An August poll suggests that 72 percent of Estonian citizens do not deem it necessary to increase the country’s immigration quota. The survey also found that 63 percent of people believe Estonia does not need labor from outside the EU.
People who said Estonia does not need workers from third countries believe that there is not enough work for Estonians, and that the state should make use of its own people whom it has enough.
Those who supported bringing in labor from outside the EU, making up 27 percent of people questioned, said that Estonia is suffering from labor shortage, Estonians do not want to do dirty jobs and are leaving the country while the population continues to age.
Despite a generally negative attitude toward foreign labor, certain controversies appeared in terms of different types of labor. 68 percent of people believe Estonia should welcome highly educated and paid specialists (25 percent deem it unnecessary), while 47 percent are convinced it could also use middle-level specialists (46 percent find it unnecessary).
More people therefore support bringing qualified and skilled labor to Estonia than oppose it. Seasonal foreign labor is deemed necessary by 39 percent of people and unskilled labor by just 28 percent.
Estonia’s immigration quota for 2017 is 1,317 people or 0.1 percent of the population and was met already in the first half-year.
“The reasons for this include salary advance and labor shortage, whereas the quota does not cover several exceptions, like EU, US, and Japanese citizens, ICT sector workers, investors, and family members,” said analyst at NGO Social Studies Institute Peeter Espak.
The Estonian Employers Confederation has proposed increasing the quota as one possible solution, while the results of the study suggest Estonians would not support it. “Nearly three-quarters of people questioned believe it is unnecessary to raise the quota,” Espak said.
He said it is probable people associate foreign labor from third countries with poor education and dirty jobs. “That is why disinclination toward foreign labor in general far outweighs opposition to highly educated specialists and skilled labor,” the analyst said.
Geographic and cultural background of potential foreign workers also affects people’s attitudes. People were asked whether workers from different parts of the world should be allowed in freely, in limited numbers, sparingly, or not at all.
75 percent of people questioned supported allowing limited numbers of labor from developed countries into Estonia. The figure was 47 percent for non-EU European countries, 27 percent for China and India, 24 percent for the Far East, and 17 percent for third world countries.
The poll was carried out online from August 9-16 among 1,052 citizens at least 18 years of age. The survey was ordered by the Social Studies Institute and carried out by pollster Turu-uuringute AS.