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Regular Pay Rises Becoming Common Practice in Many Sectors, Expert Says

Until a few years ago, wages in Bulgaria’s private sector were not increased very often, but now it is becoming an established practice to raise wages even more than once a year, Maria Stoeva of the local subsidiary of US-based staffing agency ManpowerGroup said on Bloomberg TV Bulgaria recently.
Stoeva said: “Unlike before, quite a few employers increase staff incomes twice within a single year. That used to be an exception, but now it is common practice. Our latest labour market survey covering the first six months of this year showed that over 50% of companies planned to increase wages by between 6% and 10%. We see considerable pay rise rates with almost all private employers, but that is not enough to make up for the loss of purchasing power of their employees due to steep inflation.”
Besides inflation, the shortage of specialists in various domains is another leading factor for increasing wages. Unemployment in Bulgaria has been decreasing steadily, Stoeva noted. “Unemployment has been low for many years except in 2020,” she said. “Specialists are in high demand, many job positions are vacant, and in some cases the staff shortages are acute. New investments are being made, and companies which are not new to the local market are also looking to recruit more staff. The natural gas crisis is not felt on the labour market, and most certainly, no staff cuts are being made.” “When we talk about a staff shortage, it depends very much on what business sector we are referring to. The business community is having a hard time, there are not enough skilled employees,” Stoeva said. Ever more companies want to invest in automation, digitization and making work easier, which requires personnel of higher skills, she said. This is happening in many sectors. Stoeva is convinced that the next few years will see a shift in the skills which are required.
She went on to argue: “It is very hard for people who do not speak foreign languages to build successful careers. Digital skills, too, are far more important now than they were five years ago. We use machines and computers in our work, which often requires foreign language skills, and those who cannot operate such equipment can easily drop out of the labour market.”
Although wages are growing, they are not always the most important consideration when choosing a job, the expert said. Workplace comfort and the work-life balance matter more and more these days. “The good news is that all sorts of considerations are becoming relevant to many people, including in those sectors where wages are increased most significantly, such as IT and outsourcing. Whereas in the past a young person would readily quit their job in pursuit of higher earnings, nowadays they would take into account things like the possibility to work from home,” Stoeva said.
Discussing workers from Ukraine, the expert said employers are very open to them and they have many job opportunities, although the share of refugees who have started work in Bulgaria is not large. “Many sectors are experiencing a major staff shortage, so employers are willing to recruit people from Ukraine, provided that they can do the respective job. There are options and opportunities so long as the Ukrainians are willing enough. In addition to IT and tourism, the manufacturing industries have been open to Ukrainians for years. Employers even used to pay a lot of money just to attract them. I would say with a certain degree of regret that few Ukrainians have started work recently, not all of them are looking for a job, but if they are, they can easily find one in Bulgaria.”