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Bulgaria Facing Looming Labor Shortage of Half a Million Employees Very Soon!
In a comprehensive analysis conducted by Institute for Market Economics (IME) Senior Economist Adrian Nikolov, Bulgaria's labor market is forecasted to face a severe shortage of skilled workers, potentially reaching half a million individuals within the next three to five years. Nikolov's findings, published on the IME website on February 9, highlight significant challenges that lie ahead for the country's economic sectors and regional labor markets.
According to Nikolov, employers in Sofia anticipate more pronounced staff shortages compared to other regions of Bulgaria, particularly in sectors such as trade, tourism, economy, and education. The analysis projects a deficit of approximately 243,000 professionals with higher education and 245,000 individuals with secondary education, indicating a critical shortfall in the country's workforce.
Trade, tourism, and transport sectors are expected to face the most acute shortages, with an estimated deficit of 194,000 employees. This deficit is attributed to various factors, including the growing demand in the tourism industry, expansion of modern trade, and increasing logistics requirements. Additionally, industries such as construction and manufacturing are projected to experience shortages of 46,000 and 68,000 workers, respectively.
Specialists with secondary education will be in high demand in sectors like wholesale and retail trade, hospitality, and construction, while professionals with higher education, such as economists and educators, will also face significant shortages. The analysis underscores the urgent need for policymakers to address the looming labor deficit through targeted interventions in education and workforce development.
While current labor demand is relatively evenly distributed across Bulgaria's regional markets, the forecast indicates a shift towards greater concentration in urban centers like Sofia, Varna, Plovdiv, and Burgas. Sofia, in particular, is expected to seek an additional 213,000 employees, primarily with higher education qualifications.
Nikolov emphasizes the importance of long-term labor forecasts in guiding policy decisions, urging authorities to prioritize measures aimed at mitigating the expected labor shortages. With demographic trends indicating a decline in the working-age population and limited progress in integrating economically inactive individuals into the workforce, Bulgaria faces significant challenges in addressing its labor market needs.
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