December 20, 2018 / 10:38 AM / 8 months ago

Croatia raises foreign workers quota over skills shortages

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia on Thursday raised the number of licenses for foreign workers in 2019 in an effort to make up for shortages of skilled domestic workers, notably in construction and tourism.

“Our priority is to employ the local workforce but when it is not possible we will open the way for seeking workers from abroad,” Labour Minister Marko Pavic told a cabinet session.

The overall number of licenses for foreign workers from countries outside the European Union has been raised to 65,100 from the 38,769 that are valid for this year.

Local employers have recently put pressure on the government to raise the quota, complaining that many businesses cannot find enough workers, mostly in the tourism, construction, retail, manufacturing and transport sectors.

Croatia’s economy is growing at slightly below three percent annually and tourism accounts for almost 20 percent of output.

However, many analysts warn that Croatia is not an overly attractive destination compared to more affluent European Union peers, given its proximity to Austria or Germany where many job-seekers from non-EU Balkan states seek work.

An average monthly salary in Croatia in September amounted to 6,195 kuna ($958.13). The unemployment rate in October was 9.1 percent which analysts say is relatively high given the labor shortages.

Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Jon Boyle

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