Can Belarusian employees compete with foreign specialists? “”

Minsk, Belarus – In Belarus, attempts are being made to fine-tune the inflow of foreign workers by focusing on attracting highly-skilled workers. In particular, the Council of Ministers Decree number 406 of 23 May 2016 amended the procedure for the issuance and renewal of special permits for the right to engage in employment in respect of highly-qualified foreign nationals.

From now, the certificates and documents issued to highly-qualified employees will be valid for two years instead of the standard one year. According to the new law on external labour migration, a “highly skilled worker” is a foreigner with a high level of professional knowledge and skills, supported by educational certificates and at least five years of applicable work experience. In addition, the highly skilled worker’s monthly salary set out in the employment contract must exceed 15 times the monthly minimum salary in Belarus.

Belarus has faced a significant increase in incoming migrant workers over the last two years, due to the economic crisis and the political situation in Ukraine. However, the majority of the newcomers are not highly-skilled workers. This situation did not present any problems when Belarus had a labour shortage, but the situation has changed drastically. Many Belarusians are unemployed. According to the CIS Statistics Committee, official unemployment in Belarus grew faster than in any other CIS country, while Belarusian unemployment benefits are the lowest in the region.

Against this background, there is also the question of how best to attract skilled foreign labour into the country. While low salaries in Belarus may act as a deterrent to unqualified migrant workers, there are areas in which foreign experts are essential, and this is true for both private businesses and multinational companies operating in Belarus.

According to data from the international Executive Search firm Pedersen & Partners, about 5,000 foreign managers are currently working in Belarus. Lola Trapsh, Head of Pedersen & Partners in Belarus, believes that Belarusian businesses will easily be able to cope with the qualification requirements for foreign managers and other professionals. In many ways, the requirements are determined by the level of the company, because established multinationals have very different needs from start-ups. However, Lola Trapsh believes that the involvement of foreign experts is indispensable.

“For example, five well-known fast food franchises became established in Belarus in an 18-month period. This is a very specialised area of management, and each business has its own internal training that lasts up to six months. In Belarus, where can you find top managers in this field with five or more years of experience?”

Foreign experts are also sought after by retail chains and high-tech businesses. “If you are bringing over a foreign manager, it is important to make the right choice, and specify the period of time that he or she will work in Belarus. After some time, the foreign experts will have shared their experiences and established critical processes, becoming less critical but no less expensive," comments Lola Trapsh. 

She continues, "On average, a foreign manager works here for two years—during which there is time to prepare people for handover. It is important that the work of the foreign manager is structured so that the company does not become dependent on one person, and is able to develop the necessary competences of other employees.”

Lola Trapsh considers that it is not always necessary to invite foreign managers, and that cross-cultural conflicts are inevitable due to different understandings of motivation and guidance. “There's no reason to call in a specialist in order to make the business great. This is most likely a deceptive purpose. However, an invitation to a specialist in areas where local professionals simply don’t exist can be quite a coup. In this case, the foreign specialists do not compete with Belarusian specialists," she adds.

Finally, Lola Trapsh notes that many top managers are now discovering Belarus as an attractive country: “I hear from high-level managers that they see Belarus as a European country, with quite a European lifestyle. It is interesting that some people first came here as managers, and then opened their own businesses. Attracting highly-qualified professionals, the exchange of information—it is an opportunity for developing businesses and our country’s economy.”

Pedersen & Partners is one of the fastest-growing, fully integrated Executive Search firms worldwide; it is 100% owned by its partners who all work full-time to serve its clients. The firm celebrated its 15th anniversary in January 2016, and to mark this occasion, it has created a timeline web page, featuring key milestones for the firm’s development and has released an anniversary video.

Lola Trapsh is the Country Manager for Belarus at Pedersen & Partners. Before joining the firm in 2010, Ms. Trapsh built a strong career working on both the HR Management and Executive Search functions in various senior level positions. Prior to joining the firm, she was the Director of another Executive Search firm in Belarus.

Pedersen & Partners is a leading international Executive Search firm. We operate 56 wholly owned offices in 52 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia & the Americas. Our values Trust, Relationship and Professionalism apply to our interaction with clients as well as executives. More information about Pedersen & Partners is available at

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