Category Archives: Economy @en

Austrian experts on Bulgaria in “Wirtschaftsblatt”

Zname-Avstria-300x200For more than a century Bulgaria and Austria have an intensive political , economical and cultural cooperation. Especially Austrian companies benefit from a good knowledge of the Bulgarian market. Not only for that reason Austria is the second largest investor of the country. The November issue of the Bulgarian Wirtschaftsblatt focuses on Austria. We have summarized and supplemented some interesting information.

Ambassador Hauser about Bulgaria as an investment country

A steady economical growth, an attractive tax environment as well as decreasing unemployment figures convince investors. Bulgaria has a strong amicable relationship with the German-speaking countries Germany, Switzerland and Austria, ambassador Mr. Mag. Roland Hauser towards Wirtschaftsblatt.

According to him, Bulgaria is at the moment in a phase of relative political stability which strengthens the confidence of Bulgaria as a business location.

Trade expert Straka: Bulgaria is stable!

The Austria trade commissioner in Sofia, Ms. Mag. Ulrike Straka agrees. According to her, Bulgaria has again politically more stable circumstances and there is an EU-friendly government – these are good preconditions. This leads to the fact that already located Austria commercial enterprises continue investing which attracts foreign investors.

But also negative trends on behalf of the government are noticeable, like the rejection of the Anti-corruption Law. Nevertheless in 2014 there has been direct foreign investment in Bulgaria from Austria in the amount of 290,7 mil €. Nearly 10% of the biggest foreign investors are companies from Austria like TelekomAustria, EVN, UniCredit/BankAustria, Knauf, Raiffeisen, OMV, REWE/Billa, WienerStädtischeVersicherung, UNIQA, Strabag and VAE. The popularity can also be seen in tourism. In 2014 174,899 Austrian nationals have visited Bulgaria, an 39.4% increase in comparison to 2013.

Bulgarians at the business location Austria

Conversely there is also interest. The Austrian market is highly coveted among Bulgarian businessmen. The good business climate, the qualified personnel and modern infrastructure, the strategic location between east and west, excellent living conditions as well as a high level of personal, political and legal safety and stability are deciding factors.

According to Straka Bulgarian businessmen are known to be friendly, appreciate Austria and Austrian companies and are highly interested in a cooperation.

In comparison to the Austrians the Bulgarians prefer to import a finished product. The reasons are high labour costs and taxes. Because of that mainly small offices are opened in Austria and simultaneously the favourable-priced Bulgarian resources are used. Also the worldwide known Bulgarian company Walltopia, which is famous for the production of climbing walls, is now doing active business in Austria for more that three years.

According to Hauser the future aim is to maintain the excellent relationship between these two countries through as many concrete projects as possible. He exemplary names the joint preparation for the presidency of the European Union which will be exercised by Bulgaria and Austria successively in 2018/19 as well as the 20th jubilee of the Austrian Music Weeks in Bulgaria 2016.

Roland Hauser
Ambassador  Mag. Roland Hauser (Source: Austrian Embassy in Sofia)

Mag. Roland Hauser finished historical studies, Romance philology studies, philosophy studies as well as his degree study program at the diplomatic academy Vienna. After being Austrian ambassador in Qatar, Kenya and Kuwait he is now ambassador of the Republic Austria in Bulgaria since September 2014. He describes his indeed positive Bulgarian impressions in the latest issue of the Wirtschaftsblatt.

Unemployment in Bulgaria 2011 to 2013

The continuously high unemployment rate in Bulgaria has proven to be a persistent problem, but this is no exception to the general trend in Europe. In the following lines, we will try to go into some details concerning the latest labour trend, which we have posted earlier about:

How the phenomenon is being measured?

The unemployment rate is the percentage of unemployed from the total number of civilian work force, which is basically defined by the population size. The unemployment rate is an essential part of the unemployment statistics, because it is an indicator of the labour market and entire employment situation.

The data presented below is based on research of the Bulgarian Institute for Statistics and provides information about how unemployment has developed within the period 2011-2013.

Unemployment in Bulgaria 2011-2013
Unemployment in Bulgaria 2011-2013

Trends on Bulgaria’s labour-market

For 2011, the unemployment rate of the population aged 15 to 64 years is 11.4% and this percentage is continuously increasing over time. Until 2013 the share of unemployed people in the same age group has increased by 1.6%. It should be noted that this rate is always 2 to 3% higher for men than for women.

According to the figures supplied by the National Statistics Institute, in 2011 the unemployment rate of the population aged 15 to 29 amounts to 19.1%. In the following year this percentage has increased to 20.8% and in 2013 it reached a peak of 21.8% .

2013 in quarters

In order to represent the tendency more detailed, we will divide the year 2013 into quarters. In the first quarter of 2013, unemployment rate in Bulgaria was 13.8%. Subsequently, a decrease is recorded down to 12% in the third quarter. During the last three months, the rate has increased again by 1%. If we analyze the data by age, it is noticeable that the highest unemployment rate – 28.4% – is being observed among the representatives of the group 15-24 years, i.e. amongst the youngest working-population. In contrast, only 10.1% of the labour force aged 35-54 are unemployed.

Upturn on labour market in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian labour market is gradually picking up, reports the National Employment Agency. During the current year 2013, over 178 thousand people have started a new job. The sheer number of workers who have acquired their jobs thanks to an employment program of the Agency has climbed by twenty thousand in comparison with the previous year.

35 psychologists and qualified managers have already been assigned in the job centres of all regional cities. They have the responsibility to professionally assist the job-seekers with overcoming their psychological barriers and gaining more self-confidence. Kamelia Nikolova, one of the psychologists at the employment office explained: “Most of the people who come to us are insecure and frustrated. Very often they have even lost their hope of ever finding a job”.

The currently employed psychologists and managers were initially registered as unemployed themselves. For this reason, they should be considered as an example of how the shortage of vacancies can be overcome, of course, not without the necessary motivation and support. To the measures undertaken by the Ministry of Labour and Social policy belongs also the Program for activation of unemployed with an yearly budget of 600 thousand Leva. However, the labour market still has to face the challenge to provide adequate working positions for qualified young people. This involves a long-term strategic planning, as well as a much stronger cooperation between companies and educational institutions.

A specific action aimed at such a result is the Ministry of Education Program for student internships, which strives to create a symbiosis between universities and business. Meanwhile, it was announced that the most desired occupations for the current year would be those of accountants, system administrators and sales representatives. This show the results of a survey carried out by the consulting companies CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI).

OECD criticizes Germany over low high-skilled immigration rate

The publication of an OECD report on the immigration of foreign workers to the German labor market has prompted keen media interest over the last few days.

After we reported only last week about the lack of sufficient interest of German IT companies to searching for qualified staff abroad, we are now presenting a comprehensive economical study of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

The study describes that the access to the German labor market as relatively easy (compared to other OECD member countries). Yet numbers suggest that in Germany, in spite of the alleged shortage of skilled workers, the market share of labor migrants from outside the EU and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) accounts for a fifth and even tenth of the share of other studied countries such as Australia, Denmark, Canada and the United Kingdom.

SMEs account for considerable difficulties with migrant workers

The situation with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) could be described as problematic. These types of businesses often encounter serious difficulties in finding suitable staff from abroad, which is apparent from the graph illustrating the results of the surveyed companies. .

Indeed, the shortage of skill workers is far more common in SMEs than in larger firms,

In contrast to big companies, SMEs have no international intercompany personnel exchange to facilitate recruitment of expat employees.Therefore the report recommends employers – especially SMEs – put more effort into looking for qualified personnel aboard if they cannot meet their need for skilled workers on the local labor market, the OECD says.

One of the many explanations of the problematic situation is that both at home and aboard the German immigration system is perceived as restrictive and difficult to access, argues the OECD report.

OECD recommends coining of an immigration strategy

Yves Leterme, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, advised for a consistent immigration policy during the presentation of the study on 4 February 2013 in Berlin. Without such an approach, meeting the projected shortage of skilled workers would be difficult: ‘The prosperity of Germany is largely dependent on whether it will be able to stay competitive despite its aging population.’

Read the full OEDC study ‘Immigration of foreign workers: Germany’ by clicking on the PDF thumb below.

German IT companies barely looking for staff abroad

Over the last two years at least one in five German IT companies has had to refuse a client request owing to lack or shortage of qualified personnel. In spite of this, few companies have considered the opportunity for looking for qualified IT staff abroad: a total of 85% of the IT firms that participated in a survey of the situation of the job market conducted by and CeBIT said that they have neither hired staff from abroad, nor have ever considered it as an option. Some 200 German IT-companies took part in the study presented by the Personalwirtschaft journal in a recent publication which outlines its main findings.

The article refers to the study’s conclusions that companies are calling for simplification of the processes for recognition of foreign university degrees. Another issue that firms have unanimously pointed out is easing the conditions for entering and staying in Germany.

Germany’s IT industry could be left out of the global ‘War for Talents’

The situation with German IT companies active in the field of employer branding is slightly different. According to the survey, some 64% of these companies are willing to attract more applicants (and to set incentives for their core workforce to stay with the company) through increasing salaries. Some 69% of the firms have stated readiness to boost the employment appeal of their jobs in order to attract new personnel.

Flexible recruitment called for

Long-term success could be guaranteed only through combining several employment channels. In addition to increasing their attractiveness as an employer or in developing an employer brand, in 2013 the firms in the German IT sector should start actively searching for and contracting expatriate staff. This would not only lead to filling in vacancies, but also to stabilizing labor costs, since the wage expectations of foreign applicants are usually lower than those of their German counterparts.