ECONOMY

Employment in Greek economy to face challenges in state and private domains

A recent survey by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) among enterprises has shown them forecasting that within the next couple of years they will reduce their staff with primary or secondary school education, maintain high school graduates at the same numbers and considerably increase their number of higher education graduates. The reasons for the employees’ reduction include insufficiency of demand and increases in the non-salary cost of labor, but only for small enterprises. The large ones will cut their staff mainly due to small profit margins as competition intensifies. All large businesses are restructuring and allocating to third parties projects which they used to complete internally. Reducing salary costs is the biggest reason for cuts given by medium-sized enterprises. This particularly revealing survey shows the serious survival problem facing small companies, and the extensive restructuring that large enterprises (those employing over 1,000 people) are undergoing, intending to reduce unskilled staff. In the public sector, the situation is different. No staff cuts are forecast, except for the large and generous voluntary exit programs. Governments usually commit themselves loudly in Parliament that for every two people departing only one will be hired, yet every year the budget account shows an increase in payroll numbers. Will this miracle continue? Why not? After all, the modest program of privatizations announced does not worry anyone. It foresees the stock market entry of the Postal Savings Bank, the new subsidiary of the Greek Public Real Estate Corporation (KED) involved in property investments, and possibly Athens International Airport. It is also possible to see stakes increased in companies already listed, with the Public Power Corporation (PPC), the state lottery company (OPAP) and the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) being the prime candidates. If the serious social insurance problem is solved, it will clear the way for the privatization of Emporiki Bank. This is the line of argument government officials give off the record. Therefore demand for jobs in the public sector is likely to remain. It will continue to cover the Greeks, as foreigners are preferred in the private sector. Workers from abroad in production, construction and services are the vessel from which a new generation of businesspeople will emerge. Perhaps some of them make it big precisely because they lacked the dubious privilege of working in the public sector.