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NEWS - 2. March 2018 18:05

SEB survey: number of employees of SMEs remains stable, slight increase in the interest in hiring foreigners

Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are planning to keep their number of employees stable this year, while there has been a slight increase in the interest in hiring foreigners, shows the annual Baltic Business Outlook.

Regardless of the economic growth and the generally expected rising turnovers, most of the Baltic SMEs do not expect their number of employees to change this year – this position is held by 76% of the respondents in Estonia, 75% in Latvia and 65% in Lithuania. Apparently Lithuanian SMEs are going to be the most active in seeking new employees, of whom a quarter are planning to. Their position is shared by every fifth enterprise in Estonia and 16% in Latvia. 10% of the Lithuanian and 9% of the Latvian SMEs are planning to reduce their number of employees, with the figure being 5% in Estonia.

“Due to the economic growth and the shortage of labour in certain fields, many enterprises are struggling to fill their existing positions. Hiring new employees comes into the picture when investments are made into expanding the production or services. In conclusion, it can be seen that employment remains high, but in particular the prognoses of the retail trade companies of Southern Estonia are more pessimistic than the Estonian average,” says Ainar Leppänen, SEB Board Member and Head of Retail Banking.

As 89% of the participants in the survey were SMEs with less than 10 employees, then enterprises’ interest in hiring can be regarded to be relatively high.

Foreign labour force is awaited in Ida-Viru county

In Estonia, the number of enterprises interested in hiring foreign labour force has grown by five percentage points, to 13%. This makes Estonian SMEs the most open towards foreign employees, yet 80% of the respondents would not consider hiring foreigners neither currently nor in the future. The figure is higher in Lithuania (83%) and Latvia (89%). There are great discrepancies between the Estonian counties: In Ida-Viru county, 19% of SMEs are interested in foreign labour force, while in Põlva County 92% of entrepreneurs are not planning to hire foreigners.

Business objectives and the situation on the labour market require more investments to be made into employees. Lithuanian SMEs are, with 28%, the most active in their plans to invest into their employees, while the figures for Estonia and Latvia remain below 20%. Instead, Estonian SMEs (37%) are planning significantly more investments into updating their products and services and the activity level is similar in Lithuania in this respect. Lithuanian SMEs (12%) are thinking the most about changing their business model, followed by Estonia (10%) and Latvia (7%).

For the sixth consecutive year, SEB Grupp organised a survey in the Baltic countries, mapping the expectations of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the 2018 financial year. The new edition of Baltic Business Outlook presents a summary of the project and profiles the views of the 4,200 Baltic SMEs that completed the survey.

Read the survey

For more information:

Evelin Allas
Communications Manager
Marketing and Communications Division
Phone +372 665 5649
Mobile: +372 511 1718
Address Tornimäe 2, 15010 Tallinn

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