Wednesday, 27 March 2019

To Work or Not to Work: Almost Half of Croatia Economically Inactive?

As Novac/Sanja Stapic/Slobodna Dalmacija writes on the 27th of March, 2019, why exactly are the powers that be in Croatia constantly talking about importing workers from around the world if they can be found among students and retired people already here? This is a valid question that is increasingly being put forward by Croatian employers, and it could bring results. A new law has put the spring back in the step of many, and riled others, as it allows retirees to be employed for four hours a day, and still retain all of their rights to their retirement and pensions.

It was in this exact manner that Spar Croatia launched an employment program for retired individuals which lasts for four hours, allowing them continued full access to their retirement benefits and offer a flexible employment schedule. Konzum followed the same path not long after, and this giant company is announcing in the media that they're on the lookout for new people, turning to students and also to retired people to whom they're offering part-time jobs, with pleasant and flexible working hours as extra bait.

With regard to the typical pension payout per month, and also given the fact that there are a great many people among the population who haven't yet ''served'' their full working lives and are perfectly healthy and capable of doing so, the average pension stands at 3,665 kuna, so it comes as no real surprise that more than 5,200 retirees are currently working part-time jobs. There will likely be even more joining them as time goes on.

Croatia boasts (alright, maybe that isn't the right word here) a large portion of the populace who don't work, haven't actually registered themselves as unemployed, aren't actually looking for work, and are between the ages of 16 to 64. At the end of September last year, according to a survey taken by the State Bureau of Statistics, an extremely concerning figure of 48.4 percent of Croatia's working-age population was economically inactive. This means that there are more economically inactive people in a normal state of health and who are perfectly capable of working than there are employed persons in Croatia. Of course, those working ''on the black'' or accepting cash in hand jobs, of which there are a great many, are more difficult to account for in this instance.

The survey carried out by the State Bureau of Statistics showed that out of all of the economically inactive persons in the country, 121,000 of those inactive people do want to work, but they aren't actively seeking employment, while 1.57 million don't want to work because of school, their age, illness and various other similar reasons. These other reasons may also include the desire to stay home to bring up their kids, but a large number do earn a living of some sort owing to the so-called grey economy.

For a country like the Republic of Croatia, in which 4.1 million people were registered as living according to the estimates of domestic statistics, 1.7 million inactive people is a very large number of people living their lives almost entirely outside the world of work, at least officially.

Economist Dr. Damir Novotny points out that Croatia currently doesn't have enough of a workforce in any given sector, which in one part is the result of the entirely wrong direction of the country's social policy and in another part, owing to the opening up of the European labour market for Croatian citizens.

''There is clear research on the fact that those who are able to work are excluded from labour market. It's one of the major problems and mistakes of [Croatian] governments over the past 10 to 15 years. We have a problem with the grey economy, we know it's big and many who are formally [registered as] unemployed aren't actually unemployed in reality. Thirdly, but no less significant, is the opening up of the labour market to the part of the working-active population who have a middle to high level of education, who are extremely easily integrated into the European labour market. We have these complex variables in the function of reducing working-active citizens, and on the other hand we don't have enough immigration policies,'' explained Dr. Novotny for Slobodna Dalmacija.

Employers, encouraged by the fact that today retirees can be hired as part-time workers, have decided to try to solve their problems in such a manner. Workers need them, and last year's quota for the import of foreign workers amounted to over 30,000 work permits, and this year that number could be considerably higher, and we already know that the tourism sector, otherwise Croatia's strongest sector, will be missing about 15,000 skilled workers.

The statistics show that the problem will become even worse as time goes on.

Because of the decline in Croatia's overall population and extremely adverse demographic trends, the number of working-age population is continuing to decrease, and back in September last year, there were just 3.5 million working people in the country, which is 110,000 less people than there were back at the beginning of 2010. During that period, the number of economically active people fell by 102,000 people to 1.82 million, the number of those registered as unemployed was reduced by 19,000 to 1.69 million, and so the negative trend continued.

Economists warn that Croatia will need a workforce, it also needs to work hard to activate the inactive population, the long-term unemployed, younger retirees and even people with certain disabilities. Some experts, such as Dr. Danijela Nestić and Ivo Tomić from the Zagreb Institute of Economics, have calculated that Croatia can increase its overall employment levels in only a relatively small manner, even it it managed to employ all the unemployed people and part of the economically inactive people who don't work for family reasons or because they're discouraged in their job searches.

Discouragingly, Croatia is the European ''champion'' with the most retired people who are still of working age, with the most people saying that they're somehow incapable, or too sick to work.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle and business pages for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Sanja Stapic for Slobodna Dalmacija

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Croatian Demographic Crisis Leaves Room for Surprising Exceptions

One might naturally expect continental Croatian counties, which aside from the capital of Zagreb tend to be less developed owing to the fact that Croatia's main economic branch of tourism still tends to largely bypass these areas, to boast the highest number of residents who have gone abroad. While this tends to be the case, and Slavonia unsurprisingly tops the list, the causes for such movement aren't necessarily what you might expect them to be, and there are some rather surprising exceptions...

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of March, 2019, the mass exodus from Croatia abroad is in direct correlation with the economic strength of a particular part of the country, but the actual economic strength (or weakness) of a particular region doesn't necessarily result in the mass emigration of the local population from individual less developed parts of Croatia.

These trends have been highlighted by data taken from the Central Bureau of Statistics, which in turn correlates GDP per capita in a given county with the number of people who have gone abroad. Of course, GDP per capita per county isn't fully accurate, perhaps the more accurate summonses for this topic are the average wage and the percentage of those registered as employed, but the data still clearly shows how developed each Croatian county is at the given time, Novi list writes.

When it comes to GDP per capita per county, Novi list has taken the recently published data from the Central Bureau of Statistics for 2016 and looked at the number of persons who went abroad, ie, the population of a county, and the number of inhabitants in the county for 2016 and 2017. Moving abroad appears to have intensified back in 2017, when 47,352 people left the country, up from 36,436 people in 2016.

In 2016, which is the first year in which Novi list's journalists looked into, no more than two or more percent of the population moved abroad from any county. Most of these people were from Požega-Slavonia (1.72 percent) and Vukovar-Srijem (1.67 percent), while in the following year of 2017, three counties saw that number rise above two percent (Sisak-Moslavina, Brod-Posavina, Požega-Slavonia) and one, Vukovar-Srijem, was over three percent.

At the top of the emigration list unsurprisingly lie less developed, poorer Croatian counties. Back in 2017, the largest number of those going abroad was recorded in Vukovar-Srijem County, followed by Brod-Posavina, and Požega-Slavonia, in fourth place came Sisak-Moslavina County. All of the above mentioned Croatian counties are located in continental Croatia, which is still very much bypassed by the country's main economic sector - tourism.

Vukovar-Srijem County recorded a dramatic rise in those leaving to go abroad in only one year, from 1.67 percent to 3.2 percent of the population.

However, in spite of these negative demographic trends, it appears that GDP per capita doesn't actually have to be the cause of the large-scale ''outflow'' of persons abroad, as is shown by Krapina-Zagorje. In both years, 2016 and 2017, this Croatian county recorded the least amount of persons going abroad. The situation is similar with Bjelovar-Bilogora County, yet another continental county in which one might naturally expect the Croatian demographic crisis to bite hardest.

Krapina-Zagorje County is specific to something else, too, along with the southern Dalmatian Dubrovnik-Neretva County, it is the only Croatian county in which the number of those who left to go abroad was lower in 2017 than it was back in 2016.

The research concludes however that the largest number of persons who have left Croatian soil to go abroad come from Slavonia, the least are from Istria, Zagreb, and Rijeka.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Lack of Workforce Obstacle to Continued Development of Croatia

As Adriano Milovan/Novac.hr writes on the 4th of March, 2019, the situation on the Croatian labour market is all the more alarming: despite the significant number of registered unemployed people, there are numerous activities for which a labour force must be imported. With regard to the further trends on the labour market, as well as the challenges that Croatia is facing in terms of a digital revolution, Novac sat down and talked to the leading man of the consulting house of the EC in Croatia, Berislav Horvat. Berislav Horvat has good knowledge of the trends on the labour market, as well as on entrepreneurial scenes across Croatia.

We're approaching the 6th anniversary of EU membership and the 28th anniversary of independence. While we have achieved our main political goals as a country, it's a general belief that we've left it a bit late when coming up with an economic plan. How do you assess the current development of entrepreneurship in Croatia, especially compared to the countries we're usually compared to?

Unfortunately, we have not yet completed the transition process. On the other hand, our entrepreneurs don't yet enjoy the status in our society that they enjoy in other transition countries. In our country, entrepreneurs are still looked at with skepticism, they're still the black sheep in a way, and realistically, they don't deserve such a status. The EC has therefore launched the ''EC entrepreneur of the year'' program, through which we want to show that there are also successful entrepreneurial stories in Croatia.

I personally think that the situation in Croatia and the attitude towards entrepreneurs in the last five years has changed significantly. In that sense, it's enough to say that five years ago in Croatia, practically nobody spoke about startups, funding, and so on. Moreover, these terms weren't even being used. Nowadays, the situation is different: we're talking about that, we look at who started a startup, who invested what, what entrepreneurial incubator was used and the like... So, the focus of the public is slowly changing and turning towards entrepreneurship, but it's not as fast as we'd like it to be.

Exactly. We do have all this Croatia today, but there's still very little of it. Even the many start-up companies belong to ''emergency entrepreneurship'', ie, they're not a real statement of the desire to start a business in order to engage in entrepreneurship, but are driven for the sake of employment...

I think there's far more entrepreneurship in Croatia than we can see. Media attention loves to highlight the negatives and it's difficult for some of the entrepreneurs to become a star in such a situation.

In Estonia, for example, it's different. Their stars were also once football players, athletes, and starlets, but they systematically worked to change that. Today, after twenty or more years, Estonia's main stars are entrepreneurs, which, of course, doesn't mean that their media doesn't highlight lifestyle [sections] and that jet set type people aren't stars. There's enough space for everyone.

But we have not yet reached that level. In our public domain, the best still don't dominate [the scene], those who have created something from nothing and succeeded in life with their own work and effort. We've gone too deeply into the negativity and now we can't get out of it, even in the conditions that in recent years the situation with the economy is much better, as is evidenced by the growth in income and profit of companies. That's why we have the impression that everything is bad, and that's just not the case. You can be successful in Croatia.

When you talk to clients, especially those from overseas who want to invest and start a business here, what do they complain about most?

The main problem over the last few years is the lack of workforce. Mass emigration from Croatia resulted in a shortage of workers. Before that, you could feel a lack of workforce in tourism, hospitality and construction, and now that's the case in almost all sectors. This will surely be a major obstacle to the further development of Croatia. An example is the construction industry, which even for a secure job constructing something, you can no longer find people to do it.

Once, our main problem was unemployment, and now it's a shortage of workers. According to some estimates, even among those who are officially registered as unemployed, there are only actually 10,000 to 15,000 who really are unemployed, while others have remained registered as such for other reasons.

On the other hand, this year we've got a quota of 65,000 foreign workers we can import. This is the record for now, and it's quite certain that this quota, and thus the number of foreign workers in Croatia will grow in the next few years.

Apart from tourism and construction, which sectors lack a workforce the most?

Definitely the IT sector. Practically every IT company I know would hire 100 developers tomorrow because there's a lot of work. Most of them work on foreign markets, where the demand is higher than the supply.

Do you expect bigger waves of emigration from Croatia? Let us not forget that next year the doors of to the Austrian labour market, the last in the EU [to keep restrictions on Croatian workers] will open...

Emigration will still continue. True, Austria could attract a part of our workforce because it's close and workers will be able to come and go virtually from weekend to weekend. So, emigration will continue, but there will be returns, especially as salaries in Croatia are rising. Estimates for the future are difficult to give, but it's clear that the shortage of workforce will remain the number one issue for Croatia in the next few years.

How do we solve the problem of the lack of workforce?

We will have to turn to the import of labour, in the long term. But let's not forget that because of this shortage of labour in Croatia, there's a rise in wages, which means that some of the Croats who have left will come back in time. They will simply begin to calculate whether it's worth living abroad or here. Let's be realistic, many of our emigrants, especially those who are paid less, don't live in the best conditions in the countries they've moved to, so we already have cases where people are returning. The salary increase in Croatia will bring back some of those who left the country.

There is also the problem of education, the programs of which should be adapted to the needs of the labour market, just as enrollment quotas should be.

What could the state do to reduce emigration and boost returns?

The state could intervene in tax policy measures. Further reductions in personal income tax and the abolition of the highest tax rate would greatly help people increase their net salaries. This would lead to less people leaving and some former emigrants returning.

But, how usefeul are such efforts when taking into account the state of public finances, especially the pension and health system?

These measures can be implemented, but the only way to do that is to reduce the spending of the state, on both a central and a local level. This implies reforms. There is also a need to increase the base of people who pay taxes, or more people bring to the labour market.

Now the situation is almost ideal for some action to be taken: in the real sector there is a lack of people, and in the public there is a surplus of employees. The economy is growing, and the government is stable, so there should not be many problems and the solution is obvious. So, we just have to implement the reforms we're talking about. This is a historical moment that this government has and it must use it.

The world is undergoing a new digital revolution, but we're lagging behind. Moreover, we're still dealing with ''classic'' industries. What are the perspectives open to us?

Digitisation opens up a large area, and a large number of companies that are opening in Croatia are IT companies, so we can't say that we're not following trends in the digital world. Existing, already established Croatian companies invest heavily in digitisation. For many Croatian companies, the EC helps in the introduction of software robotisation. While, for example, Gideon Brothers produced real autonomous robots, which instead of forklifts drive pallets by warehouse, and our domestic companies, such as Atlantica, Orbica and Tokić, are already piloting projects with this new technology. Or, let's say, Mate Rimac, our EC entrepreneur of the year, who, besides producing cars, works hard on the development of the use of digital technologies, and all this is happening in Croatia.

You are in contact with investors. What is the current interest in Croatia from investors?

We are a world leader in auditing and consulting services. We have 270,000 employees worldwide, and in Croatia there are more than 220. Among our clients, we have a lot of investors who want to invest here, especially private equity funds. Still, the problem is that they are looking for big investments, those of 20 or 30 million euros, and there aren't many like that in Croatia. In the case of Croatia, it would probably have helped us to have venture capital funds, which would aid startups. Otherwise, HBOR and EIF have recently launched a venture capital program, which is good for entrepreneurship development in Croatia, but, it's also necessary to have a network of business angels, venture capital funds and private equity funds, so that the system can accommodate and enable funding at all stages of entrepreneurship development.

How does the digital revolution reflect on the EC?

The EC is doing a lot of work on digitalisation. We have digitised our internal talent management system and now we have ''click'' solutions. Numerous processes have been robotised. One digital marketing company joined us last year, so now we have a rounded service - from tips to accessing a buyer, to the performance of the app or website. Customers want less advice, they're now seeking complete solutions, and we can offer them that now. This also allows us to work on innovations. We're also investing hundreds of millions of dollars in audit tools and technology so we can carry out EC digital audits worldwide. I can say that a lot has changed since I started doing this job sixteen years ago!

Make sureto stay up to date by following our dedicated business page.

 

Click here for the original article/interview by Adriano Milovan for Novac.hr/Jutarnji

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

More People Use Croatian Health System Than Actually Live in Croatia?

As Croatia's increasingly alarming negative demographic trend tightens its grip over the country and its economy, there seems to be more people insured by the Croatian health system (HZZO) than actually live and work here...

As Index/Marko Repecki writes on the 26th of February, 2019, due to the negative demographic trends and a fairly low birth rate, Croatia has now worryingly fallen below four million residents, according to the estimates of demographers, but at the same time, there are miraculously 4,145,169 persons who have Croatian Health Insurance from HZZO.

This means that more people are apparently entitled to Croatian health insurance than are actually really living in Croatia. This phenomenon is not entirely new, because when we look at some of the data for the previous years, it can be seen that there are approximately between 90 and 120 thousand people who seem to be insured with HZZO, therefore using the services of the Croatian health system, than actually live here.

Who exactly are these people who have HZZO health insurance and don't live in Croatia?

Index readily asked HZZO to explain just how this difference of Croatian health system users came about, and they answered that there are persons who are still considered as insured persons in Croatia, although they don't actually live here.

"On the 31st of January, 2019. 4,145,169 insured persons were registered in the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO). Please note that in some cases the person is still considered to be an insured person, even though they don't live Croatia. As an example, we include: active Croatian insured persons with residence in another EU member state (such as an actively insured Croat who lives in Slovenia), beneficiaries of Croatian pensions who have moved to the territory of another [EU] member state, and our delegates doing temporary work in another member state (a worker whom a Croatian employer sent for temporary employment in, for example, Germany). In all these cases, it regards persons who remain insured persons of HZZO, but they also enjoy the right to health care in the territory of other member states, in accordance with EU regulations on the coordination of the social security system,'' HZZO's statement said.

Index also sought further clarification on who is actually considered an actively insured person, and they got the following answer:

"An active insured is a person who is employed and pays contributions for compulsory health insurance, which are paid by their employer. Such insured persons do not pay health insurance contributions in the country where they live, but their contributions are paid in the country where they work. A person can't be insured in two EU member states, but is insured in the country in which they work, and in the territory of the other [member] state in which they're living, they have the right to full healthcare, just like all of the other persons with health insurance in that [member] state, on the basis of having health insurance in their country of work. For example, an actively insured person works in Croatia and lives in Slovenia, he is then entitled to full health care on the territory of Slovenia, at the expense of the Croatian Health Insurance Institute,'' HZZO replied.

The head of the Lipa Association (Udruga Lipa): "We pay 23 billion kuna every year for healthcare, and the system is breaking down"

145,000 people seems a huge number if we're talking about people who live abroad, yet work in Croatia, or are retirees with a Croatian pension yet live in another EU member state. Index asked the Lipa Association for a comment:

''We at the Lipa Association don't know why HZZO has a higher number of insured persons than the population of Croatia according to DZS and to demographers,'' said Lipa's Zoran Löw, but he referred generally to the catastrophic state of healthcare. Although Croatian workers to pay out a sum of money for access to state healthcare, the Croatian Health Insurance Institute, Croatia's chief health system funder, spends around 23 billion kuna annually, in five years, that comes to a huge amount of 115 billion kuna. We're witnessing the complete disintegration of the system where people literally die on roads, and examinations are being waited for for months, and in some cases, for years.

Löw added that they forwarded an open letter to Milan Kujundžić, the Croatian Health Minister back in 2017, warning of the need to include private institutions in the state's health system.

"In many EU countries, private institutions providing health services are integrated into the system so that they compete equally for jobs funded from the public system. Let's just list some: the Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Germany... And this is not just about simpler institutions such as labs or family medicine, the're also serious clinics. In this way, it introduces some healthy market competition and the whole system becomes more agile and financially viable. Unfortunately, in Croatia, this approach is viewed as the privatisation of the healthcare system. This government and its health minister obviously don't have the courage to come out with such an initiative and stand behind it,'' they stated from Lipa.

Make sure to stay up to date with news on the Croatian health system and much, much more by following our dedicated lifestyle page.

 

Click here for the original article by Marko Repecki on Index.hr

Monday, 28 January 2019

Education on EU Projects for Croatian Students Advantageous for Job Market

Concrete steps are being made to better acquaint Croatia's students with the importance of knowledge about EU projects, knowledge which will be advantageous on the labour market.

As Lucija Spiljak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 27th of January, 2019, representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds and the Faculty of Economics of the University of Zagreb signed a cooperation agreement worth three million kuna, which will enable students to acquire skills and knowledge in the field of EU funds for professional practice.

This is a project that has been being discussed in the aforementioned ministry for a long time, and now partnerships through signing this contract have been formalised by the dean of this higher education institution, Jurica Pavičić, and Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds, Gabrijela Žalac. Another partner of the project is the Department of Economics of the University of Zadar, whose representatives will subsequently sign the same contract.

"It's a great pleasure for our students to have the opportunity to improve themselves in something that is important for them, their careers, and to their future employers. Students have recognised the importance of knowledge about EU funds and have shown great interest in this area, aware that this will be an important component when they go out to look for a job. We're glad that we've partnered with the Ministry and that the University of Zadar is ready to join in with this project,'' said the Dean.

The cooperation agreement also concerns the strengthening of the Regional Development Academy, which has been in existence for many years within the ministry and cooperates with the University of Zagreb and faculties at the project level, in the interest of enhancing cooperation on the issue of student education, which is the backbone of regional development and the management of EU structural and investment funds.

"We want to strengthen our capacities at all levels so that through the professional knowledge and mentoring of our people in the Ministry of Economics, students from Zagreb and Zadar are able to train for the labour market. Our students have a decisive role in the dynamics of fundraising and the socio-economic progress of the coming period. The aim is to build a strategic partnership with healthcare institutions in the Republic of Croatia. We've been a full member of the EU for five and a half years and I think it's now time to allow students to acquire knowledge and skills in the area of ​​EU funds management and their use,'' said the minister, adding that European structural and investment funds make up 80 percent of public investments in the Republic of Croatia.

"Since we're the youngest member state of the EU, we're still at the beginning. This seven-year financial period, when we'll use European funds for the very first time, will certainly be a great experience for what follows in 2021,'' said Žalac, mentioning that MRRFEU and the Central Finance and Contracting Agency for EU Programs and Projects conducted research with results which show that there are 2700 experts missing in Croatia for the field of implementing EU projects.

"Therefore, we'd like to enable our students of economic orientation to provide professional practice with the help of EU funds, to provide new useful facilities for building a business career, with additional values ​​that strengthen their competence on the labour market," added Minister Žalac before thanking everyone who participated in the implementation process of this project.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for more information on EU projects and much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Lucija Spiljak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Varteks: Varaždin Textile Giant Goes From Strength to Strength

The Varaždin-based Croatian company Varteks has been producing dresses, coats, jackets and other clothing for specialised purposes, including uniforms for the Croatian Army, the police and the like for 101 years now.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 23rd of January, 2019, in three production plants in a complex of red brick buildings in the centre of Varaždin, several hundred workers are working daily in one shift on quality garment collections. In Varaždin's Varteks, 24sata journalists were welcomed and hosted by Nenad Bakić, president of Varteks' administration. He took them through all three production facilities. That day, designers who came to Varteks presented Bakić and his associates the new women's collection - business elegance.

''First, we do prototypes of the clothing, then after consultations they go off for additional finishing should that be necessary. After that, we make a collector's sample, a hand-made version that is produced in a small number of copies. If there are no more changes to be made, we make and launch the product,'' explained Bakić. Currently, Varteks is launching its latest elegant collection made with younger people in mind, called Varteks Young.

''We can split production into several phases. Everything begins with the tailor, from the threading and onwards. There, the machine cutter does almost everything itself according to the instructions on the screen. After that, sewing begins. All the parts from the cutter are picked up and people connect them in smaller segments. Then everything is shifted into the assembly, the middle part of production, where some segments are assembled and come to the end with finishing and the final ironing. After that, what's most important to us is quality control. If everything is fine, the goods are sent to the warehouse and are made ready for shipping, to our stores or to our customers,'' explained Miljenko Vidaček, production manager at Varteks. He adds that it takes about four hours to make a suit.

Varteks produces a very wide range of merchandise, its production manager emphasises the fact that Varteks is among the most flexible companies in this part of Europe as a whole.

''We were coming to the end, pre-bankruptcy. We're incredibly grateful to Mr. Bakić for the fact that we're still here,'' Varteks' grateful employees conclude.

For more information on Croatian companies, products and services, as well as doing business in Croatia and the overall business and investment climate, follow our dedicated business page.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Umag, Belišće, Vrlika and Obrovac Ensure Free Kindergarten

Four Croatian cities are trying to make it easier at least financially for parents when it comes to caring for their children. Umag, Belišće, Vrlika and Obrovac are the only Croatian towns to ensure free kindergarten for kids, removing at least one worry from the heads of their parents.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 21st of January, 2019, in addition to employment, decent salaries and a resolved housing issue for young families, a key prerequisite for changing the negative demographic picture in the Republic of Croatia is the development of a network of nurseries and kindergartens which are made readily available to parents in need of them.

The Croatian towns in which parents, when it comes to kindergartens, have at least the financial side of things taken care of for them are Umag, Belišće, Vrlika and Obrovac. These towns are, as previously mentioned, the only four towns in the whole of Croatia that provide free kindergartens for all their children, as was reported by the portal Gradonacelnik.hr.

Until just a few days ago, there were only three towns offering such measures - Umag, Vrlika and Obrovac, and now they have been joined by Belišće, whose administration, headed by Dinka Burić, recently lowered the prices of kindergartens from 410 to 300 kuna. Upon the further analysis of budget items and revenues, they have since realised that they can provide an additional 700,000 kuna, giving parents in the area completely free kindergartens for their kids.

Although a formal decision is still yet to be made on the 28th of January, the move has been effective since January the 1st, meaning that the parents who have children needing kindergartens in Belišće no longer have to think about payments of any kind.

Thanks to European Unoon tenders and intensified local self-government activities in project preparation, nearly 200 new kindergartens are being prepared or constructed in their various different stages across the Republic of Croatia, with lack of capacity and the unavailability of accommodation becoming less and less of a problem.

Give our dedicated lifestyle  page a follow for more on Croatia's demographic problem, and to stay up to date with other Croatian towns and cities which follow in the footsteps of Umag, Obrovac, Vrlika and Belišće.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Plitvice Lakes Municipality Raises Sum for Parents of Newborns

As the Croatian demographic crisis continues, many Croatian towns, cities and municipalities have suggested and enforced their own measures to encourage people not only to stay where they are, but to bring new life into the country. What better way to do that than offer cash for each newborn baby? Plitvice Lakes Municipality (Općina Plitvička Jezera) has raised its amount by 2,000 kuna.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 11th of January, 2019, the right to a one-time cash sum is realised when at least one of the parents of a newborn child has a permanent place of residence in the area of ​​the Plitvice Lakes Municipality.

This very welcome news comes from the Plitvice Lakes Municipality itself and as Likaclub.eu writes, the amount of one-off cash sums paid directly by the Plitvice Lakes Municipality to the parents of newborn children from the area covered by that municipality has now been increased.

The amount given to new parents in the Plitvice Lakes Municipality has so far been 3,000 kuna for the first-born child, and then 500 kuna more for each child after that.

By the decision of Mayor Ante Kovač on January the 2nd, 2019, the Plitvice Lakes Municipality will now pay parents a sum of 5,000 kuna for every newborn this year, which is 2,000 kuna more than it has been so far.

The birth of the second child will see new parents receive 5,500 kuna, while for the third newborn child, the parents have the right to assistance in the amount of 6,000 kuna, or for each subsequent child born, 500 kuna more.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated lifestyle and politics pages for more on the Croatian demographic crisis and the measures being put in place by towns, cities and municipalities across the country to help combat the continuing negative effects.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Croatian Demographic Crisis: Documenting Šibenik's Losses

The Croatian demographic crisis is something that is making all the headlines for all the wrong reasons of late, but just how ''new'' is this negative and concerning trend? It would appear that the tap has been trickling for a great number of years. The popular historic Dalmatian city of Šibenik is an unlikely but excellent example of this.

As SibenikIN writes on the 8th of January, 2019, in the face of the Croatian demographic crisis, in his latest blog post, Ivo Jakovljević has written about the gradual reduction of the Šibenik population since the beginning of the Homeland War, the largest reduction caused by the plague back in 1649. All this, as Jakovljević writes in his blog post, has influenced Šibenik's age and education composition with long-term consequences, even in terms of the local surname composition.

The largest demographic changes in 300 years occurred in the area of ​​Šibenik-Knin County during the Homeland War between the years 1991-1995 this was highlighted by the population census taken in 1991, and then again in 2001. Not only did the total number of inhabitants decrease significantly (in part due to deaths on both the Croatian and the Serbian side, and mainly in the face of forced migration), but there were also changes in many other areas, too.

As opposed to the economy being the main driving force for the negative trends the country is experiencing today, war migrations played a huge role in the Croatian demographic crisis back then. During the Homeland War, from the summer of 1991 onwards, a lot of movement could be witnessed. These displaced people were predominantly Croats, and also some Serbs who didn't agree with Greater Serbian politics. Individuals and families were expelled from their places of residence in many cases during the war, and many of these people moved to Šibenik and the unoccupied areas of Šibenik-Knin County, while a smaller number went abroad.

As of mid-1992, amid the continual spread of the war in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, many refugees, made up mainly of Croats and Bosnians, also arrived in the wider Šibenik area. At the beginning of August 1995, a significant number of Serbs left not only Šibenik-Knin County but Croatia as a whole, heading generally in the direction of the Banja Luka area and towards Belgrade, and from those areas they were displaced in all directions, with some even heading towards the north of Kosovo.

Hundreds of them (mostly younger, more mobile and better educated people) then continued moving onwards to Central Europe, with some of them even heading much further afield, outside of Europe to Canada and Australia. During the time of the pre-war crisis in Kosovo, after 1995, many people from Janjevo arrived in the village of Kistanje, and later settled and declared themselves as Catholics.

At the end of this pattern of deep demographic shock, the total number of inhabitants in Šibenik-Knin County during the period between 1991 to 2001 decreased from 152,125 to just 109,799. According to the latest estimates by the Central Bureau of Statistics (due to the chronic low birth rate and the somewhat new trend of economic emigration - predominantly to Zagreb, Germany, and Ireland) in 2019, there may be less than 100,000 in total.

Thus, from 1991 to 2001 the total number of inhabitants in the aforementioned county decreased by 42,326 persons - almost one third! Then, from 2001 to 2019, by about ten thousand. Among the emigrants from 1991 to 2001, almost three quarters (or 74 percent of them) were Serbs.

In Šibenik-Knin County, Serbs once made up as much as 40.7 percent of the population. Just ten years later, Serbs were no longer a majority in any one of the counties. This trend continued, and in 2011, the number of Serbs in the county decreased from 60,800 in 1991 to 11,518 in 2011, and in Šibenik, there were 1,434 Serbs recorded in 2011. On the other side of that same medal, the number of Croats in the total composition the population in the county increased from 58.42 percent in 1991, to 83.80 percent in 2001, and then to 85 percent in 2011.

The same trend changed the confessional composition of Šibenik-Knin County. The number of Catholics increased from 54.9 percent in 1991 to 82.8 percent in 2001, while the share of those of the Orthodox faith decreased from 38.02 to 7.31 percent.

The long-term consequences of war victims, forced and voluntary emigrations, and war and transitional economic damage in the broader Šibenik hinterland, right up to Drniš and Knin, have resulted in some significant changes in the area's surname structure, which - judging from both from the 2001 census and from the much later 2011 census, has seen the apparent disappearance of a subset of traditional Croatian and Serbian surnames from the Šibenik hinterland.

Want to find out more about the Croatian demographic crisis and much more? Give our dedicated lifestyle and politics pages a follow.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Croatian Employers Already Searching for Staff and Promising Higher Wages

The demographic has had numerous repercussions on Croatian society as a whole, and a lack of adequate or qualified labour force for Croatian employers is perhaps the most hard hit sector of them all. But just how is the tourism sector doing?

The paradoxical society which somehow manages to exist despite all and any circumstance in Croatia is that there is no work for a lot of people, while on the other hand there is a lot of work on offer but nobody to actually do it.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 5th of January, 2019, from November 2018 to February 2019, HZZ is conducting a survey among Croatia's unemployed population on their intentions and their readiness to work along the coast in various tourist destinations.

Croatian employers, more specifically hoteliers from numerous tourist resorts up and down the Croatian coast are searching out potential seasonal staff from continental Croatia earlier and earlier with each passing year, with their sights set on the overlooked eastern Croatia in particular. Thus, HZZ's Vinkovci-based regional office has already organised as many as eight employer visits for the purpose of seeking seasonal workers for 2019's upcoming tourist season this summer.

In order to better respond to the demands of Croatian employers and to better coordinate the job supply with the demand, HZZ's aforementioned survey focused primarily on how Croatia's unemployed population feel about working on the coast should the opportunity be offered to them.

The day of jobs in tourism for the Slavonian counties is set to be held on January the 18th in Osijek, and HZZ's Vinkovci branch office is organising transport on the day for all those interested, Glas Slavonije writes.

As of now, it is unofficially known that Croatian employers are willing to offer higher salaries, raising them by 10 to 20 percent for chefs, waiters and confectioners, with almost all potential job offers including not only free accommodation, but free food for the duration of the work too.

In the past year, from January to September, the most sought after were employees chefs, assistant chefs, waiters, cleaners, receptionists, people to work in shops, and other occupations in the area of ​​accommodation and food preparation and service, as well as the wholesale and retail trade.

In that period, there was a pressing need for 23,652 seasonal workers in Croatia, and a little less, 22,144, were actually employed during that time, which indicates that Croatia's lack of seasonal workers is not significant or particularly worrying, yet.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated lifestyle and business pages for more information on Croatian employers and much more.

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