Procedure for entry of labour migrants to Russia may be simplified already by spring

According to the instruction of the president, the regulatory and legal documentation must be prepared by the end of February

Three thousand fewer migrant workers are expected in Russia this year, in accordance with the government's instructions to invite only those specialists without whom domestic employers can not do without. In Tatarstan, on the contrary, as calculated by the analytical service of Realnoe Vremya, the number of invited foreign workers is as much as four times higher than last year's figures. However, this is only at first glance — a sharp increase occurred against the background of an equally sharp decline in the number of quotas for 2020, so now the republic is within the general trend in the country, it only equalises the figures to the average values. Who is expected to work in Tatarstan this year?

Four times more migrant workers

As paradoxical as it may sound, but in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and the total restriction of international passenger traffic, Tatarstan companies in 2021 required four times more foreign workers than a year earlier. Moreover, plans to attract labour migrants were built precisely in 2020 and 2019. For example, in 2021, 2,098 foreign workers are expected in the republic, and a year earlier, the plans were for only 446 migrants.

“It is difficult to give an unambiguous answer to the growth of international migration in the republic. We have the opportunity to bring the so-called 'off-quota workers' here for installation supervision works, in accordance with the decree of the government of the Russian Federation. Somewhere it is very difficult to track this — if imported equipment is installed, and an engineer who has access to this equipment comes from abroad. Also, one of the reasons may be that the movement was without permits in the conditions of the Customs Union (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan)," explained the head of the Department of Labour Migration and Interaction with Employers of the Ministry of Labour of Tatarstan, Azat Ayupov.

However, in fairness, I must say that the sharp demand for foreign labour in Tatarstan in 2021 has increased after a strong decline a year earlier, so now the republic is more likely to equalise the indicators to the usual ones, in particular, there were times (quotas for 2019) when the request for the import of labour force was even higher.

“Quotas are the so-called “wishes and desires”, but this does not mean that they will all come. Yes, they applied that there is an increase compared to last year, but as practice shows, our quotas are 50 per cent higher at best. But the general trend is 40 per cent. Those who have special specifications and interesting professions are invited under quaotas. During the pandemic — highly qualified specialists”, added Ayupov.

At the same time, the monthly wage fund for them has increased more than seven times. And the average salary offered in the new year has increased by 8,3%. If we exclude invited foreign athletes, who traditionally receive more than ordinary employees, from the calculation of the average salary in 2020, then the increase in motivation for foreign employees was 15,7%.

Who invites and who is welcomed

If you carefully study the list of professions (specialties, positions) to attract foreign workers arriving in Russia on the basis of a visa, then 96% of migrant workers are invited from Turkey — they are called to work on our construction sites.

Almost half of the labour migrants in Tatarstan (in 2021) are attracted by the Turkish company ENKA İnşaat ve Sanayi Anonim Şirketi (1,020 employees). A year earlier, the construction company waited for 300 people. Working profession are required first and foremost: fitters, bricklayer, gas welder, concrete pump operator, truck crane operator, crane operator and others. The weighted average salary for these vacancies is 35,177 rubles.

Approximately the same number of employees (1,000 people) are assigned quotas from the same Turkish Republic by Gemont PLC, but with a salary already twice as high — 79,306 rubles.

From China, they call medical workers with a salary of 50 thousand to 80 thousand rubles and two cooks. Cooks, culinary specialists, confectioners with a salary of 35-40 thousand rubles are expected from Georgia. From the East (from Indonesia and Thailand), massage therapists and cosmetologists with an income of 25-40 thousand rubles are needed.

“Maybe by the summer-autumn, businesses will breathe more freely”

We all remember how in April the streets in Tatarstan were emptied, and traffic at the Kazan International Airport decreased. However, the official statistics of Tatarstanstat surprises with an increase in international migration traffic in January-November 2020 — obviously, as soon as the restrictions were lifted in May-June, everyone who had to fly or arrive rushed into the remaining “window”, and the April “gap” was filled.

The number of international arrivals is 7,378, which is by 17,1% higher than in the same period in 2019. Moreover, about the same number of people had the opportunity to leave the republic in 2020 (7,220 people or +53,6% compared to last year). The migration increase was 158 people.

It is worth noting that the lion's share of migration fell on the CIS countries. 6,900 people arrived and 6,695 left.

“At the level of the Russian Federation, documents are being developed to bring the situation with the movement of foreigners into the legal field. The Russian president has instructed the government to simplify the procedure for the entry of labour migrants. Perhaps by the spring, the regulatory and legal documentation will be prepared and, accordingly, on the basis of these documents, our businesses may breathe more freely by the summer-autumn," Azat Ayupov believes.

The head of GMC Consulting, Galina Mashtakova, reminds that in the conditions of coronavirus restrictions and closed borders, a fairly large part of migrants, even for whom the republic had quotas, could not return to Russia and continue working:

“Therefore, labor migration (external) has been reduced. We received much less influx of migrant workers from neighbouring countries than in previous periods. If we talk about our outflow of labor migration to work in other countries, there were also many restrictions, the outflow also decreased. Yes, fewer quotas were approved, but this will have little impact on the indigenous population. The indigenous population preferred to work in more skilled jobs and positions and with a higher level of remuneration, so, in principle, their need does not change. We simply have a niche of low-skilled positions and those jobs that are performed at a low level of remuneration will remain open, which is what we see today in production and in all areas where labour migrants were attracted: mechanical engineering, automotive industry, production and processing in the agro-industrial complex.”

According to her, only a small part of foreigners come as highly qualified workers, or occupy leadership positions. “This is due to the investment projects that are being implemented in our country. If foreign investors visit us, they prefer to bring their own trained specialists. There are no special difficulties here, but the bulk of our quotas are still workers and handymen," Mashtakova said.

“Now the business has definitely become more active. Those who were already working in 2020 have sunk and are now trying to make up for lost opportunities. This is true in almost all sectors of the economy. Only services are still poorly restored. Besides, we planned to launch new investment projects, launch new production facilities. And just for them, we will need a fairly large number of migrants. They will attract not only our indigenous population, but also migrants. Can the quota mechanism be a tool to reduce the cost of white wages? No, it can't. There are already established wage funds at enterprises, it will not be cheaper. Employers will not be willing to raise the level of wages for handymen. The quota mechanism can be a regulator of the “gray” labour market, including that in which migrants from neighbouring countries work in our country. And then it is a good tool for organised migration," the interlocutor of the publication believes.

In turn, Vladimir Gimpelson, the director of the HSE Centre for International Studies, also noted the impact of the pandemic on migration flows: “Whether migration will level off in 2021, the answer to this question will depend on what happens with Covid-19.” According to him, under quotas from abroad, Russia can attract both professors to universities and managers to international companies.

“The quota mechanism cannot be a tool for leaving the 'gray' salary. The reduction of quotas this year across Russia may be due to several circumstances. Perhaps, they were overstated and were not selected and they decided to cut them for a specific number. Perhaps, there were fewer applications”, Gimpelson believes.

By Yevgeny Khramov