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Bulgaria short of workers in energy projects

Bulgaria plans to import qualified labor for the planned major undertakings in the energy sector.

The priority projects include the Belene nuclear power plant (NPP) and oil pipelines, daily Dnevnik quoted Labor Minister Emilia Maslarova as saying in an interview with Reuters.“We are talking about tens of thousands of laborers mainly in the construction, energy and tourism sectors,” Maslarova was quoted as saying.

“We already import laborers, but with big infrastructure projects and huge foreign investments coming up, we will have to speed up the process,” she added.

Bulgaria has an unemployment rate of seven per cent and a dwindling population as immigration to North America and Western Europe shows no sign of slowing down. As a consequence, the country is experiencing an increasing shortage of qualified labor.

The ministry plans to meet with employer associations to come up with a five-year strategy on the issue, which will single out the priority sectors and geographic regions that should receive the bulk of the new arrivals.

Bulgaria's eastern European neighbors, such as Ukraine and Moldova, would be targeted first, but the ministry would also consider other countries, including Vietnam, India and Egypt, Maslarova said.

To prevent the laborers from using Bulgaria only as a transit destination on their way to Western Europe, the ministry will issue them work permits that would be valid only in Bulgaria, she added. (Sofiaecho)