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Rise in Foreign Workforce Fills Gaps in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Industries

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is witnessing a notable increase in the employment of foreign workers, a trend particularly prominent in the construction sector. 

This shift is attributed to the emigration of local labor to more lucrative opportunities in the European Union.

Statistics from the Service for Affairs with Foreigners reveal a progressive rise in the issuance of work permits to foreign nationals. The year 2021 saw 2,319 permits issued, which rose to 2,619 in 2022. In a striking uptick, from January to November of the current year, 3,058 permits have been granted.

The primary contributors to this growing foreign workforce are Turkey, Serbia, India, China, and Nepal, with the most significant numbers being from Turkey and Serbia in the past two years. Interestingly, 2023 also saw individual work permits issued to nationals from diverse countries including the Aland Islands, Angola, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and the Solomon Islands.

This year, there’s been a request for over 10,000 work permits for foreign employees, as stated by Mario Nenadic, the director of the FBiH Employers’ Association. Industries facing the most significant labor shortages include wood, metal, chemical sectors, as well as services and catering.

The trend, noticeable over the last decade, shows a consistent reliance on workers from Turkey, Serbia, and Croatia. However, a recent surge in employees from Nepal and Bangladesh has been observed. This pattern is expected to persist, driven by the continuing migration of domestic workers abroad.

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