Slovenian Outlook

19.09.2010 01:00

Previousarticles have studied the interest and the potential of the ECo-C in some otherEuropean markets. This article inscribes itself in that particular tradition,examining the interest and challenges that the certificate would need to meetto take root in Slovenia.

AlthoughSlovenia is also one of the EU’s newer member-states, it finds itself in a veryparticular set of circumstances; the issues faced by its labour market are verydifferent from the ones that the Polish and Romanian markets face. Although italso suffers from a quickly aging population, the Slovenian market is widelysaid to reflect the state of the Slovenian economy. What that means is actuallydebatable.

On the onehand, relevant government statistics suggest that the market will continue toexpand, and that unemployment will remain low, with the exception of peopleaged over 55. The latter are said to be suffering from a shift in professionalstandards and qualifications, which reputedly poses problem when it comes torecognising qualifications, particularly for professionals who, in their day,could not graduate from university. The above can be summarized in a singlesentence, a sentence which also headlined the recently published OECD report onsaid market: „strong growth but labour shortage“. In addition, some OECD paperspublished in 2009 point out the issues caused by early retirements.

On theother hand, however, recent revelations in the Slovenian news suggest that budgetarydata issued by the government has been off by close to 20%. If true, this wouldprobably mean that the situation is much more problematic than previouslythought, particularly for the labour market, employees and employers alike.

AlthoughSlovenia has managed a significant structural shift, turning it into one of theEU’s healthiest new member states, this shallow perusal suggests that muchremains to be done; many contradictions must still be resolved, including thequestion mark over what the real data actually looks like. The issue of earlyretirement and the issues faced by the 55+ age group suggests that the labourmarket is in essence shorn of that segment of the population which is the mostexperienced, particularly with respects to social and communication skills,which has seen and sailed through crisis in the past and without which thetransition to an open-market economy would never have happened. Furthermore, recentreform has led to lower job security and a new set of social safety nets; thiswould imply a need for more workers who are able to function in a cloudycontext. The uncertainty over the economic circumstances of the country onlyintensifies this need.

 If the ECo-C were to take root in Slovenia,that is where it would most contribute. By providing mentoring in socialskills, it would make up for the missing age groups. At the same time, inmaking sure that a European standard of quality becomes locally recognised, itwould ensure that the Slovenian labour market has a quick, flexible outlet; oran “inlet”, as case may have it. It would put employers in a position torecognise the same skill-set in workers coming from abroad.

In thesetroubled times, it is often suggested that migrations should be restricted andlimited; but troubled times only last as long as they are allowed, and Sloveniahas, thus far, done well in guarding its prosperity. From the perspective of theEuropean Union, the free movement of persons is another safeguard to thisprosperity, in that strengthened international mobility can help remedy theinternal flaws of this or that labour market, as well as balance out countrieson a continent-wide basis, helping the block restore itself and prosperfurther.

Should Sloveniarise to face these challenges it would emerge strengthened, a model to manychallenged EU member states, just as it has been a model to many of the block’snewer members in their transition.


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