What is the labour market in Belarus going through?
According to official statistics, the Belarusian labour market is calm and quiet. But at the same time, the demand for labour is growing, more and more vacancies appear, and for some reason candidates are in no hurry for interviews. And while employers groan from the lack of specialists, they, in turn, pack their bags and go abroad in search of a better life. More and more Belarusians dissatisfied with the level of income at home find work in Poland and Lithuania. What is the situation on the labour market in Belarus? Why is there a shortage of workers in the country? What specialties are in demand in Europe and how much do labour migrants earn? AGRONEWS discussed all these issues with the director of the employment portal RDW.by Liliya Osipchik.
Labour hunger: the lack of drivers in Belarus is simply catastrophic!
We analyze the labour market every day and I can say one thing: the situation is not the easiest one, especially in the last year. We can talk for a long time about the reasons why this happened, but the fact is: there is no one to work in our country now. And the outflow of personnel played not the last role in this “labour” fiasco. Although, let’s look at the current tendency: salaries have not decreased, say, for the employees working in the sales or construction sectors. On the contrary, some firms and organizations have raised the financial level trying to retain employees. The main blow fell on workers’ specialties. The construction industry experienced a real hunger for labour, but most of all – the freight industry. Unfortunately, the lack of drivers in Belarus is simply catastrophic!
For example, there are not enough taxi drivers. Although, it would seem, what could be easier? A person obtains a license, gets practical skills during a year of driving and can work after that. Taxi drivers have always received salaries that are not low by the standards of the market. However, this segment lacks staff now. Another example, there are not enough long-haul truckers, couriers who travel around Belarus and deliver goods. Because employers in this category set salaries of BYN 700. It’s true; we did have such a vacancy. That is, a person works 5 days a week, travels around the country, and sometimes he has to discharge cargo himself, and all this for that amount of money? And he needs to support his family. Drivers are the weakest point of the labour market. They are simply lacking.
In Europe, the salary of long-haul truckers starts from 2,000 Euros, and Belarus is unable to offer this money
As for the international cargo transportation, the situation is very bad. And the problem is salaries. In Belarus, employers offer drivers of heavy trucks a salary of BYN 2-2.5 thousand. And this is an average good salary for a Belarusian long-haul trucker. The human nature is like this – he will always look for the best place, conditions, salary. And of course, Europe is beyond competition. There, long-haul truckers’ salaries start at 2,000 Euros. And this is the money that Belarus simply cannot offer. Therefore, it is not surprising that professional drivers go there to work. The so-called cadence is very popular now. This means as follows: at the invitation of the employer, a driver leaves, say, to Lithuania for 3 months (once every three months drivers have the right to cross the border by land transport). He works for this time, then he gets a short vacation (between 2 and 4 weeks), and then he comes back again. Drivers get daily payment, on average from between 60 and 75 Euros. Moreover, in Poland and Lithuania, there are no special requirements for the driver. Some companies hire employees even without work experience, however, on the condition: on-the-job training first, and only then – a full-time job. There is one more nuance. According to the law, international drivers must have a certificate of professional qualification, the so-called code 95. Yes, it costs money, but they agree to obtain it because the money amount spent will be recouped literally from the first flight.
Let’s keep in mind that there is also a terrible shortage of drivers in Poland and Lithuania. And judging by the economic situation in Europe, this tendency will continue in the future. The shortage of personnel entails an increase in salaries; everyone wants to get a professional employee. Therefore, I am sure that the salaries of C, E category drivers will continue to grow. This suggests that the outflow of Belarusian drivers may even increase.
Of course, this situation is a strong blow to Belarusian employers. They cannot offer such conditions. This is a pure economy: after all, if they raise wages, they will also need to raise freight costs, and if freight costs rise, the price of goods will rise, inflation will rise. Therefore, Belarusian employers simply have no other choice.
Poland has become a labour hub for Belarusians. Builders are paid about $1,000 a month
In fact, in recent years Poland has become a labour hub for Belarusians. The Poles themselves move further to Europe, and our people are closing the gap in the labour market. If earlier it was mainly Ukrainians who can work without a visa, now Belarusians are also in demand. First of all, these are working specialties – builders in particular. And again, I will not open America if I say that money is the reason.
A few years ago, Belarusian builders felt great at home because they earned quite good money. For example, in the summer they left the state-owned enterprise and earned extra money as “jobbing workmen”, and in the winter they returned again. The personnel officers used to call such employees “travelling bears”. Now this does not work. In Europe, the level of salaries for construction specialties is much higher. And given the fact that there is a clear shortage of workers abroad, the job seekers are certainly in favour. For example, in Poland, in order to attract specialists, some tenants offer free housing and an advance payment, so that a person can come and have a start from zero. Another example, the so-called “family vacancies” are very popular now, when both a wife and a husband are expected in the same production. Thus, they fill both warehouse vacancies and workers.
As for salaries, according to the latest figures, builders are paid PLN 20-21 per hour. And now let’s calculate: 21 days for 8 working hours is equal to about $40 per day, and respectively – about $1,000 per month. This is, let’s say, the minimum for blue-collar jobs. In Poland, like in our country, there is such a thing as the minimum wage below which no employer has the right to pay. This is prohibited by law. Now it is $700, and they plan to increase the amount from next year.
Employees there eagerly hire Belarusians and Ukrainians to the warehouses of well-known trading platforms. But there are very difficult working conditions there: 6 days, 10-12 hour shifts, however, with hourly pay. This is purely by agreement of the parties. This work suits for those who arrive, work for a couple of months and leave. But of course, it is very difficult. We are not used to this.
Of course, there is such a thing as deception and, of course, there are those who fall into the trap of unscrupulous and unverified agencies, who take money for employment, and as a result, “zilch”. As a result, people come and understand that these are far from the conditions or the salary that they were promised. But Polish law is very harsh on this. There is a special PIP structure – the state work inspectorate to which you can file a complaint. And the employer will be checked immediately.
In fact, if a person goes to Europe, works there, gets paid, sees the way other people live, the likelihood that he will return to work in Belarus is very small. And this is a huge loss for us.