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Ljuba Jakić, Managing Director, Insignitus Gold Serbia

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Bojana Rudović, Marketing Director At Bekament

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Ivan Stanojević, Owner, Stantech d.o.o.

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Erich Cossutta, President, Dragon Maritime Group

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Jelena Bojović, Director Of The Centre For The Fourth Industrial Revolution

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Sarita Bradash Researcher At The Centre For Democracy Foundation, CDF

Nobody Is Chasing A Bad Life

For whom could Serbia be an attractive destination when it has the lowest earnings in europe, which don’t even allow the majority of employed citizens in this country to make ends meet without struggling?

From the aspect of basic labour market indicators (rates of employment, unemployment, activity and inactivity), we are certainly recording improvements. However, one should bear in mind that the increase in employment rates is largely a result of a reduction in the working age population. Compared to 2014, there are 361,600 fewer workers. On the other hand, the improvement of indicators is mirrored by a decrease in the quality of employment: the share of employees with permanent contracts is decreasing; the share of precarious employment (self-employed and helpers of household members) is extremely high; hundreds of thousands of people work in the informal sector, while most employees don’t earn sufficient funds to ensure a decent standard of living.

When it comes to ways to resolve the labour shortage problem, we should consider that there has been no relevant research in Serbia on occupations that are lacking, nor are forecasts of future needs conducted. However, I don’t believe that automation could be an option – not only because of the structure of the economy (where low and medium-low technology activities dominate), but rather also because of the low level of business sector investment in research.

Despite the general improving of labour market indicators, the unfavourable position of women and young people is not changing. If we compare Serbia to eu countries, it is still languishing at the bottom of the scale for these indicators

According to Eurostat data, such investments amounted to just €23 per capita in 2019, which is 50 times less than investments in Sweden, 15 times less than in Slovenia, seven times less than in Hungary and half the level of investment in Bulgaria. With regard to the “import” of labour, the question that should be answered is ‘for whom does Serbia represent an attractive destination when it has the lowest earnings in Europe – earnings that don’t even allow the majority of employed citizens of this country to make ends meet without struggling?’.

Let’s recall that the authorities of this country haven’t even succeeded in finding a solution for their own freelancers, so I don’t see how they would be more successful with nomads. The fact that you earn more than you spend isn’t the only decisive factor in deciding where you will do business. Quality of life, functioning institutions and the rule of law are just some of the factors influencing such a decision, and each of the factors in that equation has a negative sign in Serbia.

When it comes to achieving a state of circular migration, that depends on several factors. If there is no change when it comes to the reasons why tens of thousands of people leave Serbia every year, it will not be possible to entice those same people to return. Let me remind you of some of those reasons: an inability to find an appropriate and well-paid job; corruption; nepotism; a lack of the rule of law; dysfunctional institutions; poor quality education (from preschool onwards); low quality of healthcare protection.

Comment by Zoran Panović

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