BR’s Working Romania Conference | Cristian Erbasu: Romanian construction workers who have left the country don’t just want high salaries to return; They need good working conditions, quality of life

Anca Alexe 07/05/2019 | 10:15

Business Review’s Working Romania Event looks at the new trends that challenge the leading local human resources industry to uncover how they navigate the changes affecting the manner in which we work, as well as at the ways companies and human resources executives are changing their recruitment practices in order to attract and retain top talents.

In the first panel of the conference, Cristian Erbasu, the CEO of Constructii Erbasu, talked about the problems construction companies are facing in Romania and why they’re struggling to find enough workers to uphold investments.

“There are about 700,000 Romanians working abroad in construction. In Romania we only have about 300,000 people working on construction sites, of whom more than half are non-qualified. Regular people also deal with this issue of lack of workforce from time to time, when they need plumbers, plasterers or other such workers. So even though they don’t seem to be as important as doctors, for example, construction workers are essential for the economy,” Cristian Erbasu explained.

He also noted that the sector and the related workforce has seen a significant decline in Romania especially after the country joined the EU, as they were intensely targeted by foreign businesses.

After two months of negotiations with construction companies, the government signed a 10-year agreement to make construction a priority sector.

“The agreement has the following objective: to reduce tax evasion – 70 percent of workers are paid off the books, at least partially; to stop the exodus of workers and bring back those who have already left; introducing more discipline in the construction sector to create better working conditions, because those thinking of coming back to Romania don’t just think about the salary, but also about the other conditions and quality of life,” Erbasu said.

He added that the most important aspect for construction companies today is predictability, so that investments can be planned on the long term. “This government, as well as future governments, must intervene for the long term. Construction companies suffer due to the lack of investments. In 2022-2023, we’ll go through a craze to attract EU funds because the programming period will end, but that will be followed by another period of decline.”

Cristian Erbasu said that he had expected more Romanian construction workers to come back to the country over the Easter holidays and stay here to work, but that this was not the case. “What they did was they negotiated with their bosses abroad and they gave them salary raises so that they would stay there,” he explained.

Even though the measures taken by the government have not yet had a major effect on the sector, Erbasu thinks we will be seeing significant changes in about a year. “The main source of workers will be young people, who will find the sector much more attractive due to the recent measures,” he concluded.

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