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.

For more, follow our business section.

Monday, 15 November 2021

Istrian Town Holds Record For Number of Primary School Students

November the 15th, 2021 - One Istrian town has set the record for the most primary school children in the Republic of Croatia in spite of the demographic crisis which has plagued Croatia for many years now.

As Morski writes, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), last year, almost two thousand fewer students were enrolled in primary schools across the country's cities than were enrolled back in 2019 - 225,789 students, and the year before that there 227,547 students. For this school year, the CBS hasn't yet published the data, but according to what can be seen from the eRudnik application, the number of students has again been reduced by about 2,000. Over the past eight years, only the City of Zagreb and Istria County have had an increase in the number of students, and last year only 38 cities recorded a positive trend, as reported by the portal mayor.hr/gradonacelnik.hr

With an increase of 36 students in the school year 2020/2021. Compared to the year before, Poreč is the leading city in Croatia in terms of the number of enrolled primary school students, which is an increase of 2.81 percent compared to the year before.

Today, the popular Istrian town of Porec is one of only a few cities in the entire country that can boast of positive demographic trends - from 2018 until today, the number of students in primary schools in that particular Istrian town has increased from 1538 to 1635 students. Porec responded to such positive demographic movements in a timely manner with investments, in order to provide all of Porec's children with a proper high quality education. From 2017 until today, two new primary schools have been built for a total of 700 students, along with additional halls and all other necessary infrastructure. Thanks to these investments, all children from this Istrian town attend their classes in one morning shift.

In order for Porec to remain a desirable place to live, grow up and gain a good education, the City of Porec awards the largest scholarships in the country for their students, co-finances the purchase of textbooks and other educational materials for students, co-finances primary school programmes above the typical standard with more than six million kuna per year, co-finances the transport of students studying in secondary schools in Porec and neighbouring areas for about 180 students, encourages learning Italian in Porec's secondary schools by financing teachers' salaries, and additionally provides funds for salaries to assistants in schools for students with disabilities.

On top of all of the above, this Istrian town co-finances the activities of the Centre for Community Services, which has an array of programmes aimed at children, families, the elderly and particularly vulnerable groups of people with with the aim of providing psychosocial and health support, as well as numerous other social assistance and support measures and additional measures for single-parent families.

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

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Experts at Catholic Social Week Warn About Croatia’s Demographic Crisis

ZAGREB, 24 Oct, 2021- The Sixth Croatian Social Week, which was organised by the Catholic Church in the country, on Saturday adopted a declaration which underscores that Croatia is in a deep demographic crisis and calls on the authorities to take measures to halt negative trends.

The declaration, adopted at the end of the event that brought together about 200 participants, warns about a demographic failure in Croatia due to the intensive decrease in the number of newborns and demographic ageing.

The document says that the country lacks a long-term strategy and a supra-party policy to address the issue.

The declaration recommends that the population strategies should encompass pro-natalist and moderate migration policies.

The participants in the event concluded that in the future Croatia would have to cope to a greater extent with the issues regarding migrations.

They also call for more attention to be paid to expats coming back to Croatia.

For more on lifestyle, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Pandemic Worsened Demographic Trends But Also Created New Opportunities

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - A conference on demographic challenges in Croatia and the EU after the pandemic brought together in Zagreb on Thursday members of the scientific community and government officials who said that COVID-19 had negatively affected demographic trends but also opened new opportunities on the labor market.

European Commissioner Vice President for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica said statistical data for 2020 indicated a continuing decline in the birth rate in the majority of member states.

However, COVID has also opened new opportunities, primarily in the labor market, with increasingly frequent remote work, said Šuica, concluding that digital and green transition had become key to success.

This has opened opportunities for Croatia, not just for its young people but in terms of the country's attractiveness as a place to live in for other European Union citizens, Šuica added.

If we want to keep young people in Croatia and make it more attractive, we have to invest in regional development, transport connectivity, and hyper-connectivity. The European recovery plan, she said, is a unique opportunity to come out of the pandemic stronger, greener, and more digitized.

Šuica noted that in slightly more than a year, demography has been imposed as the third unavoidable transition for the European Commission.

In Croatia, about 100 people are born a day while 150 die

The prime minister's special envoy and chief-of-staff, Zvonimir Frka Petešić, said that the conference needs to include all generations and that today's topic is important for Croatia which, along with another 15 member states, is faced with an aging population.

Croatia's population has been decreasing since 1991, and about 150 people die each day while about 100 are born, which is why Prime Minister Andrej Plenković stressed last year that the nation's demographic survival is a strategic issue, said Frka Petešić.

He recalled that after the European election in 2019, Croatia had asked that the EU's new strategic program include demography as a priority. During its presidency of the EU, Croatia led the process of adopting conclusions on demographic challenges which made it possible for future demographic measures to be financed from European funds.

How much the EU has aged can be seen in data which shows that in 1900 the population of today's EU countries accounted for 25% of the world population while today it accounts for only 5.5%, said Frka Petešić.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

First Phase of Croatian 2021 Census Begins on Monday

September the 11th, 2021 - The Croatian 2021 census is about to get underway, and as of Monday, you can fill in your details for yourself and other members of your household online via the e-Citizens (e-Gradjani) system.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a press conference entitled “CENSUS 21” from the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Central State Office for the Development of the Digital Society was held yesterday on the occasion of the beginning of the first digital Census of the Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Croatia 2021.

Namely, from September the 13th to October the 17th, 2021, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) will conduct the very first digital Census of the Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Croatia in two phases and in two ways, and residents of the country will be able to choose the census method they prefer. Namely, in the first phase, people will be able to fill in the Croatian 2021 census through the popular e-Citizens system.

The first phase of the Croatian 2021 census

The first phase of self-enumeration through the e-Citizens system will continue from September the 13th to the 26th, and the second phase of enumeration, when enumerators will go out onto the field, will last from September the 27th to October the 17th, according to the CBS.

Those running the process have called on all of Croatia's residents to please find a few minutes to enumerate themselves in the first phase of self-enumeration through the e-Citizens system.

During this period, they will have the opportunity to independently list themselves and all of the members of their household when it suits them best. One household member with a credential to use the e-Citizens platform is enough to list their household and all its members. After completing the Croatian 2021 census questionnaire and successfully completing and sending off the e-census, the respondent will receive a unique control code generated at the time of submission of the e-census, which is evidence of having already gone through the process online, independently.

The control code should then be written down on paper, photographed or printed and saved until the second phase of the Croatian 2011 census (field census) takes place, so that the respondent can give the control code to the enumerator to control the scope of the census.

One e-Citizens credential is enough for the whole household

You can also list your elderly relatives (parents, grandparents or someone else) who live in another household with their credentials, the CBS points out. The rule in e-enumeration is that one household is enumerated with one credential.

The census is based on a statement

According to the Law on Official Statistics, all data collected during the Croatian 2021 census is secret and will be used exclusively for statistical purposes, in other words, the census is not the basis for exercising any rights or obligations, the Central Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 3 September 2021

Croatian Census in Two Weeks, Fines for Those Who Refuse to Partake

September the 3rd, 2021 - The Croatian census is due to be carried out in two weeks, and every single resident of Croatia needs to partake. If you refuse to do so, a fine of between 2,000 and 5,000 kuna could be issued to you.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, every inhabitant single legal resident of the Republic of Croatia is subject to the Croatian Census Act, according to which every person who refuses to be enumerated faces a fine of two to five thousand kuna.

Lidija Brkovic, the director of the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), spoke for local portal Glas Slavonije about the Croatian census, which is set to begin in two weeks following a coronavirus-induced delay earlier on in the year.

"The Croatian census is based on an individual statement, and the enumerator has no right to ask for documents or check the answers that a person gives. Every resident of Croatia is subject to is the Act on the Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Croatia in 2021, which provides for the issuing of fines from 2,000 to 5,000 kuna for a misdemeanor of a natural person if they refuse to provide their data for the census. People can have full confidence in the Central Bureau of Statistics because all the data collected by the Bureau remains an official secret,'' assured Brkovic.

Two phases of the 2021 Croatian census - online and offline

The Croatian census will be conducted in two phases - the first will be a ''self-census'' of residents online through the e-Citizens (e-Gradjani) system, followed by a field census of those who didn't register online. The fieldwork begins on September the 27th and will run through until October the 17th, 2021.

“The first phase of self-enumeration through the e-Citizens system will last from September the 13th to the 26th, and just one person in the household who uses the system is enough and will be able to enumerate all members of their household. If more than one household member uses the e-Citizens system, it still must only be one person listing all of the household members,'' said Brkovic.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Croatian Census Coming, Refusal to Participate Could Result in Fine

August the 12th, 2021 - The Croatian census is set to begin in the surprisingly short time of just three weeks. With no campaign to get people's attention to speak of, there are questions as to how it will go being posed.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, former Central Bureau of Statistics' director Marko Kristof spoke for N1 about the upcoming Croatian census, the largest project of the Central Bureau of Statistics that is conducted every ten years.

"This is the most demanding statistical survey and the largest activity of any statistical office. Its a huge job and a great methodological and communication challenge,'' warned Kristof, adding that this year's Croatian census is even more demanding because the data from different sources will all be combined. Namely, in addition to contacting residents in the field, residents will be able to fill in the censues themselves through the popular e-Citizens (e-Gradjani) system.

“Filling in the Croatian census through the e-citizens system is a transition to the complete abolition of the census. Modern countries no longer conduct the census by going door to door,'' Kristof stated, adding that he believes this will be a very good step forward.

There are three weeks left until the Croatian census starts being carried out, and Kristof points out that not much information about it is even known yet - no campaign has been conducted to explain to residents what the census is for and that the key thing is to enumerate people in their usual places of residence. He hopes, he says, that things in this regard will be done in a proper and timely manner.

As for the date itself, he says it's good that the reference date has been moved from the traditional March the 31st, when the epidemic was much stronger than it is now. "The second thing is that if the census had been conducted then, it would have been too politicised,'' he explained.

He stated that the biggest challenge in any census is to determine the permanent population: ''When you have several different choices, it's an additional challenge. There's a list of households and dwellings, not just a list of people. The key thing is whether the person was staying in the place where he/she was listed at the reference moment.

"There's a consensus among demographers that there will be less than four million of us"

Kristof says it is necessary to enumerate the entire population and if a person refuses to participate, there is a possibility of punishment. but he isn't at all sure how that could ever be implemented.

He expects the number of Croatian residents to be smaller. "There's a consensus among demographers that there will be less than four million residents of Croatia. The population will be the biggest challenge. We'll find out how many people are listed, but when it comes to the exact number of residents, we'll need to wait a while. European regulations say the official results should come two years after the census is carried out. We could get the final results at the end of 2022,'' he said.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

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