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Aivars Tabuns and Sanita Vanaga, Riga

1. Introduction

Two challenges face the Latvian labour market. On the one hand, the transition to a market economy requires serious structural and institutional reforms. On the other hand, the Latvian economy, labour market, and educational system must adapt to the increasingly rapid process of globalisation. In today’s increasingly competitive environment organisations are becoming unstable, and this has an impact on the way people work. They work more and more, often managing more than one job, changing jobs, and moving from regular employment into short-term project type work. In these circumstances employment is no longer long-term and secure, but instead it often becomes fragmented.

In the coming years the situation on the labour market could be aggravated by the development of new technologies on a global scale and the limited financial potential for Latvia’s businesses to take advantage of these developments in order to increase their own competitive advantage. If this does take place, Latvia is threatened by long-term technological backwardness. As Latvia has liberalised trade with the EU countries and joined the World Trade Organisation, local industries are facing increased competition. As a result, some sectors of Latvia’s economy may no longer be competitive, and many people could lose their jobs.

Today’s working life provides not only ways in which to prove oneself, but also creates insecurity and stress. Risk has become part of working. This means that people must constantly keep themselves in top form in order to retain their competitive

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edge in the labour market. As the following shows, this often happens at the expense of one’s health, family, and free time, in reality narrowing and even damaging other important opportunities in life. The remuneration for this work is often low, and even if money can be made, this does not always compensate for personal losses.

Many employed people as well as job seekers do not understand what is taking place on the labour market, how it is developing, and how this applies to them as they shape their own personal employability. As a result, a significant part of society continues to link its economic failures and aspirations with state economic policy and does not want to take the initiative and responsibility for its own welfare, career, and ability to compete.

Not only the technologies of the Soviet period, but also the work habits and values learned under socialism have proven to be ill suited to the demands of modern markets. People are not always capable of critically evaluating the reasons why many enterprises are being closed down or why workers have been made redundant. Even today a significant portion of society blames their companies’ inability to compete in the market economy on national economic policy rather than on the inability of the company or its workers to adapt to market demands and withstand the pressures of competition. The results of various surveys show that respondents most often see improvements in the economy as dependent on the government’s macroeconomic policies (most often understood as an active policy of protectionism). Microeconomic issues, such as the role of entrepreneurship in the economy, efficient production, workers’ skills, motivation, innovation, product quality and design, are not accorded the importance they deserve.

Paternalistic interpretations of economic processes are widespread in society and could have a dangerous effect on the course of the transition period. They create favourable condi-

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tions for a statist economy and a corresponding political system with authoritarian tendencies, while providing few incentives for economic actors to deal with problems themselves, as far as their means and abilities allow. All of these contradictions, if they are not limited and balanced, can become obstacles to human development.

Currently, the labour market in Latvia is unbalanced in a number of ways. Long working hours for those who are employed contrast with limited opportunities to find a job for those who are not. There are inequalities in access to employment between men and women, between regions, and between those who speak Latvian and those who do not. The low level of wages does not correspond to the heavy demands of work. There is a mismatch between employers’ demand for skilled employees, their current availability, and the educational system’s capacity to produce skilled employees for the professions that are promising and in high demand. There is also a contradiction between the growing market pressure for a mobile labour force and the inability of many employed people to be „mobile" both in their jobs and their careers. Modern economies are dynamic, but stable and secure employment, as well as decent working conditions, understandably remain very important to people.

2. Changes in Labour Market

At the beginning of the nineties the rapid fall in production and the structural changes in the national economy placed significant pressure on the labour market. The number of people who lost their job or were unable to find employment rose significantly. As a result the number of job seekers among the economically active population, the level of poverty, and the extent of social exclusion all remain high. A survey by the Latvian Employers’ Confederation showed that the labour market may change even more in the near future as demand for workers in

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the agricultural and industrial sectors falls (due to the modernisation of production) while demand in the service industries and construction sector grows.

The tendency of reduction of economically active population has taken place since 1990. According to Central Statistical Bureau data, 49% of Latvia’s permanent residents were economically active in 1997, and 85% of that number were employed. It should be pointed out that since the beginning of the nineties the number of people who are economically active has decreased considerably, by almost 200,000 - from 1,416,300 in 1990 to 1,217,500 in 1997 (Labour in Latvia, 1998).

Figure 1

Dynamics of the number of economically active and employed in national economy 1990-1997

Undisplayed Graphic

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The proportion of economically active people in the population has also fallen. This is due to both emigration and a radical decline of natural growth of population. The number of employed people during the mentioned period of time has gradually gone down as a result of restructuring of national economy, loss of solvent markets in the CIS countries and slow adjustment to requirements of the Western market.

Currently, 544 thousand (54%) work in services, 272 thousand (27%) - in industry and construction, 188 thousand (19%) - in agriculture and fishing. 34% of the labour force was employed in the public sector in 1997. Pay in the private sector is higher than in the public sector. The situation is similar to that in other countries: by paying higher wages the private sector can always attract workers and choose them from a larger applicant pool. In organisations dependent for funding on the state budget pay increases are entirely dependent upon the size of the state budget.

In the last few years the structure of the labour force has changed as the number of employees decreased and the number of self-employed people increased. Thus, in November 1995 37,200 men and 20,300 women were self-employed, but the number of self-employed men had risen to 53,200 and the number of women to 43,900 by November 1997. During this time the unpaid employment of family members and relatives also increased from 46,600 in 1995 to 59,700 in 1997 (Statistical Yearbook, 1998).

According to the Central Statistical Bureau’s Labour Force Survey, 10% of the labour force spends an average of 9 to 11 hours every day working at their main job, while 12% work an average of 11 or more hours daily. In other words, every fifth worker works overtime at their principal job. These numbers are particularly high among employers, the self-employed, and among those who work without pay in their own families. 5% have taken on another job, but 6% are looking for additional

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work. The number of hours that people spend on these other jobs is rather large: an average of 18 hours per week. The Central Statistical Bureau’s survey included the question whether people would be willing to work more hours if that would increase their earnings. While the majority of people did not want to change their working hours, the percentage of people who would be willing to work longer hours for higher pay was also significant (33%). Only 5% wanted to work less (Labour in Latvia, 1998).

As shown by the Central Statistical Bureau and the Institute of Economics time budget surveys, working people have very high total workloads. This is particularly true of families with children of pre-school age. As a result, the opportunities for employed people to spend time with their families and children are rather limited. For example, women aged 20 to 29 devote an average of 70 minutes a day to child care (physical care, supervision, engaging in activities with children, or taking them to activities), while women aged 30 to 39 spend an average of 40 minutes per day on child care. Men from this age group devote an average of 24 minutes per day to children. On average employed men spend less than three minutes per day on personal education, while women average four minutes. These, however, are only averages. According to the survey data, people living in rural regions do not spend any time at all on personal education.

On the other hand, 13% of the labour force is working only part-time. Moreover, 63% of these people are working part-time involuntarily, either because this was the only available work (66%) or because of decisions by management (25%). This type of mandatory part-time work is most widespread in agriculture, forestry, the processing industries, and trade (Eglite, 1998).

The long working hours of the labour force also shed light on other contradictions of the labour market. While some people are working a great deal for a relatively small wage, a significant portion of the economically active population is currently seek-

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ing work. Moreover, a very large proportion of this group has been unemployed for a long time. This indicates that a large number of people of working age are unable to adapt even to the current demands of the labour market.

Sociological surveys show that many workplaces are currently characterised by insecurity and stress. One out of every five employed people feels that there is a good chance that within a year they may lose their job, while one in three consider this a serious possibility. Fearing they may lose their job and their livelihood, a large proportion of employees overwork themselves and do not devote sufficient time for improving their skills or for personal education.

Foundation of market economy and good macroeconomics preconditions for the growth of national economy (low inflation, small state debt, etc.) have been created during the insofar reforms. GDP continued growing in the first half of 1998 (by 6.4% compared to the respective period in the preceding year), unemployment went down, real wages and pensions became bigger. Due to growth of economic activity the number of employed went up in 1997 and at the beginning of 1998 (Economic Development of Latvia, 1998).

The instability of the global economy and, in particular, the economic crisis in Russia also affect both employers and employees in Latvia negatively. Since 1998, economic growth has been affected by the financial crisis. Disability of Russia to fulfil its financial liabilities has paralysed economic relations with the neighbouring state and essentially decreased export opportunities. With reduction of exports to Russia industrial companies were forced to narrow outputs and lay off workers. Due to the mentioned reasons the registered unemployment as percent from the economically active population went up from 7.2% to 10.1 % from July 1998 to the end of March 1999. In Riga for the first time since 1992 the unemployment rate exceeded 4%. In Vent-

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spils (port city) where until now the unemployment rate was the lowest in the country, it reached 6. 4% in November 1998 (Economic Development of Latvia, 1998). Now the government faces different challenges: how to organise the necessary training and retraining; how to adapt social legislation to take account of new employment trends; how to provide adequate support to SME.

3. Unemployed Job Seekers

In 1997, 14.8% of the economically active population of Latvia were unemployed job seekers2. The competitive advantage of certain demographic groups within the labour market is highlighted by the number of people within these groups who are looking for work. In 1997 almost 38,000 job seekers were young people between 15 and 24, that is, one in five job seekers in Latvia was a young person. While job seekers make up between 11 and 15% of other age groups, in the 15 to 19 age group they account for more than one third. The fact that 45% of job seekers have no work experience underlines the difficulties involved with entering the labour market. 77,000 people seeking work in 1997 had no previous experience. Some 12,600 of them were without work after graduation or after having left school. This indicates that the education system and the labour market are not in balance (Statistical Yearbook of Latvia, 1998).

Comparing economically active people with different levels of education, it can be seen that those with either a university or a secondary vocational education make up a smaller proportion of job seekers. According to the results of labour force research, the proportion of job seekers is particularly high in cities. Latvia’s eastern regions have the most unfavourable labour market situation of all the rural areas. More than half of all job seekers with work experience lost their jobs due to the liquidation of their work place or to employee layoffs.

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When asked to state their reasons for changing jobs, the most common responses include the opportunity to work at a better job somewhere else, unsatisfactory working conditions and low salary, or the desire to start up one’s own business. Factors which were rated most important for a successful career included a good education, followed by diligence and hard work, personal contacts, and access to capital. Less frequently mentioned factors included a willingness to take risks, ethnic background, family status, and political affiliation (Consolidation of Democracy, 1998).

Although Latvia does not have a high number of registered unemployed people, the fact that in 1997 only one third of the 91,300 registered unemployed people received unemployment benefits must be critically examined3. Many job seekers do not register with the State Employment Service not because they have found work but because their eligibility for unemployment benefits has expired. Information of the State Social Insurance Fund testifies that in September 1998 compared to September 1997 unemployment benefits have gone up in the average by 26% and reached 40.15 lats (68 USD). A certain role in such increase was played by the procedure of payment of unemployment benefits changed in 1997 calculating them depending from the earlier earned wage (Statistical Yearbook of Latvia, 1998).

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Figure 2

Unemployment rate 1994-1998

Undisplayed Graphic

The percentage of women (59%) and young people among the unemployed is fairly high. Differences in composition of the unemployed with the view to nationalities in the total number of residents are very small and are mainly linked with the development problems of sectors of national economy where representatives of one or another nationality mostly work. Latvians basically work in agricultural processing companies, fishing, wood industry, etc. and Russian speakers - in machine building,

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radio-technical companies, etc. However, it must be pointed out that since 1994 the share of Latvians in the total number of registered unemployed has risen from 47% till 52% at the end of September 1998, at the same time the number of unemployed Russians has gone down from 37% to 35% (Economic Development of Latvia, 1998).

The highest unemployment is still in the Eastern regions of Latvia. The highest growth of unemployment rate in 1998 was in regions and cities occupied with production of fish and in areas influenced by the Russian crisis. Also elsewhere the increase of the number of registered unemployed was mainly linked with loss of sales opportunities.

There is still quite a big number of long-term unemployed. At the end of September 1997 the share of long term unemployed was 38% of the total number of registered unemployed whereas at the beginning of January 1999 - 26%. According to the opinion poll carried out by the Central Statistical Bureau in May 1998, 28% of job seekers (including also unregistered) could not find a job for 1 to 2 years and the same number - for 3 years and more. The CSB survey shows that the average length of time that the surveyed job seekers have been out of work is twenty months. Most of the long-term unemployed have lost hope to find a job. Many of them have a low level of general education and do not have a profession or speciality. The prolonged job-seeking period indicates that a certain part of the population has difficulty in adapting to the requirements of the free market, and that the pace of re-qualification is slow. That is to say, the job seekers lack flexibility and mobility (Labour in Latvia, 1998).

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Figure 3

Job seekers by duration of job seeking, 1998

Undisplayed Graphic

The results of the labour force survey show that the main ways people look for work include registering at the State Employment Service (27%), reading job advertisements (24%) and through family and friends (22%). A significant number of job seekers have directly approached prospective employers (15%) or have turned to private services for assistance (8%) (Statistical Yearbook of Latvia, 1998). Few job seekers place their own advertisements in the newspaper, attempt to set up their own company, or start working on their own.

At present, forty seven companies have received a licence from the Ministry of Welfare to help people find work in Latvia. Four have received a licence to help people find work abroad. However, there is no information on how many people have found work with the help of these organisations. The mass media play a relatively large role in spreading information about

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available jobs. As shown in a survey of the unemployed, the mass media rate second only to recommendations from friends and acquaintances as a means of finding work. However, the unemployed have also sometimes been disappointed by job offers found in the mass media because they have become victims of fraud.

An analysis of the factors which have helped people find work leads to the conclusion that presently there is insufficient co-operation between employers and the State Employment Service. Employers often advertise jobs in the mass media without informing SES, despite the fact that they are obliged to do so by law. This is because employers wish to recruit their employees from the qualified specialists who are already employed, as opposed to hiring the unemployed. It would be useful to organise meetings between employer associations and SES more often, in order to discuss how to expedite the process of bringing together employers and potential employees and how to facilitate employers’ searches for qualified employees.

Both the large number of job seekers and the length of time they have been without work lead to the conclusion that national employment policy in Latvia needs to be more active and to take advantage of the experience of other European countries.

4. Labour Market Policy

In the Declaration on Planned Activities the Government has projected to address issues of employment based on professional orientation at school, adapting of vocational training system to the needs of the labour market, life-long learning, development of alternative businesses and crafts, active employment measures - retraining, temporary public work, on-the-job apprenticeship of young people, etc. and support for starting of entrepreneurial activity among the unemployed.

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The main organisation responsible for unemployment policy is the State Employment Service (SES), which co-operates with different state institutions, professional associations and educational establishments. According to the Law on Employment, one of the goals of SES is the mediation function in training, up-grading and retraining of specialists. SES gathers and analyses information on employers’ forecast on demand for employees in the future, compares the number of unemployed in distinct specialities and the number of vacant jobs registered in SES, analyses all accessible data on labour market and the success of trained unemployed in finding a job.

With the help of the State Employment Service, 13,195 job seekers found work in 1998. That is 12% of the unemployed people registered with SES during this period. Job seekers are directed only to those employers who have registered job vacancies with SES. Unfortunately, SES does not have data on whether employees who have found a job with the assistance of SES remain at these jobs and for how long.

The highest demand in the labour market according to the data of SES is for skilled workers and craftsmen, workers of services and trade, specialists with good theoretical knowledge and practical work experience. In turn, the highest supply in the labour market is that of unskilled workers, which constitute 27% of the total number of unemployed. Job seekers with no qualifications cannot find jobs at all. At the end of September 1998 the number of such job-seekers constituted almost 5% of the total number of unemployed. The discrepancy between the supply and demand of labour in the labour market reduced the opportunity to fill the free jobs declared by employers.

The objective of State Employment Service (SES) is to organise training courses for the unemployed; to help them find work; to organise Job Seekers Clubs and to fund public work. In 1998, 12 358 unemployed people took part in public work (11%

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of the total number of unemployed). In 1998, SES sent 16 602 unemployed people (14.8 % of the total number of unemployed) to be retrained or to improve their skills. Unemployed people aged 20 to 40 are most likely to be interested in improving their professional qualifications. An example of successful co-operation between SES and employers is the organisation of training courses for the unemployed on the basis of employer requests. In 1998 SES announced a tender for institutions that could offer training courses for the unemployed, as a result of which 71 educational institutions were chosen.

Laudably, 30% of the unemployed persons who express a desire to re-qualify or to improve their qualifications are assigned to a course by State Employment Service within a month, and 43% are given such opportunity in one to three months (Job Seeker Training, 1999). The data of the survey show that the majority of those attending a course are satisfied with its quality. Still, the attendees are often dissatisfied with the quality of teaching materials and with the limited opportunities to acquire practical skills. In addition, the attendees are rather self-critical about their ability to be active on the labour market. According to the data of course lecturers’ survey, the lecturers’ work is seriously burdened by the immense differences in the previous qualifications of the attendees, since there are no placement tests given prior to the beginning of the courses. The organisation of the courses is cumbered by a lack of regularity in the schedule of courses, which results in underemployment of classrooms and lecturers.

SES employees who work with the unemployed have concluded that people who have been unsuccessfully looking for work for a long time lose interest and motivation. To help them regain confidence in their skills and future, SES created Job Seekers Clubs which provide psychological and legal assistance to people who have been looking for a job for a long time. The

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activities organised by the Job Seekers Clubs have been very popular among the unemployed (they were attended by 3,500 unemployed people in the first half of 1998). According to the data of the survey (Job Seeker Training, 1999), those attending a job-seekers club are generally satisfied with the events organised by the club. Activities organised by the Job Seekers Club are free of charge. Many unemployed people cannot attend events organised by the Job Seekers Clubs because of the cost of transportation from their home to the place where the event is being held. Sadly, men seldom attend those events. This is also an obstacle to finding a job.

The main organisation responsible for vocational orientation and guidance is the Professional Career Counselling Centre, which works under the authority of the Ministry of Welfare's Labour Department. The Centre assists unemployed in selecting the most suitable type of work in the case of re-qualification, as well as in mastering job searching methods and skills of presenting oneself to the employer. 2407 unemployed persons were consulted in 1997 (Continuing Vocational Training in Latvia, 1999). Counselling in the Centre is available also for students of professional and higher education establishments, employed population and job seekers.

The Ministry of Welfare has developed several projects to address the issue of unemployment in the Eastern region. In 1998 individual training programmes on incentives to start-up business activity were carried out. New types of training for young unemployed were introduced, including the learning practice of young people with vocational education with employers, training of young people without vocational training by learning from craftsmen registered in the Chamber of Crafts.

During 1999 Latvia is going to start the preparation of a National Employment Plan. This plan will endeavour to combine preventive and employability measures with measures to

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promote re-employment of the long-term unemployed, i.e. reach a better balance between prevention and reintegration.

5. Promoting Employability

The experience of many countries shows that the professional education system plays a very important role in promoting employability. This system can prepare young people to be ready for technological and economic changes. The professional education system must give young people the skills necessary for the labour market. The narrow specialisation characteristic of professional education programmes becomes an obstacle for graduates who enter the labour market, because they have difficulty changing their specialisation according to market demands. The main weakness of the current system is that it gives no guarantee of a quality education. There are many professional schools with small numbers of students, obsolete equipment, and outdated teaching methods. It is difficult to attract young, qualified teachers to these schools, and it is a waste of resources to keep these institutions going.

In the period from 1991 to 1997 the number of students who got an education from vocational or specialised schools decreased significantly. 9,700 students graduated from institutions of secondary specialised education in 1991. By 1998 the number was down to 4,000. The number of students graduating from vocational schools during this period decreased from 18,000 to 7,700.

One indicator of the quality of professional education is the employment rate of graduates. Of all the students of vocational schools and institutions of secondary specialised education who graduated between 1993 and 1997, 36% are currently unemployed, 34% are employed in a different occupation and only 30% are actually working in the profession for which they trained. Those who are employed in their chosen profession are mainly graduates of transport and communications programmes

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(55% of all transport and communications graduates), while graduates of programmes preparing salespeople are the most likely to be unemployed (62%). The fact that a large proportion of graduates are not employed in their chosen profession or are unemployed points to failings in the professional education programmes. They should diversify by providing broader programmes and training in a wider range of skills useful in the labour market. This would increase the employability of their graduates.

Some of the main problems for professional education schools are their inability to guarantee a high quality practical training for students is the lack of equipment on which to train them, as well as the shortage of qualified instructors. Therefore schools try to establish a dialogue with employers who would be willing and able to provide students with practical training in potential places of employment. Some employers are ready to organise training at their companies. This is already taking place in many professions, for example, with waiters, cooks, construction workers, and automobile mechanics. At the moment, businesspeople who are willing to support professional training receive nothing in return. In order to promote the employability of young people, legislation should be introduced providing employers with tax breaks for supporting professional education.

Higher education plays an important role in the development of employability. State investment in the development of higher education must be evaluated critically. Funding per student in Latvia is on average six to seven times less than in OECD countries. In 1997, the funding for higher education from the state budget was only 22.6 million lats or 0.74% of GDP. This proportion is clearly insufficient to give students a modern education and attract young specialists to the teaching profession. The contribution of private capital to the funding of higher education in Latvia is small.

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In 1997, there were 264 university students per 10,000 inhabitants in Latvia. Young people’s interest in a university education has grown considerably over the past years. The number of students grew from 37,500 in 1993/94 to 64,700 in the 1997/98 school year. The majors which students choose have also changed significantly. Increasingly students want to study social sciences and humanities - economics, business management, law, psychology, international relations, and foreign languages. They also show considerable interest in sociology, political science, and tourism management. On the other hand, many formerly popular programmes in the natural sciences and engineering are attracting fewer and fewer applicants. The government initiated reform of higher education and science has not managed to solve several very serious problems in the system of higher education. The essence of these problems is the inadequate and uneven quality of education and the sector’s inability to react to the pressures for growth created by young people’s desire to study. As a result, more and more new institutes of higher education are being founded and the old universities are expanding without effective internal reform. The market is coming into higher education more rapidly than higher education can raise its standards. Many schools and universities are attempting to expand programmes that charge fees. In the 1996/ 97 academic year, 44% of students were paying for their education themselves. However, tuition fees do not guarantee quality and the product many students receive for a fee is just as bad as what the students sitting next to them get for government money.

Every year many students are expelled or drop out of school before completing their studies. Between September 1996 and September 1997 this happened to 13.3% of vocational school students and 11.7% of students from institutions of secondary specialised education. This happens most often in the first year

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of school. In vocational schools, 54% of those who were expelled or dropped out were first year students, while in institutions of secondary specialised education the figure was 51%. The fact that more than 50% of these students are in their first year indicates that many of them made a mistake from the very start in choosing a profession.

The development of the labour market is negatively affected by the fact that many young people leave school without having gained a full professional education or a diploma. As a result, their employability and career opportunities are limited. Statistics for 1997 show that more than one third of young people (counting those who dropped out or were expelled from school) are not obtaining any sort of professional education. Young people who have not obtained an education find it difficult to enter the labour market, as they lack the necessary knowledge and skills. An analysis of the unemployment rolls also shows that the majority of the unemployed has only a secondary school education without any professional qualifications.

6. Enhancing Employability

The present educational level of Latvia’s population (30% of the population has a primary education or less, while 24% has a general high school education) does not correspond to the level of skills that are necessary in a market economy. Latvia’s geopolitical situation and its limited supply of raw materials and energy mean that the education and skills of its population will be the decisive factors in determining the country’s competitiveness. Therefore, the population must be provided with lifelong educational opportunities and the chance to either improve their skills or gain new ones over the course of their working life.

An increasing number of employers support this position because their business strategy depends on the skills of their employees. In a survey conducted by the Employers’ Confederation

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and the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, employers said they need employees with both a solid theoretical background and practical skills. Employers expect their employees to be able to carry out their responsibilities with precision, to know how to use the equipment and technology necessary for their jobs, and to be able to make independent decisions within their area of responsibility. A large number of employers felt that, apart from good technical skills, employees must also have good communication skills. Employers also expect new employees to be computer literate. The demand for employees who know foreign languages is increasing. The first and most important foreign language mentioned is English, with Russian mentioned as the second most necessary language (Vocational Education in Latvia, 1999).

Another survey of businesspeople confirms these findings and also points out at the support employers need. What employers want most is assistance in educating their employees about taxation, legislation, accounting, marketing, and financial management. Less often employers mention the need for help in teaching their employees computer skills, new technologies, business planning, and import/export issues.

Employers’ wishes correspond to weak points in the educational system - a lack of qualified foreign language teachers, insufficient numbers of computers in schools, lack of access to Internet, and a lack of information technology instructors. Employer involvement in professional education is especially noticeable when contrasted with the weak involvement from the other side – from employees, even when they are involved in trade unions or professional organisations.

In 1997 funding for adult education surpassed 6 million lats. Participant fees and contributions from businesses made up 59% of this sum, 34% came from the state budget, and 3% from local governments. Approximately 120,100 people or almost 10% of

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the economically active population completed adult education courses. More than half of those people participated in programmes that improve employability. The most commonly sought after programmes were for raising professional qualifications. These included training and retraining for the unemployed and were attended by 22% of adult education students (Continuing Vocational Training in Latvia, 1999).

Nonetheless, as in other parts of the educational system, the supply of adult education programmes still does not match the demands of the dynamically developing labour market or the educational needs of the population. Adult education is not available to more vulnerable groups of the population and to groups at social risk, as these people are not capable of paying for it. The adult education courses on offer in rural regions do not correspond to what residents want. Without sufficient participation from local governments it will be difficult to find competent organisers and instructors for adult education courses or to provide adult education centres with the necessary equipment and technology.


1 In this paper we will further develop the ideas that were introduced in the Latvian Human Development Report, 1998. The authors would like to thank to J.Broks and B.Ramina for their contribution to this article. We are especially grateful to the Ministry of Welfare for providing us with research grant.

2 Job seekers are people 15 years or older who during the week when the survey takes place are not employed anywhere and are not on a leave of absence, have actively sought work during the previous four weeks, and who are prepared to start work immediately (within the following two weeks) if they find a job.

3 Unemployed status is granted to those individuals who: are citizens of the Republic of Latvia or those with permanent resident status; are of legal working age; are capable of working; for reasons beyond

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their control are not receiving wages or other income in excess of the minimum wage; are not engaged in business; are seeking work; are registered with the State Employment Service; check in at the State Employment Service at least once a month.


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CONTINUING VOCATIONAL TRAINING IN LATVIA (1999) Latvian National Observatory Report upon request of the European Training Foundation. Riga: Academic Information centre - Latvian National Observatory.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF LATVIA (1998) Riga: Ministry of Economy Republic of Latvia. December.

EGLITE, P. (1998) Time Use on Household Tasks in Latvia. Paper presented at the Conference „Consumption and Household Economy in the Baltic States: Micro-level Approach." Riga, 17-19 September.

JOB SEEKER TRAINING Courses Attendees (1999) Survey project directed by A.Tabuns. Riga: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia.

LABOUR IN LATVIA (1998) Labour Force Survey Data, Statistical Bulletin. Riga: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia.

SME SURVEY (1998) Project directed by T.Tisenkopfs. Riga: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia.

STATISTICAL YEARBOOK OF LATVIA 1998 (1998) Riga: Central Statistical Bureau.

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© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Februar 2000

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