The shortage of workers in Serbia’s labour market, created by the departure of skilled workers, is being covered by foreigners, mostly from Asian countries.
Some 23,000 work permits were issued last year alone, and since the Law on Employment of Foreigners came into force in Serbia in late 2014, the import of workers from abroad has increased year on year.
In 2021 alone, the National Employment Service (NSZ) issued some 23,000 work permits, almost double the number from the previous year, when, according to official data, there were 12,300 foreign workers in Serbia. At least another 30 percent, however, would have to be added to the official numbers because of undocumented workers, says to the Trade Union of Construction Workers of Serbia.
The union president, Sasa Torlakovic, says that there is a large number of undocumented workers, so it is impossible to truly determine how many foreigners are employed in Serbia.
According to him, most foreigners work in construction, but as of recently, they are also employed in the catering and service sectors.
“Construction takes the lead because its share in the national GDP stands at 20%. These foreigners are not skilled workers and are willing to work for 300 euros a month. I have no doubt that, with time, engineers and skilled workers will start coming here too because our engineers and skilled workers have left for Europe,” said Torlakovic.
According to him, the reasons for importing workers from abroad are the low wages: “Our people simply do not want to do such high-risk work as construction, 12 hours a day, for an average salary of 54,000 dinars. Instead, workers from China, India, Vietnam and other Asian countries work for 300 euros a month,” Torlakovic added.
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