Expert: In Bulgaria, there is a Labor Market Reserve of at Least 500,000 Workers
Bulgaria has a labor market reserve of at least 500,000 workers while employers insist on the import of third-country workers, the director of the Balkan Institute for Labor and Social Policy and former Social Minister Ivan Neykov commented on BTA.
He pointed out that among these 500,000 workers are people with disabilities of working age, as well as those who are said to be neither studying nor working, but according to the experts of the Balkan Institute of Labor and Social Policy they work very hard but in the gray economy. The reserve also includes about 200,000 young pensioners who, after a few years after retirement, have absolutely retained working capacity, said Neykov.
The expert believes that the demand of the business to import workers from third countries is in the wrong direction, because the introduction of large groups of people, although with the noble idea of filling the labor market deficit, has minuses. Neykov believes that this can create social and cultural problems as well as issues for these people - a need to settle housing, healthcare targeted at them.
Many Bulgarian workers believe that the import of workers from third countries is also used as a pressure to keep wages in the country, Ivan Neykov commented. In his words, employers do not realize that this is a street without an exit, as it will lead to a lot of extra costs for them. "Because large groups of people are coming in, not ten maids, to be accommodated in the hotel where they work," argues the expert.
In 2019 there are mandatory changes in labor law - micro-companies can not respect the current one
According to the director of the Balkan Institute of Labor and Social Policy in 2019 it is obligatory to make changes in the labor legislation. The labor law, written for the last nearly 40 years, is for large companies, it is necessary to analyze which of the existing legislation can be respected by the micro-companies and what not, said Neykov.
In Bulgaria, according to NRA data, there are fewer than 300,000 working companies and, according to the National Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, 93% of all these companies are micro-enterprises with fewer than nine workers. If we want this backbone of the Bulgarian economy, micro-enterprises, to operate according to the law, we need to have a law that they can obey not just in paper but in real life, said Neykov.
Knowledge gained in an informal way must be recognized
Ivan Neikov said that the problem of recognizing knowledge acquired in an informal way should also be solved. Many of the people who are formally without qualifications have skills, said Neykov and added that it is necessary to make this knowledge formalized with an accessible and quick mechanism.
The illusion is that we will take people back to the white market by not recognizing their knowledge and skills, and then returning them back to school for four years, the expert added.
Ivan Neykov believes that there are no indicators of an upcoming crisis
Real indicators of a forthcoming crisis in the Bulgarian economy are not yet in place, Neikov said. He added there was no reason to believe there was anything we did not do, and a crisis would surprise us.
"Unlike the 2008-2009 period, when the whole world was shaking with the crisis, and in Bulgaria we said that the crisis reached Kalotina and continued after Kapitan Andreevo, that here is an oasis, we are now much more sober and understand that we are a boat in the sea that swings all, "said Neykov.
The expert believes that the forecast for three percent inflation next year will reduce the pink color in government estimates for 2019 to be a year in which people will have a higher purchasing power. Accumulated inflation from this year and next will reduce to small parameters if it leads to an increase in purchasing power rather than freezing, Neykov said.
The social sphere is one of the few areas where a reform was made in 2018.
According to the former Minister of Labor and Social Policy, the social sphere is one of the few areas in the governance of the reformed state in 2018. He noted that for the first time in the last ten years there was a real new idea in the social sphere and that was the creation of the Social and Solidarity Economy Companies Act. Bulgaria is thus one of the few countries with clear legislation in this area, Neykov said, adding that the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy is entirely responsible for this. The expert believes that the challenge is to draft regulations, but in his words the ministry has enough expertise to cope with.
The new legislation will be a serious support for the existing enterprises as well as for the new enterprises in this sphere, and in the coming years their contribution to the national economy will increase continuously, said Ivan Neykov. In his words, the social and solidarity economy makes it possible to react quickly to new needs that are emerging, to support many vulnerable groups in society in the area of employment and entrepreneurship.
Society now has new attitude and sensitivity to people with disabilities
Regarding the reform of disability policies, Neikov said it should be noted that the reform was under pressure, which had both positive and negative sides. If that was not the pressure, I'm sure the subject would be over again, some leva would be given by the budget to people with disabilities and that is, Neykov said. Pressure was crucial to creating the new legal framework, the new rules, even the new attitude towards people with disabilities, said Neykov. According to him, the negative work pressure is that when it comes to doing so, the risk of making a mistake is great.
The expert believes that the difficult task of creating the sub-legislation, the administrative capacity of the institutions that will implement the new policy, the training of the people who will make the individual assessment and the individual plans will be forthcoming. "150 million leva further away do not solve everything, there is still a lot of work, but the important thing is that the sensitivity of the society has already changed," said Neykov. He is of the opinion that in the second half or by the end of 2019 there will already be a system under the new model of care for people with disabilities.
"2018 was better than 2017 in the social sphere in terms of legislation, in 2019 we will spend more money on the social sphere but the question is whether there will be a better social policy for that money, Neykov said.
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