ArmInfo. Unemployment in Armenia keeps growing due to the unfavorable business environment and socio-economic situation. The outflow of population from the country is dramatically growing, Nana Heruni Managing Director of Tanger Recruitment Company, has told ArmInfo's correspondent.
"The migration has political, economic and psychological reasons. In addition to our state's favorable policy regarding depopulation of Armenia, the foreign states, particularly, Russia and the United States, are conducting a policy aimed at attracting gifted and enterprising Armenians," Heruni says, adding that the Russian higher education institutions annually provide Armenian citizens with free education and hundreds of Armenian students with scholarships. In 2014, the United States issued 2,000 green cards to the citizens of Armenia, whereas for the citizens of Georgia and Azerbaijan the number of green cards was twice and four times lower, respectively.
"Very often people in our country come across problems when launching their own business due to monopolization of certain economy sectors, unequal competition, corruption that makes Armenian businessmen launch production in Georgia, for instance, where the business launch is encouraged and all favorable conditions are created," Heruni says. Ordinary citizens leave for other countries (particularly, to Russia) to find a job and this ruins a lot of Armenian families. The expert recalls that an average of 30,000 - 50,000 people per annum leave Armenia. According to the Migration Service of Armenia, the annual indicator of those leaving abroad is 60,000-70,000 people (up to 100,000 due to seasonal factors). As a rule, half of them do not return.
In this context, Heruni recalls the compatriots who left Armenia 20-25 years ago, many of them would like to return to Armenia and launch a business here. However, the legal and tax field is far from being favorable. On the contrary, it is being toughened with every passing year. "The impression is that they are trying to drive out all the remaining businessmen," she stresses, noting that most of the Syrian Armenians face big financial and social problems in Armenia and have to look for better life somewhere else. "Instead of helping these people to integrate in our social life, the authorities put a spoke in their wheels. The government overtly supports migration and considers it to be a positive phenomenon from the viewpoint of macroeconomics," she notes. Heruni points out that the state considers the growth in Russian transfers to Armenia (due to the increase in the number of migrants) to be the most effective way to reactivate economy. "This is a criminal policy in many senses and can be disastrous for Armenian people," Heruni says.
The expert emphasizes that the actual unemployment in Armenia is about 30% (according to international organizations' data), whereas the statistics of the republic publishes 18%. "This is a wrong and ridiculous figure because it is based on the number of citizens who apply to the State Employment Service. But the number of those who register at the Service is very small," she says, noting that the Service is equipped and financed well enough and could have been more active. "Amid tough competition, experienced people are very often left jobless. It is necessary to create a state program to motivate the employers who hire people above a certain age. Caring about aged people is the prerogative for the public sector rather than the private one," she stresses.
The state programs implying involvement of private employment agencies cannot cause the private sector's interest, she says. Notwithstanding this, a year ago Tanger managed to successfully implement a UN- funded project on employment of Syrian Armenians through the mediation of the State Employment Service. At the same time, the company is successfully cooperating with other organizations, particularly, with OFFI (Office Francais de l'Immigration et de l'Integration), holding training courses for the repatriates wishing to find a worthy job or launch their business in Armenia. The company also participated in the program on temporary repatriation of compatriots with high professional qualification. The program is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs via IOM. Along with this, Tanger is currently working with many higher education institutions of Armenia, cooperating with their career centers and graduates.
Heruni notes that in 2016 the number of job-seekers' applications dropped by 10.7% as compared to 2015, and the number of employers - by 33%. Given the complicated situation related to employment, she notes the Government's intention to ratify the European Convention No. 181 (Private Employment Agencies Convention, under which private employment agencies do not charge any fees from the employees fully or partly - editor's note), which will result in closure or shadow activities of private employment agencies. "This is a young sector in Armenia and it should not be broken by legislative acts. One cannot apply the prosperous European countries' laws to Armenia, because the labor market in Armenia has its own specificity. But Europe sets its requirements and the government tries to meet them blindly," she stresses. "Today we provide not only recruitment services, but also outsourcing, outstaffing, and other recruitment-related services, which will allow us to retain our positions on the market even if the European Convention is ratified, but I cannot say the same about other private agencies," she says. In this regard, the expert pointed at the data of the Republican Union of Employers of Armenia, which says that some 800-1000 microbusinesses closed monthly in 2016.
As regards the future of the national labor market, the expert points at the outflow of population to Russia. "But this year the republic is holding elections. If people really caring for Armenia's fate come to power, something may change. Otherwise, the situation will be changing even for worse" she notes.
To note, Tanger Recruitment Agency has been operating on the Armenian market since 2001. It specializes in recruitment of middle and top level managers, professional personnel in all sectors of economy, selection of staff for foreign companies in Armenia, and also provides outsources, outstaffing, outplacement and other services.
According to the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA), in 2017 unemployment in Armenia will make up 18.5%, with annual reduction by 0.3-0.4 pct points to 18- 18.2% and 17.6-18% in 2018-2019, respectively. The CBA's previous forecast made in November 2016 pointed out 18.3% unemployment for 2017, and growth from 17.8% to 18.1% for 2016. The updated (February) forecast is published in the CBA's monetary policy program for Q1 2017, which says that the low demand for labor force due to the low economy activity in 2016 will gradually recover in 2018-19 due to the acceleration of the economic growth. This, in turn, will slowly increase employment.
To note, according to official statistics, unemployment in the country made up 18.5% in 2015, 17.6% in 2014, 16.2% in 2013. In Jan-Sept 2016, unemployment grew from 18.2% (in Q1) to 18.4% (in Q2), and dropped to 18.1% (Q3).