Slovenia is a Central European country, bordering on Austria (to the north), Italy (to the west), Hungary (to the north-east) and Croatia (to the east and south). It has a surface area of 20,273 km2 and a population of 2,108,708.
The country is divided into two cohesion regions. The East Slovenia cohesion region comprises eight statistical regions (Pomurska, Primorsko-Notranjska, Podravska, Posavska, Zasavska, Koroška, Savinjska and South-East Slovenia), while the West Slovenia cohesion region comprises four statistical regions (Central Slovenia, Gorenjska, Goriška and Obalno-Kraška). They differ from each other in terms of geographical characteristics and level of economic development. The regions in the western part of the country are the most developed and are mainly service-oriented, while the eastern part of the country is less developed, more sparsely populated and more oriented towards farming and industrial activity.
Central Slovenia, where the country’s capital is located, is the strongest region in terms of economic development, and is the administrative, economic, cultural and scientific centre of the country. As many as a third of all Slovenian companies are situated in Central Slovenia. Many residents from other regions commute to work in this region, including from Zasavska. According to figures from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SURS), the percentage of the workforce in employment commuting from Zasavska to work in another region is the highest in the country. The largest numbers of people in Central Slovenia are employed in public administration and defence, compulsory social security activities, education, healthcare, trade, hospitality and transport, followed by professional, scientific, technical and other business activities, in contrast to the majority of the other regions, where manufacturing predominates. The region also has the highest salaries in the country.
The region where strong commercial performance and export-oriented companies have given rise to salaries that are consequently higher than the Slovenian average is South-East Slovenia. This is the largest region geographically, covering 2 675 km2. The region is dominated by the production of pharmaceutical preparations and the automotive industry.
Gorenjska is a statistical region with one of the highest employment rates and the lowest registered unemployment rate, and joins Central Slovenia and South-East Slovenia in being among the top most developed Slovenian regions. With its predominately Alpine location, it is one of Slovenia’s tourism-focused regions. However, the highest employment rate by sector is in manufacturing, followed by trade, hospitality and transport.
The Pomurska region, which is situated in the north-east of the country, differs most of all from Central Slovenia in terms of level of development. This region is predominantly focused on agriculture, as well as on wellness and spa tourism. Its industrial enterprises are mostly engaged in the food-processing and metalworking industries, with civil engineering also more prominent than in other regions. The region has the highest registered unemployment rate and the lowest employment rate in the country.
Besides the Pomurska region, the East Slovenia cohesion region includes Podravska, the second largest region in Slovenia, which borders Austria (Steiermark) to the north and Croatia to the south. The region is home to many enterprises active in manufacturing, and the service sector has also undergone development. The region’s development strengths include its geostrategic position, industrial tradition, the development of transport infrastructure, and the level of integration of the research infrastructure of the University of Maribor and other institutions of learning into the business sphere. However, the region still has a very low employment rate.
Despite the increasing share of the service industry, industrial enterprises remain a major source of employment in Slovenia. In addition to manufacturing industries, especially metalworking and the production of electrical appliances, the production of rubber and plastic products, the production of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers, and the production of other machinery and equipment, the main sectors and sources of employment in the country are trade, education, healthcare and social security activities, construction, professional, scientific and technical activities, transport and storage. The companies ranking as the largest employers in the country are: Mercator d.d., Ljubljana, Krka d.d., Novo mesto, Pošta Slovenije d.o.o., Maribor, Lek d.d., Ljubljana, Gorenje d.o.o., Velenje, Engrotuš d.o.o., Celje, Revoz, d.d., Novo mesto, Telekom Slovenije, d.d., Ljubljana, Adecco H.R. d.o.o., Ljubljana, SŽ – Infrastruktura d.o.o., Ljubljana, Petrol d.d., Ljubljana, Hella Saturnus Slovenija d.o.o., Ljubljana, SŽ-VIT d.o.o., Ljubljana, Mahle Electric Drives Slovenija d.o.o., Šempeter pri Gorici and Unior d.d., Zreče.
In 2021, the Covid-19 epidemic and the associated restrictive measures adopted to contain the spread of the coronavirus no longer had such a strong impact on the Slovenian economy as in 2020. Consumers and companies adapted to the restrictions, while measures were gradually eased, so activities picked up pace especially in manufacturing and transport. With state assistance, a gradual recovery began in the summer in the service sector, including in hospitality and tourism. This year the situation has been less encouraging and once again more uncertain. Due to the war in Ukraine and the consequences of sanctions against Russia, the economic climate deteriorated in March, and mainly because of the growth in prices of raw materials and energy we have seen a rise in inflation, with economic growth expected to slow down.
The significant economic recovery in 2021 has had a favourable effect on the labour market. Employment reached a record high, unemployment was drastically reduced, and favourable employment trends were also visible in the first months of this year. Due to a shortfall in domestic labour, since structural gaps increased, there was also a growth in the employment of workers from abroad. The average level of registered unemployment in 2021 compared to the previous year fell by 12.6%, while at the end of March this year the Employment Service registered 26.7% fewer unemployed persons than in March 2021. According to the latest data for February 2022 those in active employment rose on an annual level by 3.0%.
The sectors in which in February 2022 compared to the same month last year fewer people were employed were farming and hunting, forestry, fishing and financial and insurance business. In all other sectors the number of active working people grew on an annual level, mostly in hospitality and construction, with above-average growth also in information and communication activities, health and social care and manufacturing.
The drop in the number of newly unemployed persons is reflected in a worse unemployment structure. The Employment Service is reporting increasing numbers of those that are hard to employ, who are at the same time long-term unemployed. A comparison between the unemployment figures of March this year and last year shows that over the year the category of long-term unemployed persons rose by 5.2 percentage points to 56.0%. An increase was also seen in the share of older unemployed persons, i.e. those aged between 40 and 49, by 0.2 percentage points to 21.1%, and those aged over 50 by 2.9 percentage points to 39.6%. By level of education, there was an increase in the share of unemployed persons with primary education (to 31.8%), and those with tertiary education (to 16.7%), while unemployed persons with vocational and secondary professional education and with general education account for smaller shares than in March last year.
In February 2022, the national registered unemployment rate was 6.6%, which was 2.4 percentage points down on the February 2021 figure. The Gorenjska (4.2%) and Goriška (4.5%) regions had the lowest registered unemployment rates. These were followed by Primorsko-Notranjska (4.7%), Central Slovenia (6.2%), South-East Slovenia (6.5%) and the Koroška region (6.6%). The following regions had unemployment rates above the national average: Obalno-Kraška (6.8%), Savinjska (7.1%), Zasavska (7.8%), Podravska (7.9%), Posavska (8.2%) and Pomurska (9.3%).
According to internationally comparable figures from the Active and Inactive Population survey conducted by the Statistical Office, Slovenia’s survey unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 4.5%. The activity rate of the population was 59.0% and the employment rate was 56.3%. In relation to the corresponding quarter of 2020, the employment rate and activity rate increased, the former by 1.1 and the latter by 0.9 percentage points, while the unemployment rate fell by 0.6 percentage points.
With the increase in economic activity, there was a major expansion in employment opportunities. There is major demand from employers, but a shortfall in appropriately qualified HR, especially in manufacturing, construction, health and social care, IT, transport, warehousing and hospitality.
Demand will be the greatest for the following (unmet labour demand):
- 2142 Civil engineers
- 2144 Mechanical engineers and related workers
- 2151 Electrical engineers
- 2211 Generalist medical practitioners
- 2212 Specialist medical practitioners
- 2221 Nursing professionals
- 2264 Physiotherapists
- 2266 Audiologists and speech therapists
- 2519 Software and applications developers and analysts
- 3115 Mechanical engineering technicians
- 3221 Nursing associate professionals
- 4412 Mail carriers and sorting clerks
- 5120 Cooks
- 5131 Waiters
- 5321 Carers or nurses employed in health services
- 5322 Health and social care and home care professions
- 5412 Police officers
- 7112 Bricklayers and related workers
- 7114 Concrete placers, concrete finishers and related workers
- 7115 Carpenters and joiners
- 7121 Roofers
- 7123 Dry construction service providers, plasterers and related workers
- 7126 Plumbers and pipe fitters
- 7127 Air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics
- 7212 Welders and flamecutters
- 7214 Structural-metal preparers and erectors
- 7222 Toolmakers and related workers
- 7223 Metalworking machine tool setters and operators
- 7233 Agricultural and industrial machinery mechanics and repairers
- 7411 Building and related electricians
- 7511 Butchers, fishmongers and related food preparers
- 8332 Heavy truck and lorry drivers
- 9313 Unskilled workers in high constructions
Persons with only a primary school education make up the bulk of the unemployed. These are often persons without adequate work experience or skills, or who face a variety of other obstacles to employment. It is also harder to employ persons with certain for the most part social science qualifications, where there are more job seekers than positions, or this involves non-typical forms of employment. Our assessment is that in the coming period greater difficulties finding employment will be experienced by the following (labour surpluses):
- 2161 Architects
- 2166 Graphic and multimedia designers
- 2431 Sales, advertising and marketing professionals
- 2632 Sociologists, anthropologists and related professionals
- 2633 Philosophers, historians and political scientists
- 2642 Journalists
- 2643 Translators, interpreters and other linguists
- 2652 Musicians, singers, composers
- 3343 Administrative and executive secretaries
- 3431 Photographers
- 3432 Design, decorations, arrangement professionals and similar
- 3521 Broadcasting and audiovisual technicians
- 4120 Secretaries (general)
- 4221 Clerks in tourism and travel agencies
- 4226 Receptionists (except hotel receptionists)
- 4311 Accounting and bookkeeping clerks
- 7422 Information and communications technology installers and servicers