The Coalition for Romania’s Development (Coalitia pentru Dezvoltarea Romaniei –CDR) appreciates that Romania’s long-term economic growth objectives can be affected due to the labor shortage, which in the absence of the specific measures in this respect, will deepen in a few years.
To dimension the problem and to identify its possible sources, and especially to suggest viable short- and long-term solutions, CDR has requested a labor market analysis.
According to the survey entitled “The Barometer of the Labor Force” conducted by PwC Romania for CDR, Romania is in the top of the European countries in terms of the percentage of fit to work population, which is outside of the labor market (over 34%), being surpassed only by Italy and Croatia. Beyond pensioners and people hired in various forms of education, there are more than one million working-age people who are not involved in any economic activity, and the number of registered unemployed people is approximately 400,000. On the other hand, the official forecasts for the next 3 years regarding the relation between the labor market and the increase in GDP estimate around one million people necessary to be hired.
The analysis also reveals discrepancies between the Romanian counties, since there are prosperous counties in economic terms, but they don’t have the available labor force anymore; at the same time, there are counties with a large number of unemployed people. Furthermore, counties of both extremes are in almost all development regions, which opens the possibility to find solutions at regional level.
In a demographic context marked by the aging of the population and massive migration, which are already well-known phenomena, the Barometer suggests a set of measures, following the examples of best practices in other countries, that can reduce the short-term gap through the integration on the labor market of a higher percentage of the inactive population, including the partial employment of the pensioners or young people who study, respectively allow the temporary coverage of the gap with external resources.
This survey highlights once again the need to implement sustainable reforms in education, health and infrastructure, without which most of the problems related to the labor force cannot be solved on the long term. The labor force map drafted together with PwC is a useful tool in designing concrete projects, as well as strategies that can lead to solving the gaps between regions, or even between the counties of the same economic development region. Being a modern approach, implementing simplified measures will be adopted for sure by the private environment. Also, pilot projects at the level of the regions or industries, may represent the basis of the implementation at national level”, stated Adela Jansen, the Coordinator of the Coalition for Romania’s Development.
The survey indicates the reform of education as one of the key elements of overcoming this current crisis, as well as an instrument for avoiding its deepening. The development of the educational system can be done in two stages meant to speed up the effects of the reform. One of them concerns the university and dual school programs, whose curriculum must be correlated to the current needs of the labor market. At the same time, the second stage refers to structural, deep changes related to the secondary school years. A multiannual framework and a regular analysis will allow the adaptation to the quick changes on the labor market, while maintaining the objective to eliminate the basic malfunctions (such as functional illiteracy), as well as to prioritize the STEM competences.
“The document analyzes the long-term impact of technology and global demographic developments on the labor market. The occupations of the future will rely on digital skills in any field of activity. The set of immediate measures we suggest must be complemented on a long-term with a country strategy, in close collaboration with the business community. CDR is an association consisting of strong organizations, with many specialists who can contribute by bringing their expertise and finding solutions. This time also, we express our willingness to collaborate. This survey, which contains concrete recommendations for quick measures, is intended to be an open gate for a constructive dialogue”, Adela Jansen stated.
One in four Romanian children drop out before highschool completion, obsolete teaching methods to blame
One in four Romanian children drop out of school by the 12th grade and the main reason are the obsolete teaching methods that date from the time of their grandparents, with no connection to modern world, and nil efforts to render school attractive to students, Mariuca Talpes, representative of the Coalition for Romania’s Development (CDR) told a press conference.
“A major education issue is the fact that we lose a lot of children on the road. The dropout rate by the twelfth grade is 25 percent and 40 percent of eighth graders cannot read or understand a text. In the technical vocational system, 30 percent get a job in the field pursued in school, and 26 percent of the 30-year olds have pursued a faculty. In addition, a very small number pursue lifelong education. (…) A maximum 30 percent of the children get hired in the field they trained for,” Talpes said, presenting the conclusions of a survey on the subject.
According to her, investments are smallest in pre-primary and primary school education, where Romania invests the lowest in the EU, namely 0.7 percent of GDP, compared to the European average of 1.5 percent. Secondary education fares better, with investments at 1.5 percent of GDP, as to 1.9 percent the European average, and in tertiary education we are even above the European average in terms of the investment’s GDP share.
“Why are the children dropping out underway? The teaching methods are the same as in the times of our grandparents. School is no longer attractive to children. All their school activities are not related to the surrounding world, they don’t learn from projects, there is no integrated education. Children don’t enjoy schooling. We are trailing behind in terms of school attractiveness for children,” said the CDR representative.
She pointed out that there should be tough selection criteria for the teaching staff, who on the other hand should be paid twice the current wages. “By the eighth grade we lose 16 percent of the children, and the worst thing at this point is that almost half of them do not understand a text and are unable to solve a simple math problem,” Talpes said.
As for the teens, 7 percent attend art high schools, such as music, ballet, or pedagogy schools, while others pursue professional and technical education – 49 percent – and 44 percent attend theoretical high-schools.
Despite the rich professional and technical education system, only few graduates end up working in the industry. These schools should be linked to the economic environment, and children should complete practice stints in companies. This means that all technology high-schools should be dual, that would mean keeping jobs that are very much related to the technology of the future, and all the children who have a penchant for manual activities should battle to be admitted to these high-schools, Talpes said.
Children should easily enter college from any highschool, but only 33 percent of those who complete high-school also pass the baccalaureate. The dropout rate in college is 38 percent.
“Practical workshops should be reactivated, but not like in the old days, but at state of the art level, such as traditional crafts and robotics workshops that are highly attractive today. The business environment should be encouraged to get in touch with schools and offer them incentives, perhaps by lowering fees to compensate for all the investments that the business environment would place in schools,” the CDR official said.
On the other hand, as far as the IT&C industry is concerned, despite 7,000 students graduating annually, there is still a shortage of 5,000 employees, Talpes said.