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Georgia Lacks Professional Staff

Unemployment remains Georgia’s one of the key challenges. However, we have the situation, when a major part of population is unemployed, but the private sector starves of qualified staff anyway. Almost all fields lack for professional workforce. Specialists explain that the changing demand and standards on the market have shaped this reality.

Mismatch between the demand and supply is also reflected in the 2016 report of Health Ministry. According to specialists, a lack of vocational schools has made professional staff deficient, however, even the existing vocational schools cannot satisfy the market demands, standards and requirements.

Imeri clothes manufacturing company cannot expand business because of a lack of qualified staff. The company built a new workshop in Kutaisi, nearby the current clothes factory, in spring 2017. The company management expected the output to double.

Today, Maia Simonidze, head of the company supervisory board, explains that only one workshop continues operation in Imeri, because the company could not employ qualified staff. The company needs about 100 qualified workers in the new plant and the company is ready to train them, however, the plant has failed to attract this workforce.

“Today it is very difficult to find qualified staff. Salaries at our factory range from 400 to 450 GEL. The many does not have resources to pay more. I have no idea why they do not come, maybe  low salaries or  other reasons. Unemployment has long rooted in our society and this factor has limited working capacities. People have lost principle – how can I sit at home without job. For many years they have seen family members and friends unemployed and now they also prefer to stay unemployed. I think this is a psychological moment. Part of our society is accustomed to sleep up to 12 o’clock waiting for money transfers from family members from abroad. This psychological factor creates problems. Therefore, the new plant could not launch working at full capacity because of lack of qualified staff”, Simonidze noted.

Imeri company is located in Kutaisi. Before 2013, the company used to sew clothes for German Lubeck and Italian Moncler. Over the past 2 years the company decided to make accent on the domestic market too and today the company owns three stores (2 ones in Kutaisi and 1 in Tbilisi).

Exports’ ratio in the company orders accounts for 90%. The company receives orders for various clothes of men and women, including: manteau, coat, skirts and so on.

Nika Nikolashvili, founder of Nikoli children clothing startup, says that Nikoli was founded on February 14, 2017. The 100% Georgian plant is located in Tbilisi.

Initially, drawing capital is the most complicated moment, including human resources and material resources, he said. It is very difficult to buy high-quality fabric in the country. In reality, there is no fabric company in Georgia and this factor creates huge problems. The country should carry out changes in this direction and a fabric plant should be organized, he added.

«At this stage, our company employs 4 tailors. We have employed professional staff after huge efforts. Naturally, the country lacks for professional staff and this moment also complicates doing business. The situation should change in this respect and more vocational schools should be launched», Nikolashvili said.

Koki Gakharia, co-owner of KABA company, also talks about a lack of professional staff. The country and, the fashion business especially, face problems with professional staff.

«Besides sewing, many other criteria should be satisfied in the plant. Problems with professional staff starts from schools. Currently, our company does not have this problem and it has hired experienced staff», Gakharia said.

Luca Polare, Georgian ice-cream brand, states that there are many problems in business sector, but all of them are soluble, starting from competitive capacity ending with GEL depreciation over the past period. Employing qualified staff is also a serious problem, the company representatives noted.

The company faces serious problems with employing technical specialists and bakers, they added.

Several months ago Irakli Petriashvili, head of Association of Trade Unions of Georgia, was also talking about unqualified staff. The Authorities are responsible for this situation, he said.

“There are a lot of facts, when in Georgia companies invite foreign workers, because employers cannot find domestic qualified workforce in the country. The Authorities are responsible for this situation, because nothing important has been done to train and prepare professional staff and  popularize vocational education.

Today we have this legislation – if a person decides to abandon the 9th class and go to vocational school, he/she cannot receive higher education. They have to to go back to the 9th class, pass the full course up to 12th class and take exams for a higher school after that. Taking into account the mindset of  Georgian parents, they do not want to kill future perspectives of their children”, Petriashvili noted.

Statistics of employment of foreign citizens also stresses there is a deficiency of qualified staff in the country. According to Service Development Agency of Ministry of Justice, 9 337 foreign citizens received labor permit in 2015, 9 635 – in 2016. A total of 22 362 foreign citizens received labor  permits in Georgia since September 2017.

This is a very high indicator for 2.5 years, Irakli Petriashvili noted.

“I do not know specific enterprises, where big groups of foreign citizens work. I know that citizens of China, India, Turkey are mainly employed,  while Georgian citizens remain unemployed and leave the country to earn their living. Issuance of so many labor permits to foreign citizens will bring catastrophic results”, Petriashvili noted several months ago.