Romania’s government increased quotas for non-EU foreign workers in 2019 by 50 percent up to 30,000 work permits, an all-time high number, under the pressure of higher demand from local companies claiming they are affected by the workforce crisis.
“For the year 2019 a quota of 30,000 newly admitted workers on the Romanian labor market is established,” the decree adopted on Tuesday by the government says.
The decree has been proposed in July by the Labour Ministry.
In December 2018, the government had planned to issue 13,500 work permits for non-EU workers in 2019 but has decided in January to raise the number up to 20,000.
The authorities said that the General Inspectorate for Immigration, a branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, issued this year (until August 23) 16,540 new work permits for non-EU foreign employees.
But the demand for foreign workers is much higher as Romanian companies requested 19,173 work permits during the same period.
Statistics don’t include EU citizens, who don’t need a permit to work in Romania.
These figures show a record request for foreign employees in Romania, where businesses struggle with workforce shortages in sectors such as construction, HORECA or logistics.
During the last couple of years, China and Turkey were by far the two leading countries of origin for migrant workers in Romania.
But Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India and Nepal became the main sources this year. Last year, Romanian and Vietnamese authorities signed a memorandum in order to ease the access of Vietnamese workers on the Romanian market.
Best short-term option
Employers claim it’s harder than ever to find new workers in Romania in sectors like construction works or shipbuilding and prefer to bring foreign workers.
Bringing foreign workers is the only short-term option for Romania as more than half of current unemployed people in the country are alcoholic and unable to work, Dragos Anastasiu, owner of Eurolines Group, said in May at BR’s Working Romania Conference.
“Unfortunately, importing workforce from abroad is the only short-term option for Romania in this moment, because we did nothing during the past five years. On medium and long term, we need a national strategy to solve the workforce crisis,” Anastasiu points out.
Emigration and labour shortage in Romania put increasing pressure on employers to find skilled workers in order to expand their businesses.
The local businessman thinks that bringing back the Romanians working abroad is a very difficult task as they are used with a quality of life that they can’t find in their home country.
In the same time, local entrepreneurs say that trying to attract unemployed people in Romania on the work market may be an illusion.
“Nobody likes to speak about that but more than half of unemployed people in Romania are alcoholics, they are unable to work,” Anastasiu said.
According to the businessman, bureaucracy is a major obstacle in importing foreign workers in Romania as there is a fierce competition between European states in attracting working from abroad.
The Labour Ministry claims that almost 60,000 jobs are available and the companies offering them never find workers.