There are 150 000 – 200 000 Estonians living abroad which makes it about 15% of all Estonians. Considerable share of them are highly qualified. As Estonia suffers from shortage of qualified labour and local labour market is not able to cope with changes fast enough, it is wise to analyse the potential of foreign Estonians in alleviating the situation.
The Compatriot Program is located under the language policy field of Estonian Ministry of Education and Research and therefore focuses mainly on activities related to language and culture and overshadows economic factors and matters related to workforce. The Compartriot Program supports returning of foreign Estonians, but it does not propagate it. Program could introduce Estonia as a good place to work and study through its scholarships and youth camps. Currently the program is not aiming to relieve the labour supply problem.
In 2010-2012 the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry implemented “Talents Home” project. Its effectiveness was modest for several reasons, but it gave necessary information to get contacts and communicate with youth that are abroad. The potential contribution of Estonians living abroad to Estonian development should be thoroughly discussed.
Overview of the composition and qualifications of Estonians abroad is needed in order to identify whether they are suitable as a talent policy target group. “Talents Home” web environment should be developed further and used to market Estonia as an attractive country for employment.