Romanian agriculture producers face “historic” labor force shortages

Romanian agriculture producers are warning about the “historic shortage” of workers in the sector, News.ro reported. Western Romania is particularly affected by this situation, with only 50% of the needed positions covered.

The lack of vocational schools that would prepare young workers for these jobs is one of the reasons for this situation, as identified by Laurentiu Baciu, the president of the Agriculture Producers Associations League (LAPAR). There is also a shortage of people who can operate agricultural machines, which leads to delays in performing the works, he explained.

“In Romania, we work with very many people close to the retirement age. In a few years, they will leave employment, and no young are following them as there are no schools to train them,” Baciu told News.ro. He explained that the Agriculture Ministry promised to reopen 40 agriculture high schools but these will start providing graduates only after a few years.

Baciu also pointed to the social aids “which encourage inactivity.” “The state encourages people not to work by paying these aids, and producers look for labor force outside of the country. We are trying to bring in people from Asian countries, from Indonesia, Pakistan or the Philippines. There are some cases in Romania of animal farms who hired Asian workers,” the LAPAR president told News.ro.

Between 2010 and 2015 the number of people employed in local agriculture dropped by 21.5%, from 1.6 million to 1.2 million, Emil Dumitru, the president of the Pro Agro National Federation, told News.ro.

“The farmers, especially those in Arad, Timis and Bihor counties, are bringing in overqualified mechanics from other EU member states, and they need to pay salaries way above the local average,” Dumitru explained.

For instance, the Curtici Agro-industrial Complex, which manages 7,600 hectares of land in Western Romania’s Arad county, pays the agricultural machines operators wages of over EUR 2,000 in order to retain them.

“If I don’t pay wages at international levels, people leave,” Dimitrie Musca, the director of the complex, said.

At the same time, in Western Romania, many farms work with Hungarian companies which bring in the equipment needed for farming.

“The problem is so serious that, through my company, we had to train people with only primary education because we could not find anyone else. The youth living in rural areas leave to work abroad, where they work in constructions. Only the old are left at home, and they will have to retire at some point. At my company, most of the employees are over 55, and even over 65 years old,” Ioan Andru, the president of the Agriculture Producers Association Aragra 2008, explained.

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