in the construction sector can prepare for things on time and plan their capacities, because, otherwise, tenders will be announced in which no one will have the conditions to apply at all.

Although the domestic brokerage market is well regulated, even better than in some other European countries, current times are demanding, according to Dubravko Ranilovic from the real estate agency Kastel-Zagreb.

“Now is the time for sellers, we have an upward cycle and inflation. Our market is small, it's mostly under external influences, although it's also shaped by local conditions such as earthquakes and tourism. Intermediaries need to be accountable for how realistic they're being in their estimates and refer clients, and not just act for short-term earnings. At the same time, the media are communicating the requested prices, so it takes six to eight months for the owner to correct those (too) high prices, and agencies often tell apartment owners what they want to hear, which accelerates the growth of that same bubble,'' warned Ranilovic.

He believes that there is too little talk about the necessity of adopting a proper housing policy, although the current model of the real estate market in Croatia is unsustainable because housing is of course a necessity. The state strengthened the construction of apartments with preferential tax treatment, which expanded to residential areas, taking away part of that space in favour of short-term rentals, and then further aggravated the situation with subsidies. On top of that, the earthquakes of 2020 revealed that the existing housing stock is very poorly maintained, building tenants often don't even consider their chimneys, facades or roofs to be a problem, and that's something that desperately needs to alter.

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

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Croatian Construction Industry Doomed to Import Labour Long-Term?

May the 26th, 2022 - Is the Croatian construction industry simply doomed to have to import foreign (non-EEA) labour as an attempted long-term strategy to keep things afloat?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, there are fewer and fewer ''homegrown'' workers in the Croatian construction industry, and an increasing number of foreign workers on construction sites pose a number of challenges to the companies that hire them, according to the panel discussion "Challenges of the workforce" which was held in Zagreb recently.

Dragutin Kamenski, the director of the very well known company Kamgrad, pointed out that if the country successfully removed all other challenges that the Croatian construction industry is currently facing, and only the lack of manpower remaind, we'd still be in trouble.

A very complex process

"Now, the state has begun to take steps to facilitate labour migration, but it remains to be a very complex process because it requires additional efforts in bringing and introducing a new workforce to a particular company, as well as additional organisation and costs. As there is no additional base for recruiting labour here in Croatia, it's clear that in the long run we're doomed to importing foreign construction workers under any conditions,'' said Kamenski, adding that so far, they have had all kinds of situations with agencies that bring in foreign workers arise.

"Recently, a large number of agencies have appeared that bring in foreign labour, and time will show which ones are good and bring in high quality workers, and which aren't. If you end up with inadequate workers, it raises your costs and you're less competitive overall,'' Kamenski pointed out.

Based on his own many years of experience, he stated that in fact the best workers were those who did their training within large construction systems, and then eventually moved to smaller companies such as Kamgrad.

However, he is aware that is now rapidly becoming a thing of the past and that such workers no longer exist, and that now the focus should be on developing the Croatian construction industry's workers here in the country, and even more on selecting and introducing a foreign worker and then educating and introducing them to the whole process.

“Technical staff without knowledge of the Croatian language can only do a small range of work. We employ 10-15 trainees a year, of which only one or two remain,'' concluded Kamenski. Danijel Risek, the director of Hidroing, pointed out that they're a relatively small company that didn't have any major needs for the import of foreign labour, and what they did experience had a focus on nearby Kosovo.

“We're too small a company to go into the process of finding a workforce on our own, so we're referred to agencies. It's important to have a correct relationship with such agencies so that they know exactly what we need,'' said Risek. Stjepan Jagodin, the director of Pinoy385, a company specialising in the employment of Filipino workers, said that there are currently more than 300 agencies across the Republic of Croatia registered for employment mediation.

"An unregulated market leads to a situation where everyone comes to us, without any selections and conditions, and then the problem is that companies that hire such workers. In tourism, there are precise conditions that you must have and know in order to open an agency, and employment mediation can be done by anyone. That must be regulated urgently,'' Jagodin said.

Knowledge of the market

Ana Jadresin from the Manpower Group pointed out that it takes time for the market for mediation in the employment of foreign workers to be profiled. "Agencies that deal with employment mediation, be they domestic or foreign, must have a good knowledge of the market and the needs of their clients - what exactly companies need, what qualifications are necessary, what level of digital literacy there is, etc.

The problem is often that the client himself doesn't know what kind of workers he needs and what qualifications will be necessary, so it becomes difficult to meet their expectations. On the other hand, it's pointless to give unrealistic promises to foreign workers about a country with rivers full of milk and honey, because that only leads to frustration,'' stated Jadresin.

The issue faced by the Croatian construction industry isn't something new. The demographic crisis the country has been in for a very long time now has been a gradual drain on labour across all fields, even with the tourism sector, otherwise the country's strongest economic branch, also suffering tremendously. The Ministry of the Interior's infamously drawn out and draconian procedures often result in employers not getting work permits approved for their foreign staff in time, resulting in the dire need for a rethink.

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

Friday, 20 May 2022

Lack of Croatian Labour Causing Huge Issues for Tourism Employers

May the 20th, 2022 - The lacking Croatian labour force and the situation of just ''not being able to get the staff'' is having a seriously negative effect on tourism employers across the country. Some are having to close their doors.

We recently wrote about the Croatian tourism sector lacking enormous numbers of workers for the rapidly approaching summer tourist season, and it seems that the situation is being felt up and down the country in areas which would usually be rubbing their hands in excitement for a decent post-pandemic season.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Northern Adriatic region of Kvarner has always been among the tourist champions, but now it is among those in the worst situation in terms of a total lack of Croatian labour. Nikola, a local restaurant owner, had to close one of his restaurants in Rijeka because he had no one to employ to work there, which is absolutely disastrous considering the sheer importance of the tourism sector for the Croatian economy and the nation's overall GDP.

"Every now and then someone would leave, they'd receive immoral offers both in terms of working for the summer season, as well as for some other variants of employment. They'd leave Croatia, there would be a huge amount of dissatisfaction among workers and we were simply forced to close our doors, we could not stay open and run properly with only half the number of workers we need,'' said the president of the National Association of Caterers, Nikola Eterovic.

Some are also trying to patch things up in more innovative ways. Although he is the owner, Nikola also works as a waiter himself to try to make things run smoothly in his facility.

Most of the facilities that have operated before, will open this year, but the thing is that they will work with a reduced number of staff and an inadequately educated workforce, which can only result in poorer service and less customer satisfaction.

The Croatian labour market has been depleted owing to demographic trends, and the procedures enforced by MUP are still too complicated and go on for too long when it comes to trying to hire foreign (non EEA) workers from neighbouring countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, RTL writes.

"In some places, work permits are waited on for three to four weeks, and in some places we have the situation in which employers are forced to wait for MUP to deal with their request to hire foreigners for four to five months,'' warned the director of the Croatian Tourism Association, Veljko Ostojic.

For more on the Croatian labour force, or the lack of it, check out our dedicated business section.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Croatian Youth Leaving Country Because They Can't Leave Parental Home?

January the 19th, 2022 - There are many things responsible for the ongoing Croatian demographic crisis, from corruption to salaries to a bad economy, the list goes on and on. Croatian youth typically live with their parents for far longer than we see in most other European countries (with the exception of a few similar ones), could this be why they'd rather take their chances abroad?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, in the media presentation of the results of last year's damning census, the increase in housing units was singled out as a surprise, but this is not really unexpected.

In the previous census, the one from back in 2011, the same thing happened, the number of inhabitants of the country dropped, and the number of residential buildings increased. The difference is that the then smaller decline in population was accompanied by significantly higher growth in the number of real estate.

Specifically, in 2011, a total of 4.285 million inhabitants were counted in Croatia, ie 153 thousand less than ten years earlier, while in that interval the number of housing units increased by 370 thousand, to 2.247 million buildings.

The latest census recorded 3.889 million inhabitants and 2.350 million housing units.

However, the first data doesn't really give us a complete picture because, according to the president of the Real Estate Association, Dubravko Ranilovic, further processing has yet to reveal whether the reconstruction of the housing ''stock'' has finally begun and then we need to be given an accurate picture of the size, quality and purpose of these facilities. Reconstruction of the housing stock, he says, has been lacking so far.

In addition, the picture will be framed by data on the age structure of the population, as well as how many members of what we consider the Croatian youth have an apartment. So far, the population has been aging, and entering the EU acted as a "booster" for the emigration of Croatian youth.

The previous census from back in 2011 determined the average age of the country's residents to stand at about 42 years, which was three years more than in 2001. Now, of course, ''we'' will be even older, the only question is by how much.

92 percent of men and 84 percent of women under the age of 29 still live with their parents.

Dwellings are important in the overall picture, because one of the most cited problems in the emigration of Croatian youth was their inability to provide housing, independence and leave their parents' home. According to recently published Eurostat data, many households in Croatia are overcrowded, and the amount of Croatian youth still living with their parents is incredibly high.

In Croatia, 36 percent of the population lives in overcrowded homes, although 91 percent of people live in their own property, but these properties are too small, have too few rooms or too many household members. By comparison in the EU, the least overcrowded households are in Ireland, Malta and the Netherlands, where less than 5 percent of the population lives in overcrowded properties/homes.

When looking at the percentage of young people aged 16 to 29 living with their parents, Croatia is the EU record holder, because in those years, most Croatian youth still live with their parents. 92 percent of Croatian men and 84 percent of Croatian women still live ''at home'', while the EU average is 74 percent of men and 64 percent of women.

This matter will be made even clearer if it is known that apartments in Croatia make up only a quarter of the properties in the country, which might come as a surprise to some, so it is even clearer why young people find it much more difficult to stand on their own two feet and become independent.

Eurostat also found that from 2010 to the end of the third quarter of 2021, Croatian property prices, both for purchase and rent, were significantly below the EU average. Croatia is therefore among the countries with the lowest growth, and interestingly, the largest increase was in countries where Croatian youth tends to migrate, such as in Germany and Austria when it comes to selling prices, and Ireland when it comes to rent.

However, the prices themselves, although lower in Croatia than in Western European countries, are not crucial, according to Ranilovic, because it is noticeable that they fell in the areas from which the most people emigrated in recent years, and in those areas there were fewer transactions anyway. In addition, Ranilovic stated that as many as a quarter of Croatian property purchases, about 7,000 of them, were made by foreigners in Croatia last year.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Import of Foreign Workers Hampered by Croatian Bureaucracy

November the 16th, 2021 - The import of foreign labour from outside the EEA into Croatia, typically from neighbouring countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, is proving cumbersome with the infamously slow and arduous Croatian bureaucracy.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Dario Knezevic writes, with the stil impaired liquidity due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, ''getting the staff'' and having a qualified workforce is still the biggest problem of the Croatian hospitality and catering industry, especially since wages in the sector are still low and workers prefer to choose other occupations or instead opt for emigration.

Importing workers is currently an inevitable solution as the situation grows more tense, but there are a lot of problems in this regard as well, because there is a long procedure for obtaining work permits for foreigners and Croatian bureaucracy is still running at a snail's pace, hampered by draconian laws and what often seem to be senseless rules.

The sector is still plagued by high tax burdens, and the biggest problems are being faced cafes and nightclubs who suffered tremendously during lockdowns, warned participants in the Zagreb Caterers' Forum, held on Friday and organised by the Zagreb Caterers' Association and the Independent Caterers' Association.

Cafes are on the brink of survival

"Coffee bars and nightclubs have had and continue to have a very hard time surviving, when they have little or no traffic, restaurants are doing a little better because they haven't been closed for as long as bars and clubs were, and their traffic drop is around 30 percent when compared to 2019. If we fail to make more money during the advent season, we will have a very harsh winter and the number of 1,100 closed restaurants in Zagreb could increase in relation to the very beginning of the pandemic,'' warned Zakline Troskot, president of the Independent Association of Caterers.

Officially, three requests were sent from the Forum of Caterers to the City of Zagreb. They're looking for resolutions to the problem of being allowed to operate as normal in open spaces and on outdoor terraces. They are also seeking the lowering the coefficient of utility fees for these companies from 10 down to 7, as well as more involvement from representatives of those in the hospitality and catering sector when it comes to decision-making.

They want the state to reintroduce economic assistance measures to keep jobs and reimburse fixed costs, speed up the tragic state of Croatian bureaucracy, ie the process of issuing work permits for non-EU foreigners and further tax relief, in order to ensure higher incomes of employees working in the hospitality sector.

Namely, with the exception of large employers, wages in tourism and catering are still low, and many employers don't have room for raises due to the coronavirus pandemic, and workers are leaving en masse. Quality foreign workers aren't easy to come by either.

As it has been shown that workers from neighbouring countries manage and fit in much better among foreign workers than from distant cultures, the emphasis is on the search for workers in Croatia's immediate region, but the issue is that these European countries are not EEA/EU member states. This means that the paperwork and red rape is even more of a hassle for would-be employers.

The president of the Croatian Tourism Union, Eduard Andric, revealed that his union is negotiating with the Macedonian union, in order to bring Macedonian seasonal workers in an organised manner with less paperwork and fuss. According to current interest, there are about 5,000 to 10,000 of them.

At the same time, the Macedonians are willing and interested in their employers to give them some preparatory training, whether someone comes to them or they come to Croatia a little earlier for some training.

''Because as much as Macedonians are willing to work, we've had situations where they didn't know things like the names of certain drinks, the names of certain dishes, and we'd have to really educate them to make it better,'' pointed out Andric, adding that workers from that country are more desirable to work in Croatia than, for example, Filipinos, as their culture and language are closer, and communication is therefore far easier.

He revealed that they are also talking to Slovenes about a model to employ their workers in this country during the summer, and for them to go to Slovenia in the winter, which has more developed winter tourism. And this will be worked on in cooperation with the Slovenian trade union.

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