Experts and politicians considered how labour migration affects the Estonian economy
A seminar was held at Eesti Pank on Friday to discuss how labour migration affects the future of the Estonian economy. The seminar discussed the latest migration trends in Estonia, and Norway’s experience of immigration. There were also two discussion panels of experts and businesspeople and the seminar ended with a debate between parliamentarians about labour migration.
Estonia has for six years now been a country to which more people come to live and work each year than leave. “As we have changed from being a country of emigration to a country of immigration, we need to ask ourselves how we want the economy to develop. We know that without immigration there will be fewer people of working age each year in Estonia, but is this only a problem or also an opportunity? Labour migration is a multifaceted topic, so we wanted to give a platform for detailed discussion and bring together as many different viewpoints as possible”, said Governor of Eesti Pank Madis Müller.
The central bank Governor said there are many different aspects to consider with labour migration, because the needs of, for example, agriculture and the IT sector are very different. How foreign workers impact the Estonian labour market can also differ widely depending whether they have come for a short time or a long time. “One way of looking at immigration is whether a worker coming from abroad replaces a local worker or complements the skills and knowledge of the people already in the local labour market”, he added.
In the first half of the seminar, Professor Tiit Tammaru of the University of Tartu spoke about trends in migration in Estonia, and Orsolya Soosaar, an economist at central bank, spoke about how immigration affects the labour market. Professor Andreas Moxnes of the University of Oslo spoke about Norway’s experience of immigration from Central and Eastern Europe after the expansion of the European Union in 2004.
This was followed by three discussion panels, in the first of which Arto Aas of the Estonian Employers’ Confederation, Ruth Annus from the Ministry of the Interior, Sten Andreas Ehrlich from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Peep Peterson of the Estonian Trade Union Confederation, and Yngve Rosenblad of the labour and skills forecasting system OSKA discussed the open labour market and local employees.
The second panel was a discussion of foreign and local labour in business with Tiit Kuuli of Oma Ehitaja, Triin Ploompuu of the Federation of Estonian Engineering Industry, Roomet Sõrmus of the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, Kadi Tamkõrv from Nortal Group, and Martin Villig of Bolt and Kood/Jõhvi.
The third panel saw politicians focus on the present and future of labour migration in Estonia. The participants in it were Tanel Kiik of the Estonian Centre Party, Urmas Reinsalu of Isamaa, Riina Sikkut of the Social Democratic Party, Andres Sutt of the Estonian Reform Party, and Jaak Valge of the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia.