Lithuanians oppose unskilled migrants despite labour shortages

DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

There is a growing recognition that immigration will be needed to solve skill shortages in the Lithuanian labour market, but while Lithuanians are happy to let in highly qualified specialists from Belarus and Ukraine, they have negative views towards unskilled labourers from Turkey, Syria or Africa, new research shows.

“Lithuanians are most opposed to culturally different societies. Studies reveal that visitors from Islamic countries and blacks attract the most rejection. Those arriving from neighbouring countries and from historically closer societies receive more favourable views,” said Vytautas Magnus University Professor Algis Krupavičius.

With economic migrants, 23.8% of Lithuanian respondents would allow immigrants from Belarus as long as they were skilled workers. On the other hand, almost half of Lithuanians had negative views on unskilled workers from Turkey.

“It is clearly seen that certain sectors are slowly becoming dependent on foreign labour. For example, the logistics sector, especially in long-distance companies. Unlike refugees, the number of labour immigrants coming to Lithuania is growing,” said Karolis Žibas, a migration expert at the Ethnic Studies Institute.

Immigration is considered a practical solution for labour market skill shortages across the globe, and especially in the EU. Around 80-85% of EU population growth consists of immigrants from third countries, said Žibas.

In the 2015 European social survey, Lithuanians were asked whether Jews, Muslims and Roma should be allowed to come and stay in Lithuania.

Lithuanian residents were the most favourable towards Jews – 15.4%, but only 4.9% felt positively about Muslims and 3.5% about Roma moving to Lithuania. Every second respondent said that Roma should not be allowed to come and live in Lithuania at all.


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