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Ekonomia

REL analysis: "In line for the Filipinos", Albania prepares for the recruitment of tens of thousands of foreign workers

REL analysis: "In line for the Filipinos", Albania prepares for the

Albania, for years, suffers from a lack of labor force. To alleviate this problem, the Government is in negotiations with the Philippines for an agreement that would bring thousands of workers. Business representatives - mainly from the tourism and manufacturing sectors, which face a significant shortage of workers - say they welcome this step. Experts and activists are not all in one mind: for some, such an agreement is overdue, and for others it does not guarantee success.

Current data on the website of the National Employment and Training Agency show that businesses have announced 5,500 vacancies. The number of job seekers, meanwhile, is about 74 thousand, according to the Institute of Statistics.

Albania "in line" for workers from the Philippines

During a meeting with business representatives a few days ago, representatives of the Ministry of Economy in Albania announced that the Government is in negotiations to bring qualified foreign workers. "The Ministry of Economy is making good efforts to get quality employees from the foreign market. What I am saying as a young woman that will happen very soon, is that we are at the end of a contract with a state that has qualified employees in several industries, including tourism, but also clothing", said Albin Gega, general director of Employment and Vocational Education in the Ministry of Economy.

He said that this agreement will enable, in addition to training and increasing the quality of workers, to meet the needs of the market for qualified employees. Then it was the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, who announced which country it is about. "We are negotiating with the Philippines. If you look at the list of countries from Austria and other countries... it's full. Thirty-eight European countries are in line to sign agreements with the Philippines on the labor side," said Rama.

He did not talk about numbers, but business representatives and employment experts say that 30-40 thousand qualified workers are being discussed. Referring to the official figures of the Ministry of the Interior of Albania, from 2019 to 2023, 24,590 work permits were granted to foreign citizens, but there is no data on how many of them are currently in Albania. Most of them come from Turkey, Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Italy. They are mainly employed in the tourism, manufacturing and construction sectors.

Why do young people choose to work outside Albania?

A study by the "Economic and Social Studies" center, published three years ago, showed that the 18-40-year-old age group and the most educated part of them want to leave Albania for "a dignified job, better wages and conditions good". The study also pointed to the reversal of almost all trends. Thus, if in 2007 the tendency was for unqualified and uneducated people to emigrate, in 2019 it turned out that more people with secondary and professional education wanted to migrate, and especially those with university education.

Also, the target is no longer Italy or Greece, but Germany and the United Kingdom. Yes, according to the study, young people who study abroad do not want to return.

But what are the reasons?

Aurora Barçi, born and raised in Burrel, left Albania in 2010 and began her studies at the University of Turin in Italy, in the "Banking, Stock Exchange and Insurance" branch. "Italy had many financial advantages and offered scholarships, as well as very good conditions for students, such as: comfortable dormitories, quality food at reduced prices in university canteens, minimal taxes for students receiving scholarships, subscription to public transport and health insurance at a reduced price," says Aurora.

"Another advantage was the additional study scholarships, which gave students the opportunity to work in different university facilities, such as: computer labs, information offices, etc. These scholarships ranged from 100 to 300 hours a year and were awarded on the basis of meritocracy, with payments from 9 to 11 euros per hour," she tells Radio Free Europe. He also says that precisely the lack of meritocracy in Albania was a reason for him to leave and not think about returning. "Germany, where I currently live for seven years, offers good working conditions, a minimum wage of 12.41 euros per hour and regular working hours - eight hours a day. Rest days, payment for overtime, annual leave, maternity leave are respected...", says Aurora.

"Unfortunately for us, Albania is far from this standard", according to her. Even Eneda Tollja, who recently completed her studies in England, says that she does not think of returning to Albania. "I work as a supervisor in a restaurant. Of course, I aim for another job related to my education. I came as a master's student, after I completed my bachelor's in Albania for the Economics branch," she says. "I don't think of going back, because I know that here in Birmingham the opportunities are great, I have invested a lot in myself. I don't know how much my investment will be valued for myself if I return, salaries are not good in Albania", says Eneda for Radio Free Europe.

In Albania, according to official data, the average salary is 75,000 ALL or 750 euros. However, 60 percent of employees have a salary lower than the average.

Business suffers for workers, welcomes agreement

Biznesi në manifakturë, apo prodhim veshjesh e këpucësh, është ndër sektorët me më shumë mungesa të punonjësve. Florian Zekja, nga shoqata “Pro-Eksport” që përmbledh biznese të manifakturës, thotë se marrëveshja me Filipinet do të jetë një zgjidhje e mirë për biznesin, që nuk po gjen dot punonjës të kualifikuar. “Që një punëtor, një i ri ka ambicie të ikë dhe të punojë jashtë vendit, nuk ka asnjë gjë të keqe... të shkojë ku është më mirë për të. Nuk mendoj se biznesi, në përgjithësi, nuk siguron pagë dhe kushte sipas vendeve të punës. Por, për këtë boshllëk të krijuar, sigurisht që duhet gjetur një zgjidhje se si të plotësohet. Në këtë kuptim, biznesi e mirëpret një marrëveshje shtetërore për punëtorë”, thotë Zekja për Radion Evropa e Lirë.

Jeta Hoxha, drejtuese e një agjencie turistike në Shqipëri, thotë se me bumin turistik që po përjeton Shqipëria, mungesa e punëtorëve në këtë sektor është problem i madh. “Kjo [me Filipinet] është një zgjidhje mjaft e mirë, sepse na ka ndodhur shpesh që punëtorë nga vende të treta janë larguar, por fakti se do të jetë shteti në mes, mendoj se është njëfarë garancie që të mos largohen”, thotë ajo për Radion Evropa e Lirë.

Ekspertët: Nismë e vonuar dhe suksesi nuk është i sigurt

Eksperti i ekonomisë në Shqipëri, Fatos Çoçoli, e sheh marrëveshjen që pritet, si të vonuar. “...por, më mirë vonë se kurrë”, thotë ai. “Vendet përreth nesh, si Mali i Zi, Maqedonia e Veriut apo Serbia, këto marrëveshje i kanë realizuar prej vitesh. Na duhet fuqi punëtore e re, e kualifikuar. Kontratat do të jenë në nivel të ministrive, kështu që janë garancitë e duhura”, thotë Çoçoli për Radion Evropa e Lirë. Edhe ekspertja e punësimit, Kumrije Zika, e sheh të nevojshme një marrëveshje të tillë, edhe pse nuk është e bindur plotësisht në suksesin e saj. Ajo është e mendimit se shteti shqiptar, ndër vite, duhej të kishte ndërmarrë hapa për t’i mbështetur punëtorët shqiptarë dhe për t’u ofruar paga e kushte pune më të mira.

“Në momentin që marrëveshja është ndërshtetërore, sigurisht që punëtori nuk mund ta përdorë vendin tonë si transit, pasi vjen në kuadër të kësaj marrëveshjeje. Ajo vjen në një moment që biznesi ka nevojë dhe interes për të”. “Në këtë rast, nuk shihet interesi i punëtorit shqiptar, por i biznesit dhe shtetit. Nëse do të shihej interesi i punëtorëve shqiptarë ndër vite, atyre do t’u ofroheshin paga më të larta, apo strehim, siç u ofrohet të huajve”, thotë Zika për Radion Evropa e Lirë. Sipas saj, mbetet të shihet nëse marrëveshja e pritshme, do të jetë e suksesshme.