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Serbia’s workforce dynamics: A surge in foreign workers by 70%, eclipsing 52,000 permits in 2023

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In the past year, Serbia witnessed a remarkable surge in foreign work permits, reaching over 52,000, marking a substantial 70% increase from the previous year. The capital, Belgrade, alone has seen an influx of 30,000 additional foreign workers. Despite this influx, there is still a demand for various job profiles, with an estimated shortage of approximately 20,000 drivers and a similar number in the hospitality sector.

Among the new arrivals, the largest group comprises workers from China, totaling 10,000. Following closely are citizens of Russia with 8,000, trailed by 5,500 workers from Turkey, 3,000 from India, and additional workers from Cuba, Nepal, Bangladesh, and neighboring countries.

Microsoft Serbia’s Director, Milan Gospić, highlighted the company’s recruitment strategy, targeting not only Serbia but the entire Western Balkans region for software development positions.

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In Republika Srpska, authorities predict that with the ongoing trend of declining unemployment, available office staff may be exhausted within the next four years.

Saša Aćić, Director of the Union of Employers of Republika Srpska, questioned the necessity of quotas in light of Germany’s flexible approach, emphasizing the futility of such restrictions.

Serbia, as a signatory of the Global Agreement on Migration, seeks to protect migrants and contribute to sustainable development. Initiatives such as the “Welcome to Serbia” informative system and labor market analysis play a crucial role in this framework, according to Donatela Bradić from the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Minister of Family Care and Demography, Darija Kisić, emphasized the positive integration of foreign workers into Serbian families. While acknowledging the inevitability of labor force migration, Kisić emphasized the government’s priority to encourage the return of Serbians who had previously sought employment abroad.

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As the European Union allocates substantial funds to African countries, Serbia has introduced a list of deficit occupations. Foreign citizens possessing required qualifications in these fields can bypass the National Employment Service’s approval process. The list remains dynamic, subject to adjustments based on the evolving demand for local workers and potential impacts on employment opportunities.

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