Labour Market in CEE-17

In the following chapter Randstad together with it's partner companies Ancor and Staffpoint, have provided a country-by-country overview of various labour market conditions and trends across the CEE-17 region. The description is supported by data illustrating the salary levels within the production and logistics sectors for both blue and white collar workers.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates reported by Eurostat in July 2020 across CEE were the lowest in the Czech Republic at 2%, followed by Poland at 3.2%. Rates of below 5% were also reported in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia. At the same time, salaries have increased, in some years, reaching double digit growth. Candidates have started to become aware of their value on the scarce labor market and have become more selective in terms of their future employers. With numerous possibilities available, even though the salary remains to be the main selection criteria, other factors have started to play an important role. These include the company’s reputation on the market, good working conditions and atmosphere, career progression opportunities and work-life balance.

Skilled, blue-collar candidates remain the biggest challenge in terms of recruitment for the production and logistics industries. After the fall of the vocational school system in most of the countries, the availability of skilled employees is slowly growing thanks to the efforts of employers, who train their personnel, on a regular basis to ensure production continuity. There is also a relentless need for engineering and R&D roles.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had and continues to have an impact on labour markets. Production stoppages have forced companies to reorganize their workforces. Although a reduction of part of the personnel might seem like the quickest solution to cut costs, most of the companies were hesitant to do so, having in mind the effort and funds invested in building up their teams. Instead, reductions in salaries and hours worked, asking employees to use up their outstanding holidays and freezing bonus systems were introduced. Many companies stopped using contingent workforce and utilizing the advantage of flexibility in such contracts. As a result, and rather surprisingly for many, the pool of available candidates didn’t increase as much as one would expect and unemployment rates went up but remained relatively steady. Candidates coming from different industries also hit hard by the pandemic, like the HoReCa sector, were not interested in taking jobs in production or logistics. There were also other industries that had growing needs for personnel during that time, like pharmaceutics, medical equipment and e-commerce.

Currently, as the situation is slowly improving, we are again observing limited availability of the most desired positions on the market. However, companies are rather rebuilding their workforce than increasing headcount, still having in mind the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19. As a result, we predict that the temporary workforce will become an even more popular solution on the market. The pandemic also made further changes to the way employees look at their future employers. In the near future, we expect that job security and a company’s financial stability will close the gap to the salary and benefits in the job selection criteria.

Key contacts

Paweł Kopeć
Head of Enterprise Solutions Center | Randstad Polska
Raluca Dumitrescu
Business Development Manager | Randstad Romania


Payments in Poland

PRODUCTION | Monthly gross salary in EUR
unskilled production operator670750850
skilled production operator730820940
team leader/foreman1,0201,2001,400
plant manager2,8003,9505,100
production manager2,3003,1003,950
production/process engineer1,8502,4003,000
LOGISTIC | Monthly gross salary in EUR
warehouse worker690770860
forklift operator760850950
team leader/foreman1,0201,2001,400
logistics specialist1,4001,7002,000
warehouse manager1,6002,2002,800
distribution center manager 2,1002,9003,650


Poland is the eighth largest economy in the European Union (6th in terms of population) and one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. With 38 million inhabitants it’s the second largest labour market in the CEE region (not including Russia), just after Ukraine. Next in line, Romania, is almost twice smaller.

Thanks to this, Poland’s labour market is characterized as very stable and resistant to sudden changes. A large pool of working-age population and stable inflow of new candidates starting their careers gives assurance to companies that the workforce can be found. However, it requires more effort and investment to attract candidates. Due to a very low unemployment rate (third lowest in the EU) sourcing must be done from neighboring companies and competition. The remuneration of employees has also been increasing over the last couple of years with the average change in salary being recorded at 6-8% annually. The increase in employment costs in the logistics and production sectors is closely related to the increase of the minimum wage. The majority of employees are blue-collar workers, whose salaries are close to the statutory minimum. In 2019, the minimum wage was increased by 7.1% and by a significant 15.6% in in 2020 to PLN 2,600 gross (ca. EUR 590).

The most sought after profiles for production and logistics have remained the same for quite a few years, mainly because these two industries are often looking for similar qualifications and roles. Forklift drivers and low skilled employees that can be hired as production operators/warehouse workers, or pickers, are always in high demand.

The availability of the workforce is closely correlated to the unemployment rate and located mostly in the eastern part of Poland. Regions like Podlaskie, Podkarpackie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Lubuskie, Świętokrzyskie and Kujawsko-Pomorskie are still good places to find candidates, especially blue-collar workers. For highly qualified white-collar employees, companies should look to large agglomerations with numerous universities and technical schools such as Warsaw, Wroclaw, Katowice, Krakow, Poznan, and Tricity.

As in most markets, COVID-19 has made an impact on the labour market dynamics. Companies put their recruitment activities on hold, resulting in a 30-40% drop in jobs advertised on popular job portals between March and April 2020. In the same period, there were 26% less job offers reported to Labour Offices across Poland. Yet, half of the offers were targeted towards blue-collar workers, confirming that the larger decrease was noted in demand for white-collar employees. The production industry, especially automotive, introduced production stoppages, which resulted in the release of large groups of blue-collar workers, but mainly those employed on a temporary basis.

As for the next few months, it’s very difficult to predict how the market will behave, especially when a new wave of COVID-19 is expected in the autumn. According to research conducted by Randstad, 56% of companies predict they will be back to normal within a maximum period of 6 months. Most of the companies from the production and logistics industry are already operational and re-started their hiring activities. There could be an increased interest in the temporary workforce solutions due to the higher flexibility it brings, which will allow companies to quickly change their employment levels as required.