Romania booming - Where are the people?


Romania is booming again with a growth of almost 5%. All speakers at an international investment conference in Bucharest were highly positive about the economy. But the workforce is missing. Where are the people? Well 4 million Romanians have gone abroad during the past 20 years. Can some of them be convinced to go home? Doubtful. The solution is rather opening the borders for immigration. Hard to swallow for some, already reality for many.

 Romania booming - Where are the people?

It is the current megatrend across CEE. The economies are doing well, but skilled labor is painfully lacking. AUDI in Hungary is shipping busloads of Slovak workers to their factory in Györ. Peugeot in Slovakia in turn recruits Serbian and Ukranians. Austrian shopping centers hire away Slovak sales people for double money and therefore Slovak shops have a hard time. Already 1 million Ukranians moved to Poland during the past 3 years and Poland needs another 5 million immigrants during the next 20 years in order to keep up growth. The war for talent has already crossed the borders and is affecting all industries. Tourism, automotive, IT and we have not even spoken yet about healthcare, where specialised headhunting agencies chase doctors and nurses to move abroad.

A Hungarian restaurant posted a sign saying:
"Dear Customer, please be more patient with our waiters. It is easier to find new customers than new waiters."

Apart from immigration the only other solution is to increase salaries significantly. Then people would not leave and some might even return. Blue collar workers still earn a fraction (around 30-50%) of their Western colleagues. On the white collar management side this difference is already history. CEE managers earn just as much as their Western counterparts, sometimes even more.


Dr. Klemens Wersonig
Founder & CEO
TARGET Executive Search