Future jobs in the Baltics: like elsewhere in Europe tech roles win out

2024 01 30

With the turn of the year, most of us are in reflection and planning mode. Either we’re in the process of rolling out marketing and sales plans for the new year or we’re completing thoughts on life and career changes we’d begun to have over the holiday period. So say you’re a candidate looking for new work opportunities in the Baltic markets (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). Which are the hot sectors looking for new talent at the moment?

Tech specialists wanted

Per reports from Latvia’s Ministry of Economics, specialist technological roles will remain in high demand and the country will have to deal with a worker shortage. The government anticipates it will be roughly 9,000 people short in filling new tech roles focused on work in natural sciences, ICT and engineering. Neighbouring Lithuania finds itself in a similar situation with strong investment in the start-up space and the recent launch of Tech Zity Vilnius which looks to help new, small businesses with their strategic planning, product development and service roll-outs. The Lithuanian mindset centres around doing more with less and so innovative entrepreneurs with good ideas and passion can find support (both government and private) for new initiatives. The welcoming entrepreneurial atmosphere in Lithuania and other Baltic countries is also a draw for international talent, with skilled technicians from Belarus and Ukraine looking for work in these markets to help them grow beyond fairly limited opportunities in their home countries. Successful start-ups like Trafi, Interactio, Vinted and Mindletic are just a few examples of how backing innovation has paid off. Then, of course, there are always promising roles in Tallinn, Estonia’s and Europe’s fintech capital.

Life Sciences and R&D investment

Lithuania is a market that has benefited greatly from investment into science education. The Lithuanian life sciences sector is growing a pace and understandably attracting the attention of foreign investors who wish to take advantage of the country’s skilled talent pool. Companies like Thermo Fischer Scientific and Caszyme are active in the Lithuanian life sciences sector, encouraged by the national government’s proposed plans to invest 5% of GDP into this space by 2030. Interestingly, in Latvia, there is the possibility that demand for silver economy services will grow significantly over the coming decade. Thus businesses active in healthcare, medical research, and related social services will likely grow as the country’s population continues to age. Estonia’s economy is also marked by a shortage of experts in the healthcare sector. The government recently added a number of health- and medical-related positions to its list of 23 in demand jobs that could help foreign nationals secure work visas: doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and healthcare assistants are at the top of the list.

Future focus on adaptation and agile roles

Not all sectors have met with stable or even increasing job growth over the past half-decade. For example, in Lithuania the manufacturing sector recently hit some bumps as demand for chemicals needed for Covid vaccines slowed. Lithuanian businesses had been an important partner in supplying chemical components of the vaccines and now they are having to adjust their production focus. This will take some time and strategic planning. Economists note that for Lithuanian businesses and their employees wariness about inflation and purchasing power continue to impact consumer-worker behaviour. Although prices have gone down significantly over the past year, locals are worried about future supply chain bottlenecks and energy price hikes bringing back a higher cost of living. Interestingly enough, energy sourcing concerns have inspired the government and local businesses to look into renewable energy alternatives thus suggesting new work opportunities could soon become available in this space. Meanwhile, Latvia, as noted above, is struggling with an ageing population so its investment into bridging employment and skills gaps will likely run similarly to the path neighbouring Estonia is taking in a) supporting international worker mobility to attract inbound talent and b) providing targeted work visas to help address temporary worker shortages.

Like elsewhere in the world, the Baltic nations are moving through a period of economic transformation and upheaval. As markets and demand for skills and services evolve, businesses and their employees will have to find ways to match knowledge and skills to markets impacted by new technologies (AI, automation) and shifting product demand. As I’ve noticed in other commentary in our industry, and this is a premise with which I tend to agree, future roles will require candidates to work based on more broadly applicable and transferable skills sets. Our markets in the Baltic countries are no exception. Skills training and upskilling will be critical in coming years so it’s time to prepare ourselves. In fact, we needed to begin yesterday.

Daniele Merlerati, Chief Regional Officer APAC, Switzerland, Baltics at Gi Group Holding