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Year of quarantine in labor market. Why Ukrainians are choosing to work in Poland?

Author : Anna Peshkova

Source : 112 Ukraine

Exactly one year has passed since the introduction of coronavirus quarantine restrictions in Ukraine. After a wave of layoffs and business closures, the labor market is gradually recovering
11:48, 15 March 2021

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Exactly one year has passed since the introduction of coronavirus quarantine restrictions in Ukraine. After a wave of layoffs and business closures, the labor market is gradually recovering: the number of vacancies and CVs exceeds pre-pandemic levels. The salary is also growing despite the restrictions in the work of the business.

But our citizens are in no hurry to get a "non-prestigious" job and are increasingly turning to companies for employment abroad.

Quarantine thaw: supply and demand

It is almost impossible to accurately analyze the Ukrainian labor market, including a huge amount of "shadow jobs". You have to rely only on data from various job search sites.

The "freeze" of the market in 2020 did not come as a surprise to anyone. According to Jooble, 36.8% of companies reduced and suspended hiring, and only 16.4% started hiring more employees. However, as of early March 2021, the number of vacancies on the most popular job search sites beat the "pre-coronavirus" times.

For example, if a year ago more than 40 thousand new vacancies per week were posted on the Work.ua site, then a year later the figure increased by at least 6 thousand. And this happened after a significant drawdown in early May - up to 21 thousand vacancies per week ...

If we talk about the total number of vacancies, Tetiana Pashkina, an expert on job placement at Rabota.ua, explained: during the lockdown, offers that had expired, were not updated, as before, but were closed.

An increase in supply may indicate a recovery in the market. But this indicator alone is not enough. Judging by the number of CVs registered on the site weekly, they have doubled in comparison with the pre-quarantine March 2020. The influx of applicants to the market has already exceeded 100 thousand. This may indicate two not very positive trends.

First, let’s talk about the deferred demand for work. During the year, many Ukrainians who lost their jobs spent their savings instead of finding new jobs. But savings are running out, and with the start of 2021, job seekers are crossing the psychological line and making more active attempts to find a job.

Second, the gap between supply and demand remains. If before the introduction of quarantine restrictions, there were almost two CVs registered within a week for one new vacancy, then in April 2020 there were 2.6. Now this figure is 2.5 CVs per vacancy. However, for highly qualified personnel, increased competition is not a problem. Employment experts say the good job is still "hard to find, easy to lose, and impossible to forget."

As for the trend for remote work, it really progressed during the lockdown. On OLX, the number of remoted jobs in March 2020 increased by a third compared to February. But at the end of the year of quarantine restrictions, employers did not show serious interest in this form of work: the overwhelming majority want to see their employees in the offices. Moreover, Ukrainian business is not ready to pay extra for employees who work from home, as a number of international companies do.

At this point, Work.ua has only 6.5% of remote vacancies. The law on "remote work" adopted by the MPs is also unlikely to contribute to the growth of their number in the future. According to the document, the employer has the right to refuse the corresponding proposal if it is impossible to organize the fulfillment of the employee's duties in remote conditions. Given this subjective factor, an employee who fears a pandemic has to rely only on his own value for the company.

There is a new requirement for the applicant. Increasingly, representatives of the service sector began to be asked to undergo tests for the presence of antibodies to coronavirus, in particular for immunoglobulins G. When hiring, businessmen prefer those who have already had Covid-19 and can prove it.

When employed in offices, labor contracts also began to specify the requirements for compulsory PCR testing at the request of the employer. Moreover, Jooble reports that less than a third of companies fully or at least partially compensate for such testing.

Who employer needs in 2021

The pandemic did not affect the top specialists in demand on the labor market. Most vacancies are for sales managers (7.1 thousand on Work.ua). In addition, they began to look for "salesmen" even 2.4 times more often than during a lockdown. Also, the largest number gas showed by vacancies for sellers (4.5 thousand), drivers (2.9 thousand), accountants (2.8 thousand), software developers (2.5 thousand). However, the level of payment does not always correlate with demand.

The general trend in the popularity of professions is only increasing: this is a digital direction and a service sector. The demand for "simple" specialties in comparison with "intellectual" work in 2021 has grown significantly, despite the fact that small and medium-sized businesses have been working with significant quarantine restrictions for almost the entire year.

For example, they began to look for drivers more often than accountants, cleaners - more often than translators. More couriers and nannies are needed in comparison with merchandisers (demand for couriers increased 2.5 times).

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The demand for contact center operators has increased - they are needed more than security guards. Also, due to the pandemic, the demand for doctors is greater than for pharmacists (vacancies are published 2.6 times more than in April 2020). This is most likely due not to the expansion of staff, but, on the contrary, to the massive reduction in the profession.

If we talk about the demand for software developers and specialists involved in promotion on the Internet, then the trend will increase. Already, there are almost 3 times more vacancies on the market for content managers than in quarantine. For SMM specialists, the number of vacancies increased 2.7 times.

We are seeing a real thaw in demand for creatives: copywriters and journalists. If in April 2020 the number of vacancies tended to zero, now there are 9 times more offers for copywriters, and 20 for journalists. Nevertheless, the total number of vacancies is low.

If we talk about the longer term, then even in the Strategy for the Development of Higher Education in Ukraine, it is planned to focus on technical and engineering specialties. Experts call promising areas – these are cybersecurity, the development of "smart" houses, ecoanalytics in construction, "city farming", that is, growing plants in vertical farms in empty premises.

Job search abroad

Changes in the Ukrainian labor market provoke the registration of unemployed status and the search for work abroad. Although there are vacancies, Ukrainians are not satisfied with the salary and those professions that the employer requires. Only every tenth person is ready to change their specialization.

According to the State Statistics Service, at the end of 2020, the unemployment rate in Ukraine reached 459 thousand, which is 36% more than in January 2020. And according to unofficial data, there are at least 1.7 million unemployed in the country. Moreover, the demand of Ukrainians for employment abroad is growing in proportion to unemployment.

"The beginning of 2021, compared to the same period last year, was distinguished by an increase of 35% in applications for the intention to work abroad. This clearly shows the trend, because usually such high rates were in the summer due to seasonal work. As you can see, the desire to work and getting a salary, on which one can not only live, but also set aside a certain amount, becomes decisive for Ukrainians," says Ruslana Brovchuk, general director of the recruiting company.

According to the analytical service OLX Jobs, 63% of unemployed Ukrainians plan to work abroad or are considering such an option.

March - June last year, when the situation with travel abroad was uncertain, were especially difficult for Ukrainian labor migrants. Employers did not plan the activities of enterprises in advance, and, accordingly, there were no applications to search for workers.

However, in the future, countries interested in our workforce began to simplify employment. For example, Poland allowed to cross the border without observation with a negative PCR or antigen test, and also automatically extended the duration of visas and work permits. However, the number of people employed in the Czech Republic, for example, is declining, since the country is in the top in terms of the spread of coronavirus.

If before the pandemic 60% of job seekers were employed in Poland, 30% in the Czech Republic, 10% in other countries, now this ratio is changing. The number of Ukrainians who choose Poland has grown by another 25%. This is due not only to the simplification of employment, but also to the increase in wages. If in 2020 the "minimum wage" in Poland was 2,600 zlotys gross, then since January 1 it has increased by 200 zlotys. This is 13.7 PLN net per hour compared to 11.8 PLN net in 2019.

The pace of migration to Poland quickly recovered throughout 2020.

"After easing tough quarantine restrictions, opening borders and restoring international transport links, the number of persons (Ukrainians - ed.) registered in the Polish pension fund began to grow and reached the level of February in September," writes Oleksandra Slobodyan, an expert on migration issues of the analytical center CEDOS.

However, representatives of the Polish statistical office suggest that during the lockdown, people who were already unemployed at the time of the introduction of quarantine restrictions, were in Poland on the basis of a visa, or worked informally, initially left the country.

In the context of the demand for specialists in European markets, everything is stable. And while some countries are raising wages, production cuts due to the pandemic will inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of hours worked per day. In this regard, there is an increase in applications from persons who are already abroad, but want to change jobs (more than a hundred applications per week). And also the search for a part-time job, paid daily or once a week, is gaining new dimensions. It is difficult to find it, and often Ukrainians resort to such employment illegally.

Judging by the forecasts of the Cabinet of Ministers about the return of the unemployment level to the previous level only after 2.5 years and according to the National Bank forecasts about the resumption of the volume of transfers from the migrant workers, it is too early to talk about a real thaw in the labor market. Most likely, the real revival of the labor market will take place at least in 2022.

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