Skype, an eBay Inc. Internet telephony company, is facing manpower shortage here stemming from a talent crunch in the relatively small population, coupled with strict European Union hiring restrictions.
“Right now we have survived but we are not sure about the future,” claims a company spokesperson. “It may certainly have some effect on our projects. The strict Estonian laws do not promote hiring from outside the European Union.”
Skype says it has been lobbying with the Estonian government to relax hiring laws. “We are trying to talk to the government about employing talent from overseas including India. Now, they have started listening to us,” the spokesperson added.
Skype is a voice over Internet protocol service company and enables making and receiving calls to and from landline and mobile phones, as well as voicemail and call forwarding. Skype’s services, available in 28 languages, are accessed by 196 million users.
It has 500 employees around the world, of which 300 are based in Tallin. The company was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis and was later bought by eBay in 2005 for $2.6 billion.
Voicing similar concerns Pirko Konsa, board member, Technopol, said: “Including the technology sectors, the labour force shortage is present in many sectors. On the other hand, the salaries are rising 15% to 20% annually. Even the demographic outlook looks dim.”
Technopol is an IT park and is an initiative of the International Association of Science Parks. It supports existing and future companies in setting up operations by entering into research collaborations with universities and research and development institutions in the region where it is located.
Estonia has a gross domestic product annual growth rate of 11.4%, but the economy has started to cool for a variety of reasons including labour shortages. Estonia has an area of 45,000 sq. km and a population of only around 1.34 million.
Deputy minister at ministry of economic affairs and communications Siim Kiisler concedes there are labour shortages. “As the economy is growing very quickly, many businesses are having difficulty in finding employees,” he said.
Some “10 years back it was not the case. Due to this, we expect our economy to slow down a little bit”.