In recent years, immigration to Estonia has increased and several services supporting adaptation of immigrants have been implemented by the state. The purpose of this study was to find out 1) the contentment of Estonian employers with the process of foreign recruitment and 2) the contentment of Estonian foreign workers with their recruitment and relocation experience to Estonia.

To reach these objectives, two separate studies – the study of employers and the study of foreign workers – were carried out in spring 2019. The results of the study help to fill the existing gaps in the process of foreign recruitment, enable to make recommendations for improving the adaptation and recruitment processes that will more effectively support the adaptation of foreign workers and their families in Estonia.


The employers’ study showed:

  • According to the study, 15% of employers with at least 5 employees in the sectors of ICT, manufacturing, energetics, finance, creative industry and construction have recruited foreign workers within last 5 years and 5% plan to recruit foreign workers within next 12 months. Half of the employers who already have recruited plan to recruit again.
  • Employers recruit or plan to recruit foreign workers mostly from the third countries (86% of employers), about one third has recruited or plans to recruit from the European Union and EFTA countries. Employers have the highest necessity for skilled workers – 51% of companies with foreign recruitment experience have hired skilled workers and 62% with foreign recruitment plans plan to hire skilled workers from abroad. 40% of employers have recruited and 30% plans to recruit (top) specialists, especially IT specialists.
  • Employers are the most content with the services of Estonian Police and Border Guard Service Board, including with short-term registration procedure of foreign workers, and the least content with opening a bank account for the foreign worker. Employers are somewhat less content with the availability of state services than with services of recruitment procedure.
  • Employers’ general awareness of the Work in Estonia programme that supports foreign recruitment is high in the target group of ICT sector employers – 89% of ICT sector employers have heard about the programme. However, awareness among the all surveyed employers is considerably lower. Only 22% of employers with at least 5 employees in the sectors of ICT, manufacturing, energetics, finance, creative industry and construction have heard about the activities of Work in Estonia programme.

The foreign workers’ study showed:

  • The majority of foreign workers are skilled workers and highly qualified specialists from the third countries. In addition, there is a clearly visible group of foreign workers among respondents, who are mainly from Ukraine and Russia, who speak Russian language, who have mainly secondary or vocational education.
  • As most of the respondents also considered other destination countries besides Estonia. The countries that have been considered besides Estonia are more often Western European and Nordic countries (e.g. Germany, the Netherlands, UK, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Norway).
  • The foreign workers, especially Russian-speaking workers, are, in general, rather content with recruitment and relocation experience in Estonia. However, some room of improvement is seen in quality and user-friendliness of foreign language websites of state institutions, in attitudes and ability to speak English among officials of institutions issuing necessary documents, long waiting queues of Police and Border Guard Board and the location of its service points.
  • 39% of the respondents have participated in the Welcoming Programme, which is a state programme for supporting relocation and adaptation in Estonia. Most of the respondents who have participated in the Welcoming Programme are highly satisfied with it.
  • Majority (75%) of respondents would recommend living and working in Estonia to other foreigners.