Aliaksandr Yarashuk: Now the authorities do not care about employment issues

    For 2020 – 2021, the number of those dismissed in the country by 110.4 thousand people exceeded the number of those hired. Where did these people go to?

    The Belorusy i Rynok newspaper was looking for an answer to this question with the help of experts and at the same time tried to find out what the general situation on the labour market is, which employees are not needed, and which ones are in high demand.

    Where did the 110 thousand workers disappear to?

    The number of people employed in Belarus has long been decreasing. In 2010, 4.703 million Belarusians worked at enterprises and organizations of various forms of ownership, as well as individual entrepreneurs; in 2020, their number was only 4.319 million, that is, in 10 years the number of employees decreased by 384 thousand. It may be assumed that a significant part of them have retired on pension, however, the number of the pensioners has almost not increased. In 2010, there were 2.468 million pensioners in the country, and in 2020 – already 2.485 million. In addition, in August 2021, the number of pensioners in Belarus dropped to a historic low of 2.425 million. Moreover, the number of pensioners has been decreasing for the fifth year running.

    If we analyze the statistics of the hired and dismissed for 2020 and 2021 (see the infographics), then the situations becomes even more obvious: last year the number of those dismissed exceeded the number of those hired by 48 474 people. For 8 months of this year (according to the data provided by Belstat (National Statistics Committee of the Republic of Belarus), 61,943 people lost their jobs and did not find a new one. From January to August 2021, the number of people dismissed “on a net basis” increased by 42%!

    It should be also noted that there is no “pendulum” – when more people are hired in one month, and vice versa in another. For the last time this situation was observed in October – November last year.

    At the same time, the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection offers a slightly different picture: “As of July 1, 2021, the number of unemployed registered with the labour, employment and social protection authorities amounted to 7.9 thousand people, which is 20.7 % less than on July 1, 2020. As of July 1, 2021, the registered unemployment rate amounted to 0.2% of the labour force”.

    What happens to the dismissed employees? Where are those 110 thousand people? We asked these questions to the Chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) Aliaksandr YARASHUK, and this is what he answered:

    – The downward trend in the number of employees is quite stable, employment is decreasing primarily at large state-owned enterprises, where it is clearly excessive. However, I think that most of those who quit have already found work – if not in a private business in Belarus, then abroad. Belarusians leave for Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Ukraine.

    At the same time, the BKDP chairman noted that before studies were carried out that made it possible to analyze where and how the labour force flows, what the situation with unemployment is, and now, for obvious reasons, it is difficult to trace and evaluate these processes.

    – This is very bad, now no one seriously studies the processes occurring on the labour market. After all, if officially unemployment is practically equal to zero and is not recognized as a problem, then the correct “diagnosis” is not made and, accordingly, there is no necessary “treatment” of the disease. No one thinks about the situation taking place on the labour market, where tens of thousands of people go. In my opinion, as long as the “foreign trade miracle” is preserved and somehow help both ends meet, the authorities will not pay attention to this problem. Besides, there is no tension in labour collectives, since the number of employees is decreasing while the same wages fund is preserved, – Aliaksandr Yarashuk explained.

    It should be noted that in none of the regions of Belarus there were more people hired than dismissed. In addition, in all regions, the negative trend has only worsened: in 2021, the negative difference (on an accrual basis) became larger in comparison with the same period last year in all regions of the country. The worst condition is in Minsk: according to the available statistics, over 7 months of this year, the number of those dismissed was 15,745 people more than the number of those hired (in January – July 2020, it was 12,026 people more).

    All professions are important. However, are they all in demand?

    According to the Belstat, in the context of economic activities, the most negative trend is observed in the field of education: in January – August 2021, the number of those dismissed was 19.2 thousand people more than the number of those hired (for 8 months of last year, it was 20.9 thousand more), as well as in healthcare and social services (6.6 thousand and 5.4 thousand people more, respectively). During the reporting periods, they account for almost half of all those dismissed and not hired.

    In addition, a negative trend on the labour market this year is the state of affairs in the construction sector: in January – August 2021, the number of those dismissed was 7 thousand people more than the number of those hired (against the positive trend of the same period last year, when the number of hired was 1.1 thousand people more than those dismissed).

    So, who is in demand on the labour market? According to the statistics of the Committee on Labour, Employment and Social Protection of the Minsk City Executive Committee, as of September 1, 2021, employers announced more than 22.7 thousand vacancies to the capital’s employment service. The top 10 blue-collar jobs required on the market include: cook (647 vacancies), salesperson (536), cashier-controller (459), plasterer (439), house painter (431), bricklayer (375), car driver (369), mechanic of mechanical assembly works (318), electrician for repair and maintenance of electrical equipment (318), worker for complex maintenance and repair of buildings and structures (315). The top 10 white-collar jobs include as follows: nurse (812), specialist doctor (716), engineer (665), educator (222), teacher (159), manager (129), paramedic (119), software engineering professional (102), economist (90), accountant (82).

    According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, as of July 1, 2021, the labour, employment and social protection authorities received information about the availability of 91.5 thousand vacancies, which is 22.9% more than a year ago. The need for workers in blue-collar occupations was 64.9% of the total number of vacancies.

    What do experts say?

    According to Svetlana KOROSTELEVA, director of the Kvadrat recruiting agency, one of the most important factors affecting the situation on the labour market is the outflow of labour force abroad. The current situation in the country can be called a “job seeker’s market”, when the conditions are dictated by candidates for vacant positions.

    – I have been working on this market for 26 years and I can say that such situations happen very rarely, so now for those who are looking for a job, the best time has come to grab luck by the tail and find a high-paying job. It should be borne in mind that each time the situation “settles down”, it eventually breaks in the opposite direction and it is the employer who starts to dictate the conditions. This can last for years. However, now employers are groaning from the impossibility of finding good specialists. Now you can find a high-paying job without exerting a lot of effort, – she assessed the situation.

    Igor KOCHETOV, director of the KIAT HR company, believes that the constant growth in the number of those dismissed and not hired is associated with the restructuring of state-owned enterprises.

    – It should be noted that the number of vacancies is huge – both in Minsk and in the country as a whole, and it keeps on growing, though not evenly. If we take state-owned enterprises, then in the overwhelming majority these are vacancies associated with physical labour. In particular, state-owned enterprises and organizations are now experiencing a shortage of drivers, construction workers, and there is a shortage of nurses and nursing assistants in the medical sector. The demand for employees in these specialties has objectively grown. If we talk about vacancies in other sectors, then traditionally there are not enough people in the IT-field, sales specialists, as for state-owned enterprises – sales engineers, – he explained.

    Who is in little demand on the labour market? Who should get retrained?

    – Lawyers “in their pure form”, economists-managers “in their pure form”, psychologists, translators are not needed. Today, people are required who combine knowledge of the profession with proficiency in a foreign language, especially those who can sell and look for clients on the international market. By the way, now there is a demand for employees of recruiting agencies, which was not for many years. Of course, there is a chronic shortage of teachers and doctors, but the point is that the wishes of candidates do not coincide more and more with the proposed salary, – Svetlana Korosteleva summed up.