Manpower Bulgaria Director Nadia Vassileva: Bulgarian Labor Market Is in Danger
Interview with the Managing Director of Manpower Bulgaria, Nadia Vassileva.
Manpower Inc is a leading global company in the employment services industry with a network of 4 500 offices in 80 countries. It was set up in 1948 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. In 2007, its total revenue reached USD 21 B.
Its Bulgarian branch, Manpower Bulgaria, became operational end of 2006. Manpower Bulgaria has five offices - two in Sofia, and one in each Plovdiv, Varna, and Burgas, and has served over 60 clients to date.
How successful have been Manpower Bulgaria operations up to date? How many Bulgarian employees have been hired with your help?
In my opinion, and as per our clients and candidates whom we turn to for feedback using various surveys, Manpower Bulgaria has been extremely successful. Our company has been on the local market for two years now and can be ranked in the top three of the companies that work in the human resources sector in the country.
There are thousands of candidates who found a job with our help - that is why they recommend us to their friends, relatives and even employers.
What is the percentage of Bulgarian and foreign companies who turn to your services? Do Bulgarian companies use your services?
The Bulgarian companies that turn to our services are not as that many; however, their number has been growing which has to do with the fact that they have become more European and open-minded.
In addition, there are a lot of Bulgarian companies which are part of the grР°y economy, and our philosophy does not allow us to help its existence. We work mainly with foreign companies who know us and the quality we offer from abroad.
Which sectors do you work in? Which sectors are actively looking for employees and which are not?
Given the relatively small size of the market, we have not specialized in any specific industry. However, we've been successful mostly in the administration sector, finance and banking, manufacturing, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), pharmaceuticals, services, and engineering. The demand for employees is connected with the market conditions.
That is why the sectors that felt the direct impact of the financial crisis such as telecoms, construction and real estate, logistics, do not look for new talent.
On the other hand, there are sectors that will keep searching for new hirings, and these include FMCG, outsourced services centers, accountancy, IT (mainly IT developers), and engineering.
How does the financial crisis affect the dynamics of the Bulgarian labor market? What are your expectations?
Similarly to all companies, the financial crisis has a negative impact on us, too. We depend on the development of our clients' businesses, so we cannot avoid their moments of failure. Presently, there is a general hiring freeze in most of the large companies. We witnessed massive lay-offs and corporate restructuring which lead to the dismissal of key employees.
We do hope, though, that by the end of the year the market will stabilize and hire back the same employees.
How competitive are the Bulgarian employees? Can we compare the Bulgarian labor market with the ones of the developed countries? What does it lack?
I believe that the Bulgarian employees are highly competitive for they are good at multi-task jobs and take up different responsibilities.
The thing that our market lacks is a contemporary and adequate Labor Code as well as a Temporary Placement law which will definitely alleviate the labor market in the country.
Which sectors suffer the most from talent crunch? How can it be overcome? Is the import of foreign laborers a viable alternative?
Based on our observations, the positions that are and will keep being on demand, include experienced sales representatives and managers for the FMCG sector, as well as for different equipment. The IT sector still lacks the needed specialists.
An interesting industry niche is the spa and beauty consultancy businesses where we see an enormous talent crunch for there is no relevant education for such specialists.
We have been observing an interesting tendency which was dictated by the dynamics of the market, namely, candidates who combine two or more skills such as IT and marketing, engineering and sales, finance and administration.
The need for such talent can be overcome, in my opinion, with good planning on behalf of the government and a modernized educational system. Then we won't need to import foreign talent but help the development of the local economy by ourselves.
Have you exported Bulgarian employees or imported foreigner laborers?
We do not export Bulgarian talent because we do not want to weaken the local market given the decreasing and over-aged population. On the other hand, we have helped foreigners to find a job here, mostly in the customer service sector that requires proficiency in foreign languages.
There are five Manpower Bulgaria offices. Which one is the strongest? Are there any regional differences?
Quite naturally, the Sofia-based office is the strongest because the largest companies have set up their headquarters here. The Plovdiv region is very dynamic, too. And yes, there are regional specifics and significant differences regarding the salary levels, the expectations of the candidates, and the mentality of the employers. However, being a socially responsible company, one of our main roles is to educate the market which, we believe, will help its development.
Is the level of the labor force in Bulgaria increasing or decreasing? What measures should be taken for its improvement?
Our market faces a real danger for the country's population has been decreasing and aging dramatically. That is why the government should urgently implement effective measures in order to boost the birth-rate, as well as include the marginalized workforce in the labor force. It should also modernize the Labor Law so that it is more flexible and provide bigger security to all of us.
On the other hand, the business should become more transparent and "come into the daylight", so to say - we do believe that Manpower is a good example of a company not supporting the grР°y economy and being an equal-opportunities employer.
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