Labour Market in CEE-17

In the following chapter Randstad together with it's partner companies Ancor and Staffpoint, have provided a country-by-country overview of various labour market conditions and trends across the CEE-17 region. The description is supported by data illustrating the salary levels within the production and logistics sectors for both blue and white collar workers.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates reported by Eurostat in July 2020 across CEE were the lowest in the Czech Republic at 2%, followed by Poland at 3.2%. Rates of below 5% were also reported in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia. At the same time, salaries have increased, in some years, reaching double digit growth. Candidates have started to become aware of their value on the scarce labor market and have become more selective in terms of their future employers. With numerous possibilities available, even though the salary remains to be the main selection criteria, other factors have started to play an important role. These include the company’s reputation on the market, good working conditions and atmosphere, career progression opportunities and work-life balance.

Skilled, blue-collar candidates remain the biggest challenge in terms of recruitment for the production and logistics industries. After the fall of the vocational school system in most of the countries, the availability of skilled employees is slowly growing thanks to the efforts of employers, who train their personnel, on a regular basis to ensure production continuity. There is also a relentless need for engineering and R&D roles.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had and continues to have an impact on labour markets. Production stoppages have forced companies to reorganize their workforces. Although a reduction of part of the personnel might seem like the quickest solution to cut costs, most of the companies were hesitant to do so, having in mind the effort and funds invested in building up their teams. Instead, reductions in salaries and hours worked, asking employees to use up their outstanding holidays and freezing bonus systems were introduced. Many companies stopped using contingent workforce and utilizing the advantage of flexibility in such contracts. As a result, and rather surprisingly for many, the pool of available candidates didn’t increase as much as one would expect and unemployment rates went up but remained relatively steady. Candidates coming from different industries also hit hard by the pandemic, like the HoReCa sector, were not interested in taking jobs in production or logistics. There were also other industries that had growing needs for personnel during that time, like pharmaceutics, medical equipment and e-commerce.

Currently, as the situation is slowly improving, we are again observing limited availability of the most desired positions on the market. However, companies are rather rebuilding their workforce than increasing headcount, still having in mind the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19. As a result, we predict that the temporary workforce will become an even more popular solution on the market. The pandemic also made further changes to the way employees look at their future employers. In the near future, we expect that job security and a company’s financial stability will close the gap to the salary and benefits in the job selection criteria.

Key contacts

Paweł Kopeć
Head of Enterprise Solutions Center | Randstad Polska
Raluca Dumitrescu
Business Development Manager | Randstad Romania


Payments in Estonia 

PRODUCTION | Monthly gross salary in EUR
unskilled production operator75012001,344
skilled production operator2,0002,1002,500
team leader/foreman1,7002,3002,400
plant manager3,4003,5004,500
production manager2,5002,8003,300
production/process engineer2,0002,4003,000
LOGISTIC | Monthly gross salary in EUR
warehouse worker9001,0001,400
forklift operator1,0001,4001,750
team leader/foreman1,4001,6001,800
logistics specialist1,5001,9002,200
warehouse manager2,0002,3002,800
distribution center manager    -4,0005,500


As there has been severe shortage of employees in Estonia for some time, this has driven the rise of salary requirements. COVID-19 and the ensuing economic crisis have affected the labour market in Estonia. In particular, the number of vacancies decreased in March 2020 but, due to government measures, there was only a slight decrease of salary expectations as people have preferred to stay at home and are not eager to enter the job market.

Around 120,000 people received wage support in April, which is a fifth of those in employment, and some of them would have lost their jobs without the support measures. The level of unemployment is expected to rise when the wage compensation supports ends and could exceed 13% by the end of 2020.

Unlike the great financial crisis that started in 2008, which hit the production and logistics sectors the hardest, this crisis has hit most in the labour-intensive service sector. In the production and logistics sectors we have observed a return to a more normal and stable situation. Comparing July to April 2020, there are 95% more vacancies in production and 70% more in logistics.

According to Statistics Estonia, in June 2020 the production of industrial enterprises decreased by 6% compared to June 2019. Production decreased in manufacturing and mining, while energy production increased, owing to last year’s low comparison basis.

It is continuously challenging to find people for basic unskilled roles, and in the production sector there is a high demand for welders and CNC operators. Estonia is a small country and the situation is similar across the country. Many smaller cities have received foreign investments but currently have serious difficulties in filling production operator positions and even unskilled blue-collar roles.

At the beginning of the current crisis, during the lockdown period, several logistics companies were actively recruiting additional temporary workers in order to manage the increased level of orders in e-commerce. Initial requests came from retailers, which were followed by inquiries from delivery companies.

Estonia has a national airline and one of the biggest passenger ship operations in Northern Europe. Both have been severely impacted by the crisis and have made redundancies. Partly as a result, it is currently easier to find specialists for transport logistic positions.