At the talent policy seminar held in the Riigikogu today, Praxis analyst Laura Kirss gave an overview of the current status and development requirements of Estonia’s talent policy. The question that should become important for the state is what kind of foreign labour we would like to see in Estonia and how we should introduce our state as an attractive country for employment.

The problems of attracting foreign labour and keeping it here have been recognised in Estonia both at the level of state and by employers, but priorities have not yet been determined and there is no clear agreement about how strategic choices should be made in the context of talent policy.

Laura Kirss finds that several important steps have been taken to make it easier for companies to hire highly qualified labour from third countries. For example, the Aliens Act has been amended, a scientific staff grant has been introduced for companies and the options for acquiring an international education have broadened.

“However, all of these activities are aimed at solving existing problems, i.e. the nature of these actions is reactive,” explained the analyst and added that such actions are not sufficient to make Estonia more attractive as a country of employment for workers of other countries. The analyst finds that bringing additional labour to Estonia requires a consensus about who we’re looking for and where we are looking for them as well as what value we could offer to people who do decide to come here.

The conclusion made in the Praxis study is that Estonia’s small size and budget require us to give serious consideration to the use of our resources in the coming years. “Enterprise Estonia are already preparing the concept and they’ve got other initiatives in the pipeline,” explains Kirss. She also emphasises the importance of carrying out such activities together and supporting others. “Central management and a good coordination system are certainly necessary, as studies have shown that both have been lacking so far,” admitted the analyst.

Current talent policy management was discussed at the seminar Praxis and the Economic Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu. Foreign talent policy expert Marcus Andersson from Sweden introduced different options for talent policy management. Andersson pointed out that European countries have usually had their talent policy managed by the public sector, whereby changes in the area are initiated by the state or its entities.

Kats Kivistik from the Institute of Baltic Studies introduced the results of the recent survey of adaptation by new migrants and a possible approach to Estonia’s immigration policy. The survey revealed that the quality of information exchange and cooperation must be improved both at the local as well as the national level. It’s also necessary to raise the awareness and readiness of employers to recruit the foreigners who’ve acquired higher education in Estonia, who’ve already adapted to life over here and who would bring added value to the labour market.

The seminar was a part of the One Baltic Sea Region Project supported by the Baltic Sea Region Programme, which focusses on increasing attractiveness of the countries in the Baltic Sea Region. One of its sub-actions is to increase the region’s economic competitiveness by making it attractive for highly qualified labour.