Seppänen: let’s attract young smart Europeans to Estonia

22.10.2012, 12:00

Estonia must make itself attractive as a workplace to young Europeans, believes Sami Seppänen, chairman of Elisa Eesti.

Seppänen wrote in Äripäev last week: “Opposite to what it was before, young people today choose a place of residence first and only then start looking for a suitable job.

In my business, telecommunications, some jobs take a really long time to fill. It could be between 6 and 12 months to find, for instance, a suitable software programmer, de-veloper or project manager.

The Estonian state must take a hard look at the labour shortage in the IT industry. We have both unemployment and lack of workforce so there must be a possibility to reduce the gap in employment by de-signing new study programs or by re-training of employees.

Every country is interested to increase employment. In terms of study programs, the state can cooperate with the private sector a lot better.

Speaking of labour, I would like to speak about young people – and not only from Estonia, but from Europe.

Do we know whether young jobseekers from Europe actually consider Estonia? Is the Estonian living environment attractive enough for young people?  Has the state done enough to increase the attractiveness of Estonia for young Europeans?

Why am I asking this? I am convinced that while in the past young people first chose a suitable job and then a place to live, it is now vice versa.

Some countries have already caught on this. For instance, the videoclip on YouTube promoting the City of Stockholm as a living environment has been watched more than three million times worldwide. The clip’s message is clear: “Stockholm is a great place to live!”

Why are young people from Madrid or St. Petersburg choosing London and not Tallinn as a place to live and work? The Estonian state should start analyse how competitive is Tallinn and other larger towns in Estonia and who are competing with us for young employees.

We could then find out how to differentiate and what we need to do to successfully compete with large European towns as an equal. It’s already clear that young people like to move, but the question is where they would like to go and where it’s interesting for them.

Why are young people from Madrid or St. Petersburg choosing London and not Tallinn as a place to live and work in?

Estonia is one of Europe’s smallest labour markets and is therefore extremely dynamic in employment trends. While in 2007-2008 Estonia was characterised by severe shortage of workforce, the situation had changed dramatically by 2009 when unemployment reached 15%.

In order for Estonia to manage its dynamic labour market it’s important that the labour market is as open as possible. If we remain closed, workforce deficit will soon be restricting the economic growth again, like five years ago.

Companies in Estonia are growing very quickly and, considering the market situation, must constantly adjust their operating modes.

This is why companies need employees who are flexible, ready to adjust, and willing to adapt.

I think that there are many such people among those who during their lifetime want to live in more cultures or societies than one.

If we look at the growing unemployment level among young people in Europe, it is clear that there is plenty of people who we can attract to work and live in Estonia.

In short, we are talking about three things: product, process and communication.
Although we may be lacking in communication, in the last two to three years Estonia has done relatively well in global news so the product is good.
Foreign investors and entrepreneurs like how easy and simple it is to start a business in Estonia and say it’s a world record.

But why is the process of applying for and receiving work and residence permits so complicated and time-consuming in Estonia?

What do we need to do is to make sure that we set a world record also in terms of issuing work and residence permits?

Then also the final element – the process - would be in place and put to where it is most needed.