Monday, 27 February 2023

From Chefs to Waiters - Hunt for Croatian Seasonal Employees Begins

February the 27th, 2023 - As is the case every year with this country's seasonal employment curse, the hunt for Croatian seasonal employees is now on as we approach Easter. Here are the professions would-be employers are seeking staff for.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, snow might have fallen (at least here in Zagreb), Easter is gradually approaching and there are more and more ads appearing as potential employers seek out Croatian seasonal employees for summer 2023. The Employment Office in Rijeka is looking for 670 cooks, but only 123 have applied, 1,000 waiters are needed, and 223 have applied, more than 600 maids are wanted, and there are only 50 of them registered as unemployed and seeking work. HRT has also investigated what the situation is like at this moment in time for Opatija's ever-popular hotels.

As a favourite year-round tourist destination for all sorts of guests, but particularly for the Germans and Austrians, Opatija has more and more hotels that are remaining open all year round. This alone increases the chance that quality Croatian seasonal employees will be accepted into permanent employment positions. Until they are employed, the students of the Opatija Hospitality School regularly compete, practice and study.

"As part of the Regional Centre of Competence, we have the opportunity to send children to competitions, so they like it even more, and hotels and restaurateurs can't wait to hire them," says Sibila Roth, director of the Opatija Hospitality School, for HRT.

After two pandemic-dominated years, students are increasingly interested in becoming employed as cooks, waiters, pastry chefs and receptionists. While Croatian seasonal employees are preferred, there remains a serious lack of qualified labour on the domestic labour market, and it is increasingly certain that Croatian restaurateurs and hoteliers will continue to look for workers from outside of Croatian borders for this season as well.

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

Saturday, 17 December 2022

Croatian Law on Employment of Foreign Seasonal Workers Simplified

December the 17th, 2022 - The Croatian law on the employment of foreigners (third country nationals/non-EEA nationals) has been simplified, making life much easier for sectors like the hospitality, catering and tourism sector going forward.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the operative group of employers within the tourism and hospitality sector, the Croatian Employment Service (CES) and the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) have come together to devise a workable solution within Croatian law that will significantly simplify the procedures for issuing stay and work permits for returning foreign workers.

Instructions for police administrations and police stations have been prepared, as have all of the proper recommendations for employers for the correct submission of such requests, in order to facilitate the entire procedure to the satisfaction of both parties within the scope of Croatian law. Over the following days, detailed instructions for applications for returning workers will be provided to police administrations as well as to employers.

In addition to the above, on January the 12th, 2023, a workshop will be held where employers will have all of the details of the the model of issuing stay and work permits, as well as the methods of properly submitting requests, explained and clarified to them in full. On top of all of that, the possibility of upgrading the CES application is being investigated, so that through the application, it will be possible to check the status of any ongoing procedure, whether the request has been processed, when the work permit was issued and other similar information.

This method of cooperation and communication between the public and private sectors has showcased some truly excellent results and can be an exemplary example of efficient and high-quality communication that results in solutions that, on the one hand, relieve MUP clerks, and on the other hand, truly ensure a quality response to problems on the domestic labour market.

"In the short term of this initiative, our ministry established a dialogue with the representatives of employers within the tourism sector, in order to speed up and simplify the process of issuing residence and work permits, especially for seasonal workers who have been working in Croatia for several consecutive seasons. Both the employers and our Ministry are satisfied with the agreed concrete measures, and this is the way we'll continue our further cooperation. The first such opportunity is their inclusion in the drafting of the new Croatian immigration policy", said Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic.

"This kind of dialogue between MUP and Croatian employers is an excellent example of quality and efficient cooperation that very concretely helps both employers and workers. In a short period of time, we've facilitated the continuous employment of foreign workers who have proven themselves as quality employees in previous years. These changes to the Croatian law will make it easier for employers to prepare for the tourist season," said Irena Weber, CEO of the Croatian Association of Employers (HUP).

For more, check out our news section.

Thursday, 6 October 2022

How Many Croatian Hotel Employees Were Lacking in Tourism This Year?

October the 6th, 2022 - Just how many Croatian hotel employees did this first post-pandemic tourism season actually lack? The numbers are now in, and they're concerning to say the least.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, over this past summer tourist season, around 7.5 thousand seasonal workers were missing in the accommodation sector, and workers were missing in 86 percent of tourist companies from the latest survey of the Association of Employers in the Croatian Hotel Industry (UPUHH).

If this extremely worrying trend continues, more than 8,000 Croatian hotel employees and the like will be missing next season, UPUHH director Bernard Zenzerovic revealed at a recent meeting with journalists. The sector is therefore appealing to strengthen education and training programmes for Croatian workers, to speed up work permit processes for foreign workers with MUP and more.

A survey in which 39 companies which employ 45 percent of all workers in the country's accommodation sector took part, revealed that due to the lack of workers, as many as 42 percent of companies were forced to reduce the scope of their operations or services. This is significantly better than the situation was last year, when business was reduced by 65 percent, but it is still a very high number, explained Zenzerovic. This is especially true because the public health crisis which rocked the world for the past two years wasn't an issue during the summer of 2022.

Because of all this, this year 37 percent of companies will have a reduced income this year, in contrast to last year when two thirds of companies reported this.

The survey also revealed that as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, when many Croatian hotel employees and others engaged in similar jobs left the sector or even the country, the share of seasonal workers in the total workforce increased. In these companies, the share of seasonal workforce stands at around 70 percent. The turnover of workers also increased, that is, the number of workers who came to a certain company for the first time increased, and the share of permanent seasonal workers decreased by as much as 17 percent in just one single year.

"This shows that the permanent seasonal measure has now had its day and needs to be adjusted, because it's obviously no longer as attractive as it was before," said Zenzerovic.

Within the UPUHH, they propose to increase the amount of salary compensation that seasonal workers receive from the state during the months in which they don't work. As a good example of the sector's cooperation with state institutions, he cited the employment of pupils and students, which increased by around 21 percent this year, which is the result of an increase in the tax limit.

When it comes to foreign workers, the UPUHH pointed out that it is necessary to start working on measures that will speed up the processes involving stay and work permits and MUP's engagement as soon as possible. They propose to reduce the security check procedure for returning workers, which they rather ridiculously have to repeat every year, and given the fact that these returnees make up about 50 percent of the total number, it is an unsustainable way of doing things going forward.

They are advocating the digitalisation of the process of issuing work permits for foreigners at the level of the whole country, and they are asking the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to speed up the issuance of visas for the minority of workers who need them, and to increase the capacity of the services that process applications for stay and work permits for third country nationals within MUP.

"We need to actually realise that it isn't just Croatia which is fighting for these workers, the whole of Europe, Austria, Germany... they're all looking for them, and we have to do everything we can to remain competitive, because we now need to be aware that we can't meet our needs for workers here on the Croatian market," concluded Zenzerovic.

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

Monday, 16 May 2022

Croatian Labour Force 15,000 Employees Short for 2022 Season

May the 16th, 2022 - The height of 2022's summer tourist season is rapidly approaching, and the Croatian labour force is still missing around 15,000 employees. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the director of the Directorate for Development, Investments and Competitiveness of the Tourism Economy at the Ministry of Tourism, Robert Pende, said recently on the radio that the Croatian labour force, when it comes to the all important tourism sector, currently lacks as many as 15,000 workers, although he expects the deficit to decrease as time goes on.

"Currently, according to the information we've received from the sector itself, there are about 10,000 people who should come or be employed for this tourist year," said Pende, referring to the lack of workers in the tourism sector, which is ironically Croatia's most important economic branch.

However, he pointed out that many permits for foreign workers (meaning those from non EU-EEA countries such as neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, who require special permission in order to work here) are still in the process of being requested, so he expects those numbers to be somewhat lower eventually.

MUP is notoriously slow in processing employer requests for work permits for third country nationals such as the citizens of the aforementioned non EU countries, with cases of those would-be employees throwing in the towel and going elsewhere or only being approved for their work permit when the tourist season is already well and truly underway.

"In any case, we will have a deficit, I would say, throughout the main tourist season," Pende told HRT.

The president of the Dubrovnik County Chamber, Nikolina Trojic, said that the need at the Croatian national level is certainly between 15 and 20 thousand workers that must be introduced from somewhere.

"At the level of Dubrovnik-Neretva County alone, there are certainly at least two or three thousand people who are needed to come and work this season, so it's that many would-be employees who are missing. It's very difficult to fill that number from the Croatian labour force, and we will undoubtedly have to continue to import labour from abroad,'' added Trojic.

Dubrovnik already has a significant number of employees each summer season from nearby Trebinje, which is just over the border in the Republika Srpska governed part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that alone often causes rifts among locals who remember people from Trebinje attacking Dubrovnik thirty years ago. The issue with filling the Croatian labour force isn't only an issue economically, but on a much more personal level, with many feeling that the Dalmatian coast's many restaurants should be filled with Croatian, preferably local staff, and not those from Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia.

For more, check out our business section.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Up to 35,000 Seasonal Workers in Croatia Missing: Most Wanted Positions and Salaries

May 1, 2022 - Up to 35,000 seasonal workers in Croatia are missing this season, with waiters being the most sought-after workers in Croatia.

The 2022 tourist season should be excellent and at the level of 2019 or even better, at least according to the announcements. After two pandemic years, lockdowns have been lifted across Europe, and tourists are coming back to Croatia. But will there be enough seasonal workers to fill all the necessary jobs? reports:

According to the eVisitor system, which includes tourist traffic generated in commercial and non-commercial facilities and nautical charter (eCrew), in Croatia during the Easter holidays, i.e., from Friday, April 15, to Monday, April 18, 2022, there were about 135,000 arrivals and about 493,000 overnight stays. That’s far better than last year’s 147,000 overnight stays in the same period.

By default, most guests are in Istria and Kvarner, followed by Split-Dalmatia County. Arrivals in Dalmatian cities are the most frequent, though Zagreb has achieved the most overnight stays of all cities in Croatia. Looking at the entire country, almost the same number of overnight stays has been recorded since the beginning of the year as the record in 2019.

The latest research, "Monitoring the Sense of Domestic and Intra-European Travel - Wave 11" by the European Travel Commission (ETC), shows that Croatia, whose economy depends mainly on tourism, has something to look forward to. According to the research, three out of four Europeans intend to travel in the next six months, and the most attractive are Mediterranean destinations, including Croatia. According to the same research, holidays in the sun and the beach are the most desirable option, preferred by more than a fifth (22 percent) of Europeans.

These numbers will also increase the need for seasonal workers in tourism. According to the Croatian Employment Service data, 31,547 seasonal workers were sought in 2019, and 28,697 of them were employed from the Employment Service records.

How bad the pandemic was in 2020 for tourism is shown by only 18,380 workers sought through the Institute and 21,031 employees. The actual number is much higher because not all seasonal workers from the Institute are employed, but the trend is essential. Waiters, maids, cooks, cleaners, salespeople, kitchen workers, and assistant chefs are most in demand.

In the last few years, the lack of workers in Croatia has become a problem. After a decade of employers' attitude, "if you don't want to work for this salary, there are ten of them at the Bureau who will," workers have gained more negotiating power. Now they are in a position to demand better working conditions from employers.

The average salaries of seasonal workers are lower than the average salaries in the rest of the economy. For example, according to information from MojPosao, it ranges from HRK 4,427 (net) for a maid to HRK 6,306 (net) for a cook.

Emigration to the EU contributed the most, with economic recovery after a long crisis. In 2013, 345 thousand unemployed people were registered in Croatia, and in 2019, 2.7 times less, or 128 thousand. The potential labor pool has shrunk drastically; bargaining power has shifted from employers to workers. There are currently 121,000 unemployed in Croatia, and 78,000 jobs have been created at the CES.

"The labor shortage problem, which has been present for many years, culminated this year. There is no labor force needed for the tourist season in our country. Slavonia, which was an inexhaustible source of quality catering staff, unfortunately, is no longer, but of the total number of employees, most are still from that region. We educated them at the expense of the Croatian state budget to now work for Austrians, Germans, Irish, where their salaries are twice as high as in Croatia," said Eduard Andrić, president of the Croatian Trade Union of Tourism and Services. 

For the first time in Croatian history, employers need workers more than workers need them. The highest quality staff mostly moved to the west of the EU, so there was a labor shortage in Croatia. Most low-skilled workers left, so the lack of such workers is the largest. As a result, the wages of the lower-paid grew faster than the high wages, at least until the beginning of the pandemic. According to MojPosao, waiters are the most sought-after workers in Croatia, followed by traders, chefs, warehouse workers, drivers, and developers.

"The number of missing workers in tourism ranges from 30 to 35 thousand. We are looking for cleaners, maids, waiters and assistant waiters, chefs, assistant chefs, cooks, and receptionists. Salaries range from 4 to 9 thousand, and some staff who have gross contracts receive significantly higher salaries," Andrić specifies.

In addition to offering better working conditions to encourage the local population to work, the shortage of workers in Croatia must be compensated by importing labor. The fact that employers in Croatia have to look for workers abroad because there are not enough of them in Croatia or they do not want to work under the conditions offered by employers is a historical novelty.

In 2021, 66,917 applications were submitted in Croatia to issue work permits to foreigners, primarily for construction occupations and seasonal jobs, such as chefs, waiters, bakers, and cleaners. In the first three months of 2022 alone, 32,863 applications for work permits were submitted, which signals that far more applications will be submitted by the end of the previous year.

The most sought-after occupations with a request for temporary work in the first three months of 2022 are cooks (1829), maids (1780), assistant cooks (1465), assistant waiters (932), bakers (679 ), hotel maids (155), pastry chefs (149) and receptionists (48). For approved applications, the average gross salary of foreign workers in tourism is between HRK 4,700 and HRK 5,700.

"Workers from our neighboring countries, such as Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, or Bosnia and Herzegovina, go where our workers go, so we can't count on a large number of these workers. When they are already leaving their countries, it is the same for them whether they will come to Istria or go to Austria, and in Austria, they will receive twice the salary. After the liberalization of labor imports, employers turned to the markets of the Philippines, India, Ukraine, and even Russia. However, the war in Ukraine prevented the arrival of the agreed labor force from that country and the labor force from Russia," Andrić claims.

Emigrants from Ukraine might be able to fill a hole in the market, but that won’t be even close enough. Ukraine has banned men from leaving the country, so the emigrants are primarily women and children. According to the latest information, there are currently about 11,000 refugees from Ukraine in Croatia, of which 30 percent are highly educated.

All persons who have the status of a foreigner under temporary protection in Croatia can register in the unemployment register of the Croatian Employment Service if they want help and support. The CES produced a leaflet in the Ukrainian language and the Cyrillic alphabet. The leaflet can contain all the information on registration in the unemployment register and the rights that a person exercises after registration.

CES individual advisers provide support to highly educated Ukrainians in filling out applications to recognize higher education qualifications, which is the responsibility of the Agency for Science and Higher Education. When asked about the number of Ukrainian refugees employed in Croatia, the CES said that by April 15, 355 employers had expressed interest in employment, 494 people had registered with the Croatian Employment Service, and 42 had registered. employed through CES mediation.

"We should keep in mind that people under temporary protection are mostly women with minor children enrolled in education or kindergarten. There is a problem with their temporary relocation and temporary accommodation in Adriatic counties during the tourist season. Most employers, especially large hoteliers, have no infrastructure and the possibility of accommodating minor children, making it more difficult for them to be employed on a large scale during the season," the CES notes.

The announcement of a good tourist season is good news because tourism is the backbone of a large part of the Croatian economy, state revenues, and household budgets, whether by renting, added activities, or seasonal work.

What happens to Croatia when tourism disappears is shown by the pandemic in 2020, when Croatia had one of the most significant falls in GDP in the EU, at over 8 percent. There was no increase in prices that year as this year. Inflation has officially exceeded 6 percent, and if the trend continues, it could reach 10 percent by the end of the year.

Any income from tourism is saved for the Croatian economy and citizens in such conditions. And for good results, workers are needed.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Hunt for Dubrovnik Seasonal Workers Begins, Chefs and Waiters Needed Most

January 31, 2022 - The hunt for Dubrovnik seasonal workers begins, with chefs and waiters most in demand for the 2022 tourist season. 

Hotel houses and caterers in Dubrovnik are looking to fill the missing workforce ahead of the 2022 tourist season, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

The labor market is flooded with tenders, workers are wanted outside Croatia, and no one wants to repeat last year's mistake when employment was delayed due to fear of closing the emitting markets. As a result, some seasonal workers have gone abroad, and some have been recruited in the northern Adriatic. But what are the salaries attracting labor?

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the average salary in Croatia in November 2021 was HRK 7,333. However, the median net income was HRK 6,149, which means that half of the employees had a lower and half a higher income than that amount. Income in the so-called "real sector" in tourism has always been lower than the national average.

"The lowest salaries in tourism are paid to cleaners and kitchen support staff, around HRK 5,000 net per month. The average salary of a waiter in a Dubrovnik hotel is between HRK 6,000 and 7,500," says Dolores Lujić, commissioner of the Croatian Tourism and Hospitality Union. There is no data for restaurants, but given the high demand for waiters, she is convinced they are not lower. Receptionists are in the rank of waiters.

"Coefficients are generally not applied to them. So, for example, cooks and chefs in a top restaurant in Dubrovnik receive HRK 12 thousand or from HRK 15 thousand to 20 thousand," says Lujić.

According to the Croatian Employment Service advertisements, the most sought-after occupations are chefs and waiters. In Dubrovnik-Neretva County, 67 ads were opened for chefs and 52 for waiters in the entire area. Julijo Srgota, head of the Regional Office of the Croatian Employment Service (CES) in Dubrovnik, says that employers do not rest; advertisements arrive daily from the beginning of the year.

According to the Law on Foreigners, for some jobs, employers must obtain a positive opinion from the CES and the so-called "labor market test", and only then submit an application to the Ministry of the Interior for a residence and work permit for a foreign worker. On the other hand, the tourism sector can obtain work permits for workers from third countries without a labor market test, but only for up to 90 days during a calendar year.

In 2021, the CES office in Dubrovnik received 1,887 applications for employment of third-country nationals. In Dubrovnik-Neretva County, the CES issued 286 positive opinions last year, 10 are being processed, and 1,070 work permits have been issued. On the other hand, the institute refused 71 and suspended 361 work permits. The most significant number of requests related to jobs in construction and catering and tourism, such as building worker, cook, waiter, assistant chef, carpenter, bricklayer, valet, reinforcement worker, civil engineer, and facade worker. Since employers are obliged to enclose income data in their request for the opinion of the CES when hiring foreigners, it turns out that the average salary of a worker who came here from third countries to work as a chef is HRK 5506.9, waiter HRK 5462.6, and baker HRK 4631.8, while employers reported an average salary of HRK 4876 for a maid or HRK 4461 gross for a cleaner.

The average salary of employees in the Dubrovnik Tourist Board in 2019 was HRK 7,724 net. 

The County Chamber of Commerce performed a salary analysis in Dubrovnik-Neretva County companies for 2020. According to their data, the average salary in the provision of accommodation and food preparation services is HRK 4971 net, in trade HRK 4743, in transport HRK 6276, and in administrative and support service activities (90% being travel agencies) HRK 5166.

Compared to 2019, the most significant decline in monthly wages was recorded in accommodation services in tourism and food preparation (22 percent), and the smallest in transport, while in construction it increased by five percent and averaged HRK 4552.

"The highest average monthly net salary was paid in the supply of electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning, HRK 6,811. Paradoxically, the lowest average wage in the county is in the field of education, HRK 3,890.

This applies to private institutions and companies, not schools financed from the budget, but it says how we treat this activity. The data are exact, based on the data presented by entrepreneurs in their final financial reports to Fina," says Nikolina Trojić, President of the Chamber.

Commenting that the average income in the Dubrovnik area is lower than the state, Trojić noted that the coronavirus hit a large part of businesses much harder and that many employees depended on government support for job preservation (HRK 4,000).

Through the Dubrovnik Student Center, the student population, in most cases, works in tourism and catering. In 2021, 6878 contracts were signed through the student service. For comparison, in 2020, 4097 contracts were signed through student services, and in 2019, 10,364 contracts.

"Most often, hourly rates for students last year were between 30 and 35 kuna, and the most sought after jobs were waiters, support staff in catering, cleaners, maids, and other hotel housework," says Marko Potrebica, director of the Student Center Dubrovnik.

For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Croatian 2022 Season Lacks 35,000 Workers, Some Hotels May Not Open

January the 25th, 2022 - It might seem like we're far from the sweltering heat of summer and an influx of tourists at the moment, thanks to the temperatures and the weather, but the Croatian 2022 season will be here before we know it. As many as 35,000 staff are required and apparently are struggling to be found, leading some facilities such as hotels to perhaps not even bother opening their doors this summer.

As Novi list/Alenka Juricic Bukarica writes, there will be an estimated shortage of between 30,000 and 35,000 tourism employees for the Croatian 2022 season. The problem of labour shortages escalated last year when some hotels, and not only those of lower category, didn't bother to open their doors during the main summer season because there were no employees who would work the season to be found.

The tourism sector therefore calculated that around 800 million kuna more revenue could have been generated if they had been able to hire labour under more relaxed conditions.

Most of the Croatian tourism sector, with the exception of, for example, travel agencies, no longer have job preservation measures introduced in 2020 available for their employees, which is why the sector launched a series of proposals back in early autumn, immediately after the season, to alleviate the problem of staff shortages and to further facilitate employment. The sector also expects the labour market test obligation to be scrapped.

The problem of waiting for work permits for third country nationals

The 2021 Croatian census showed a sharp decline in the number of inhabitants of the country, and thus the working population, and in the conditions of the pandemic, the trend of local workers going abroad increased, meaning that the already insufficient pool of domestic labour was further emptied. As expected, the Croatian 2022 season will come with great demand for staff from other, mostly neighbouring non-EEA/EU countries, but also the Philippines, India and Ukraine.

Last year, when it came to hiring foreigners, employers ended up having to wait for several weeks to get valid work permits for their staff to that they could work legally, and waiting for even one month during the height of the busy tourist season is unrealistic.

According to the Croatian Employment Service (CES), two thousand and 463 waiters, two thousand and 101 chefs and 689 maids were registered at the bureau at the end of December. According to the same institution, a total of 235,219 workers were wanted for last year's season, of which 27,792 were seasonal workers.

Out of a total of 27,792 sought-after seasonal workers, most were in Istria, Split-Dalmatia, Primorje-Gorski Kotar and Dubrovnik-Neretva counties. When it comes to labour market tests, in 2021 - 28,838 workers were in demand. Thus, work permits were issued to more than 2,000 cleaners from abroad, about 1,700 foreign waiters, 1,300 assistant cooks, about 1,200 cooks, and about 700 hotel maids.

The highest number of requests for the labour market test was received by the Zagreb Regional Office, amount to around 8,500, while Pula is in second place with about 6,800 such requests, and Rijeka is in third place with about 5,400 requests. It's worth mentioning that back during the record-breaking year of pre-pandemic 2019, about 20,000 seasonal workers from abroad were employed in the Croatian tourism sector.

Crisis reactions

Commenting on the situation with staff in tourism last year and this year, Marina Cvitic, the president of the Trade Union of Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia (SIKD), pointed out that in tourism, it is more than necessary to specifically increase salaries, all the more so given the situation with inflation.

''This was the biggest mistake employers in tourism made at a time when there were staff to be hired. There were enough of them, and the employers had enough money and they could have financially increased the salaries of their employees. Now they have less money, and they give bigger increases than when they did have money. But, unfortunately, there are no staff now. It's a vicious circle. Now, salaries should be increased by at least 50 percent in order to get people to come back,'' she warned.

She added that today anyone who is healthy can find a job. It might not be a quality job, but it will be enough to get by. People don't leave Croatia because there is no work, but above all to find better jobs and more stability. Last year, she said, the staffing situation became very difficult.

''On the one hand, I understand why it was how it was. Employers couldn't plan in time because the pre-season was marked by lockdowns, and until the very beginning of summer, it was practically unknown whether there would be a tourist season at all. Then in June everything started again rather abruptly, and of course all those who weren't invited to come here to work until June, had been looking for a livelihood elsewhere. A large number of workers who would otherwise have decided to work in Croatian tourism went and did other things, usually being engaged in the construction or trade sectors. Wages in these industries increased, so tourism offered low incomes in relation to them. Therefore, without a concrete increase in salaries, I'm afraid that there will be no progress for the Croatian 2022 season and that part of the facilities will remain closed once again due to lack of staff,'' said Cvitic, adding that now is the time to negotiate the price of labour for the upcoming tourist season.

This time last year, the negotiation was to reduce, not increase wages, because there was no need for workers. During the season, through non-taxable awards and other things, they tried to compensate for that.

As for foreign workers, Cvitic revealed, they were really from everywhere, from Nepal, Brazil, Argentina, India, to the Philippines to Ukraine.

''From those countries where it is worse than it is in this country, things are easier, on top of that, Croatia is actually just a stop on their way to Western European countries. The problem is that this type of employee, when in contact with the guest, cannot provide the service that a person who lives here and who is representing this country can do. Croatian are known for their quality and professionalism, and unfortunately we're in a situation in which we educate quality staff, invest in their education and practice, and then those people go to work elsewhere. This is clearly indicated by the latest census data. Personally, I expected that there would be no decline in Istria, precisely because of the progress in tourism, however, the peninsula didn't remain immune to this negative trend,'' concluded Cvitic.

LRH: We are raising the standard for employees

Liburnia Riviera Hotels (LRH) also touched on the Croatian 2022 season staffing issues, said that this year, they will need about 600 additional employees.

''We always need waiters, cooks, receptionists, maids... We'll also need additional strength in other areas. On a smaller scale, we'll also hire staff for some specific positions such as lifeguards, gardeners or handymen, as well as people to come and work in administration. The search for new human resources has already begun. We believe that it is very important to start the search in time to find the best employees, especially given the poor market situation,'' they said.

Initial talks with potential future employees for the Croatian 2022 season, as well as negotiations with some key partners in the recruitment process (employment agencies) began late last season, they said from LRH, adding that they offer employees competitive market conditions with adequate accommodation and food, as well as working continuously and intensively to improve overall working conditions and raise standards in all aspects of employee relations.

Jadran/Adriatic: Scholarships and a stable job

''Considering the situation on the labour market, primarily starting from the ambitious plans for next year, activities related to the labour force haven't stopped for this company.

As of September the 1st last year, a total of 46 employees received indefinite contracts, and some of them had their contracts extended for another year, meaning that Jadran now has 165 full-time employees, an increase of 12 percent compared to the same period back in 2019,'' said Lucija Jukic, the director of sales and marketing of Jadran Crikvenica.

She added that, in addition to continuously advertising the need for labour force and cooperation with the CES, Jadran will also perform at the upcoming virtual job fair

In agreement with the High School in Crikvenica, the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism in Ika and the PAR Business School in Rijeka, Jadran applied to the programme of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport for scholarships for students studying for tourism professions for which employment approval has been obtained, adding nine new scholarship recipients into the mix.

''Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, we had to abandon the planned, year-round operation of the Boutique Hotel Esplanade, which was to become a centre of excellence, but we're glad to announce the opening of Hotel Lisanj, which will begin working on February the 11th and will not close until the end of the year. Jadran will also employ another 450 seasonal workers during the Croatian 2022 season,'' concluded Jukic.

Valamar: Permanent job and awards

The largest tourist company in Croatia, Valamar Riviera, says that this year, according to the plan, about 7,000 employees from Istria to Dubrovnik will work in their facilities.

''An additional advantage of working at Valamar is the possibility of working in our hotels in Austria during the winter months. After their first season working here, employees can enter the permanent season and have a seasonal job, with year-round income. Last autumn, Valamar started with the selection and employment for the Croatian 2022 season within the Good Job at Valamar programme and invited all those interested in developing a career in tourism to apply for a job with us.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Valamar, with the support of social partners and government measures, preserved all jobs through the Pause, Restart programme, which last year enabled the realisation of a solid tourist season, and we're already intensively preparing for the season ahead. At Valamar, we offer the best working conditions and have been recognised as a top employer in tourism for many years now. We expect to fill most of the job positions this year with employees from Croatia, and we're satisfied with the interest of candidates from the immediate region,'' said Valamar.

When asked what conditions they offer, they stated that last year, they hired 400 employees for an indefinite period of time, and paid the highest awards for the season, awards for excellence and a 13th salary and Christmas bonus.

For more on how companies are preparing for the Croatian 2022 season, check out our business section.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Valamar Already Seeking Employees for 2022 Croatian Tourist Season

September the 17th, 2021 - The height of the summer tourist season, which was put in doubt and which returned truly remarkable results despite various predictions, is now behind us. As the post-season approaches and as hopes remain high despite Croatia now being ''red'' on the ECDC corona map and with infection numbers higher, Valamar is already on the lookout for employees for the 2022 Croatian tourist season.

The global coronavirus pandemic made most people worry that we'd see a repeat of the dire summer of 2020 once again this season, especially as the beginning of the year started out so badly, with lockdowns across Europe, high infection rates, travel bans and a poor initial vaccine rollout. We were very pleasantly surprised by what ended up transpiring, with the record, pre-pandemic year of 2019's numbers even being surpassed in several segments. Could Valamar's early search for next year's workers be a sign that 2022 will be the year of total recovery? Maybe. There's a lure for would-be 2022 Croatian tourist season workers from Valamar, too.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the very well known Croatian company Valamar has reported that it will reward all its employees for an extremely demanding season with incentives in the amount of up to 1,600. kuna As such, through special reward programmes for the 2021 tourist season, Valamar paid a total of around 24 million kuna out to its employees, which amounts to 4,100 kuna per employee, according to the company, which has already started recruiting workers for next year.

"In order to keep hold of employees in tourism, the social partners and Valamar have launched a programme for year-round employment until the 2022 Croatian tourist season. In agreement with the unions, an employment programme was launched which would make the 400 most loyal seasonal workers permanent workers for an indefinite period of time during the autumn and ensure a year-round job in tourism,'' they explained from the popular company.

In the coming period, in order to develop high quality tourism, it will be necessary to increase and ensure the year-round income of employees and improve their overall working conditions. Thus, after the official end of this tourist season, Valamar is set to re-launch a series of initiatives from the "Good Job at Valamar/Dobar posao u Valamaru" programme.

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

Thursday, 29 April 2021

How Many Seasonal Workers in Croatia Will Even be Needed This Year?

April the 29th, 2021 - Seasonal workers would usually be being called to action, so to speak, as Croatian tourism prepares for another busy summer full of tourists, flights, cruise ships and ferry crossings. With the coronavirus pandemic still holding the world in its grip, will there be a need for seasonal workers in Croatia at all in 2021?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, at this moment in time, nobody really knows how many seasonal workers in Croatia will be needed this year, although it is clear that the maximum of 10 thousand seasonal employment positions won't be filled, which was of course far from the case back in pre-pandemic 2019.

Would-be seasonal workers who have applied for a job in the past few months, much like they did back during normal years, are ready to be called, but the question is still when that will happen, and whether all of them will be called at all.

Due to the uncertainty that persists in the global travel market, employers don't yet have a defined number of facilities they're set to open for the season, and it's difficult to predict how many facilities will be filled to capacity, to know how many workers they'll need.

Human resources departments are therefore in a very challenging position this year, perhaps more than last year, as has been found out from the hotel sector.

As has been found out on the MojPosao portal, so far in 2021, more than 2,000 ads have been published in the Tourism and Hospitality category. That’s 18 percent less than last year, and a worrying 51 percent fewer ads than back in 2019.

Analysts of the portal note that it must be taken into account that a comparison with last year is impossible - until mid-March last year, nobody could have begun to imagine the scale of the pandemic or the toll it would end up taking, meaning that employers in January 2020 published more than 1,000 ads in this category.

On the other hand, most catering and hospitality facilities in Croatia put their keys in their locks back at the beginning of this year, more specifically in January and February, and the doors were opened only at the beginning of March, when the then anti-epidemic measures were relaxed and terraces were opened.

“With that in mind, it's quite understandable that employers posted significantly more job advertisements during January and February last year than was the case at the beginning of 2021, just as it was expected that there'd be an increase in terms of the number of advertisements in March this year by as much as 55 percent when compared to the same period last year when a rigorous lockdown took effect. This April also doesn’t make much sense to compare to last year’s, during which a complete lockdown was still in effect, and given that 795 percent more ads were posted this year than last year.

On the other hand, if we compare this year's figures with those of 2019, we find that 38 percent fewer ads were published in March and 40 percent fewer ads were published in April than in the same period two years ago,'' explained some of those in the know when it comes to employment of this nature.

This analysis of published advertisements also shows the extent to which this year differs from last year for tourism companies, even in terms of employment planning and for seasonal workers in Croatia.

Many in the field therefore claim that their employment depends on as yet unpredictable circumstances. Maistra plans to employ up to 2,000 seasonal workers, but everything will depend exclusively on the epidemiological situation in the country and in Croatia's emitting markets.

"Back at the end of February, the employment of seasonal employees in Croatia in open facilities began, while more intensive employment is still ahead of us, so the planned number of seasonal workers in Croatia is expected to be reached successively by mid-June. Usually, the greatest need is for maids, waiters and chefs with experience, receptionists... but we're also looking for employees in other professions,'' they revealed from that large company.

Benefits for workers

As in previous years, in addition to the salary paid monthly, Maistra organises and pays for the accommodation of all of its employees who need it. Equally, their employees are entitled to two hot meals and transportation to work.

Salary supplements are paid, ie holiday pay, Christmas bonus and more. Maistra potentially withdrawing some of its staff from its Zagreb hotels (HUP Zagreb) this year as well as the company did last year, hasn't been ruled out.

Valamar says that they are opening a significant number of new seasonal jobs for each season. They noted that last year they continued with the implementation of the permanent seasonal measure and the Valamar +3 programme, which provides year-round income to their most loyal permanent seasonal workers in Croatia, and almost 900 seasonal employees are included in the programme at the minute.

"In April alone, we're going to employ all of our permanent seasonal workers again, but in moderation. After hiring our permanent seasonal workers, the priority will then be to hire our seasonal returnees, and we also expect to hire seasonal workers in the high season during the summer months. We provide our seasonal workers with a minimum net income of 5,000 kuna net for their monthly hours worked, accommodation, hot meals and other benefits,'' they pointed out from the company. Their integrated report shows that the share of permanent seasonal workers in the total share of seasonal jobs last year was 78 percent.

For Plava Laguna/Blue Lagoon, they pointed out that the employment of seasonal workers will depend on the opening of facilities, which in turn depends on the epidemiological situation, ie the measures introduced by the National Civil Protection Headquarters and the respective governments in Croatia's main emitting markets.

"During the peak season we employ about three thousand workers, half of whom are employed in one of the forms of permanent cooperation - permanent workers, permanent seasonal workers, and half are other seasonal workers. We're certainly looking for workers in the local pool, however, in the past few years we've relied on foreign workers, given the increase in capacity due to the investment cycle. In May and June, we plan to hire an additional 1,300 people, and through July an additional 250 seasonal workers, that's if we're talking about the tourist season in relatively full scope,'' they stated from the company.

There is no talk of a shortage of workers in Croatian tourism this year either, partly due to the liberalisation of labour imports. According to the MojPosao portal, in the first three months of this year, more than 34,000 applications were received for ads in the Tourism and Catering category, which is 6 percent less than last year, and a decline was recorded only in January when the catering and hospitality industry was closed.

In February alone, the number of applications for ads in the category of Tourism and Hospitality was higher by 23 percent when compared to last year, and this growth will increase dramatically in March and April, but because last year everything was closed. This year, 20 percent more applications were received at the tourism business fair and via the website than there were last year.

For more, follow our business section.