Growing career opportunities attract employees from abroad to Kaunas
According to preliminary data of the Department of Statistics, 2019 was a record year for Lithuania in terms of immigration. In total, last year 8 thousand more people immigrated rather than emigrated from the country. This nice tendency is also evident in the Kaunas region – compared to 2018, the number of newcomers has increased by almost 40 percent.
According to Eglė Adašiūnaitė, the head of the Work in Lithuania program, more and more specialists living abroad are choosing Lithuania for their careers, without leaving Kaunas behind.
“In 2019 alone, investment projects, attracted by the Foreign Direct Investment and Business Development agency Invest Lithuania, are planning to create as many as 4,600 new jobs, 544 of which will be in Kaunas. Long term investments will contribute total of 135.8 million Euro , more than a half of which – 76,5 million Euro will be in Kaunas. Thus, variety of career opportunities are increasing in Lithuania.”
According to E. Adašiūnaitė, Work in Lithuania program partners in Kaunas region (for instance, Continental Automotive Lithuania, Centric IT Solutions Lithuania, Festo Lithuania and others) are constantly expanding their international teams, which significantly contributes to the positive statistics of the new arrivals to Lithuania.
Continental Automotive Lithuania, based in Kaunas FEZ, is a very international workplace. The factory currently employs over 200 people, about a fifth of whom are foreign nationals from 10 countries: the US, Germany, Mexico, Philippines, Turkey, China, India, Russia, Egypt, Romania. Of course, most of them are from other branches of Continental who have come to share their experience at the newly established factory in Kaunas, working in various positions – from central functions (finance, IT, personnel, etc.) to production.
“Most of the foreign recruits are Continental employees from other locations who come here to share their experience. These are people who want bigger challenges or are interested in this particular Continental project in Kaunas: after all, it is a rare opportunity to contribute to the project from the very first moments when we design all systems and structures from the start. Therefore, it is safe to say that colleagues from all over the world are attracted to Kaunas by invaluable growth opportunity and exceptional experience,” Shayan Ali, the Head of the factory, says.
Most of the foreigners working at Kaunas Continental mention the attractive quality-of-life and price ratio as well as comfort: short distances, spacious and affordable housing, good quality public sector services.
Currently, the company employs about 10 people who have returned to Lithuania from abroad. Continental Automotive Lithuania has been successful in attracting Lithuanian specialists from companies such as Intel, Jaguar Land Rover or Ford to return to Kaunas.
“We are delighted that Lithuanians, who come back to Lithuania for work, choose us as an employer that provides good opportunities – our arrival to Kaunas encouraged them to return and continue their careers here. We hope that there will be more of them in the future,” Head of the factory says reminding us that in the next couple of years, the company intends to increase the number of employees five times – up to 1,000 people.
Centric IT Solutions Lithuania, a Dutch company operating in the field of IT technology, currently employs eight foreign workers who have come to Kaunas from Sweden and Norway. Several more employees joined Centric after returning to Lithuania from emigration – Norway and Germany.
Swedes and Norwegians working in the Customer Service Center in Kaunas communicate with their customers in their mother tongue on a daily basis. According to them, deciding to come to work in Kaunas was not difficult: some were attracted by the opportunity to live in a completely different culture, others by the chance to join a promising international Centric team that has branches in 9 European countries.
Emil Hustvedt, who has come to Lithuania for a year from Norway, says that he had never heard of the country or Kaunas before coming,
“Actually, I didn’t even know what language you spoke. Lithuanian? Is there such a language? Oh, how cool!” Emil laughs. So, his first acquaintance with a future place of work and residence started with browsing Google Street View. And remembering the first months in Kaunas, he first mentions people who turned out to be much more pleasant than expected, who didn’t refuse to translate for him and offered their help in general.
Emil is delighted with his current job in Kaunas because of internationalism and opportunities for improvement, “The company makes sure we improve not only as professionals but also as personalities. The work I do, though similar to the one I had in the Norwegian public sector, is different now – I work with private clients, with different support systems. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that centric has opened up a lot of new experiences for me, and my commitment to living and working in Lithuania will give me more flexibility and courage to make similar decisions in the future – whether to stay in Lithuania for longer than the agreed year or perhaps move to work to other countries that have Centric units,” Emil says.
A global supplier for pneumatic and electronic technology production and process automation, Festo Lithuania, which has been operating in Kaunas for several decades, not only works closely with colleagues in other countries but also welcomes staff from abroad, emphasizing its openness to all.
Company representatives say they do not have any prejudices about the nationality of the employee when recruiting. First of all, they take into consideration the attitude of the future employee (to cooperation, development, learning, colleagues, difficult situations, etc.) and then their knowledge and skills. There are also cases where the type of the position dictates what kind of employee to look for. For example, if the position requires excellent knowledge of a language that is not popular in Lithuania, the company looks for candidates who would be native speakers.
When asking foreign colleagues about why they decided to stay and work in Lithuania, the most frequently mentioned reason is the meeting of a life partner here, in other words, immigration for love. The other part – and it continues to grow together with the noticeably increasing foreign investments in the city – consists of professionals, who come to Lithuania with their families, in need of work.
Currently, the company employs 7 foreign nationals from Poland, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Argentina. One of them, Italian Eugenio Nicola Busciala has been living in Kaunas for almost two years, working as a technical support specialist in his native Italian. After getting to know Lithuania through Erasmus program in Vilnius during his studies, Eugenio noticed the Festo ad that suited his skills and chose to work in Kaunas.
“The settling in did not cause any major problems: until then I had lived in Lithuania for a year, so I was able to get acquainted with the local culture, food, and customs. Extremely friendly and caring colleagues helped – and continue to help – to adapt to the new city and job environment. Things also seem more optimistic because of the constantly improving city atmosphere and infrastructure with an increasing number of parks to walk in, museums, restaurants; in addition, I keep discovering new events. I also appreciate the convenience of public transport, the tranquility, and the comfort of the city. What would I recommend to my friends visiting Kaunas? Be sure to take a walk from Soboras to the Old Town, taste Lithuanian food and in the summer, go see the Kaunas lagoon.”