The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) estimates that builders in the country need 3,000 foreign workers to compensate for the drain of qualified workers from Croatia, the HGK said on Thursday.
"There has been a major drain of qualified workers from Croatia lately, particularly masons, carpenters, tilers and similar trades," the HGK says in a press release.
It warns that the lack of workers in these trades is becoming a limiting factor for the development of the Croatian construction industry and the economy in general.
Despite vacancy advertisements, builders cannot replace workers who have emigrated because there simply are not enough qualified workers, the HGK says.
The HGK warns that over the past few years more than 53,000 jobs were lost in the construction sector and that the share of construction in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been reduced from 8.5% to 4.4%. Over the past few years the scope of construction works has been reduced by 46.6% and the value of construction has decreased by 49.3%. The number of apartments built has declined by 69.2%. The percentage of building permits issued has dropped by 46.3%.
Construction has been virtually halved and we can hardly expect any recovery without importing workers as a temporary measure until a proper labour market has been established in Croatia, the HGK says.
This is a short-term measure whereas in the long run it is necessary to set up a platform for a work-and-study scheme and encourage life-long learning.
According to available figures, in 2015 there were 86,740 workers in the construction sector, i.e. 6.6% of the total number of workers. According to figures provided by the Croatian Employment Service, in 2015 there were 21,394 unemployed construction workers whereas in 2008 that number was 15,425.
The average net wage in construction in 2015 was HRK 4,881, which was 14.5% lower than the average net wage in the Croatian economic sector.