‘There are jobs for Russian speakers, accountants and techies’
06 March 2011 14:48 - Author: Stelios Orphanides

THE SURGE in unemployment following the eruption of the global financial crisis in 2008 combined with a steady inflow of workers from EU countries has made Cyprus’ labour market more competitive, a recruitment consultant said.

"The labour market was until 2009 candidate driven and enterprises even paid money to attract workers," George Georgiou, director of the Cyprus operations of AP Executive, a recruitment consultancy company for mid and top managers, told the Sunday Mail. "This led to an increase in earnings. Tides however turned and the market is now client driven".

The number of registered unemployed rose by 24 per cent year on year to 29,806 in February, according to the Cyprus Statistical Service. The unemployment rate rose to 7.4 per cent in January according to Eurostat, from 7.3 per cent the month before and 6.1 per cent a year earlier. In August 2008, a month before Lehman Brothers collapsed, unemployment in Cyprus was 3.5 per cent.

In October 2010, the number of EU workers in Cyprus was 60,005, compared to 48,919 in October 2008, which translates into a 23 per cent increase in two years, according to Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance data.

"In the last couple of months, we have been witnessing wide range redundancies at large companies. Companies have cash flow problems," Georgiou said. "This applies to local companies, especially supermarkets".

The number of registered unemployed who previously worked in the trade sector rose by 1,165 in February compared to a year before, according to CyStat.

Increased competition on the labour market favours more job seekers with qualifications, while unskilled or low skilled workers have the worst prospects, according to Georgiou. "There is currently demand for people with Russian language skills, and qualifications in finance related areas, such accountancy, or technical professions".

Cyprus was "lucky" as a country to benefit from the inflow of Russian capital, he added.

One in three euros deposited in banks in Cyprus, or around €21 billion belong to non-residents who are mainly Russians or depositors from other eastern European countries.

On the other hand, workers with "transferable skills" such as bookkeepers or programmers are still demanded by companies in Cyprus, which are even willing to hire workers from other countries with little or no Greek language skills at all, he said. "If a company wants to hire a bookkeeper or a programmer, it does not matter whether the applicant speaks Greek or not. What matters is to be able to enter data".

Companies also resort to hiring non-Cypriots who are generally willing to accept a position that pays less compared to the expectations of Cypriot applicants, according to the AP Executive director. "Cypriot job seekers are somewhat spoiled. Especially people from the younger generation have such expectations that may allow them to easily turn down a 1,000 euros job. They can still rely on support from their families".