Recruiting in Latvia? It may differ from what you thought…
Availability of the appropriate, qualified professionals has always been a critical factor when evaluating the location for future business development. We have studied and observed the Latvian labour market for more than 15 years, as well as providing regular reports for foreign investors. It is encouraged to have insight into the Latvian market and its specifics, which you should be aware of prior to the recruitment processes.
The availability of qualified labour force in Latvia
Although there are almost 2 million people in Latvia, less than half of them, or 965.8 thousand people, are an economically active part of the population between the ages of 15 – 64 (Central Statistical Bureau Latvia, 2014). If you plan to open a business in the Riga region, you can count on a pool of around 325 thousand candidates, with at least 20% being employed in the State Sector (public administration, education, medical and social care).
So, what is the message of these numbers? They are used to characterise the narrow candidate pool in Latvia. There are certainly highly qualified, smart professionals and young talent, though it requires a lot of effort, patience and market knowledge to attract the right candidates to your team. Skilled labour at a reasonable cost is one of the general features used to characterize the Latvian labour market. Compared to other European countries, the average salary in Latvia is one of the lowest. In 2015 the average gross monthly wage in the country was 818 euros (Souce: Eurostat).
The real situation demonstrates the large differences among regions and industries, as well as the dependence on the professional qualifications of employees. And although in general the average wage rates are low, skilled professionals in Latvia are well rewarded.
The information gathered in the recruitment and interview process shows that there is no such thing as an average salary level for a specific profession in Latvia. Too many factors influence the salary; therefore, the most trustworthy source of information for the establishment of a remuneration system for your company is a targeted salary survey in a particular area or the most up-to-date information available to your business/recruitment consultant. NB! Please do not use statistical data or general salary research reports as the basis for the remuneration system for your organization in Latvia.
Well educated and qualified employees are of interest for newly developed businesses, and there are certainly such in Latvia. Education is a historically developed traditional value in Latvia. Enrollment rates in universities are among the highest in the world and around 20 thousand young people graduate every year (the number of graduates in 2015 was 17,021). However, we should keep in mind that we are numerically a very small nation, and certain industry-specific narrow profiles or a combination of required competencies can be represented by only a few people around the country. This is the biggest difference compared to large economies, where a considerable choice of candidates is available for specific and/or niche positions. So if you need to recruit a professional of narrow specialization there are two possibilities: either to carry out market research to ascertain the availability of professionals and their interest in joining your team, or to attract talented specialists and to provide training of the necessary professional skills to them.
Good knowledge of foreign languages is one of our employee benefits
According to the Eurobarometer research (2013) 95% adults (25 – 64) in Latvia speak at least one foreign language, 46% speak two languages, and 13% speak three or more. The most popular languages are Russian, English and German. However, much less is the number of people with fluent or at least very good foreign language skills, and often they do not exceed level B. We encourage using this advantage as a good starting point for the development of your team. Latvians are eager to learn and professional development and training possibilities are among their most important motivators.
There are hard-working employees who perceive work as value… Indeed, as Eurobarometer research demonstrates, 56% of Latvian inhabitants have indicated work as one of the most important values for their happiness. In comparison, the average number in Europe collectively is only 40% (see the illustration below). On the other hand, only a meaningful job has value where one can assess one’s own contribution to the common objective and get personal and professional satisfaction. In order to attract motivated candidates it is important to define:
- Targets of a company and those of a specific position as well as key performance indicators
- Company values and the way they are reflected in performance standards and employee behaviour
- Professional development (vertical and horizontal) possibilities within the organisation.
It does not always follow that widely used recruitment methods are as efficient in Latvia. Only targeted recruitment methods are efficient in the Latvian labour market, and management trainee and similar programs widely used by global corporations do not always provide the necessary result in our market. Employees in Latvia appreciate companies that develop employee brand not only globally, but are able to adapt values on a local level.
Efficient recruitment methods in the Latvian labour market include:
- Defined target audience (even several audiences) with specific appropriate activities to address and attract necessary professionals
- Recruitment process, based on shared values and targets (value proposition)
- Fast and efficient candidate assessment process – adequate for a specific position
- Demonstrated interest in a candidate personality and ability to promote the position both from HR and the Team Manager/Company Manager
- Clearly defined career/professional development prospects within the organisation
- Active communication with candidates throughout the process as they often have several proposals and time is crucial to making a decision
- Openness to new opportunities both in terms of the target audience and attraction methods as well as employment forms.
For additional information, please contact our recruitment consultants via firstname.lastname@example.org