Migrant workers in Cluj job market

Carried out in the context of the new Coronavirus crisis, this exploratory study mapped the characteristics of the labour market in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca and its responsiveness to non-EU migrants and refugees’ skills.

Cluj has an economic environment shaped by higher-than-average income for a wide range of professional sectors (notably IT, but also banking, consultancy, medical and pharma, education, administration). The high salaries in such professional sectors put pressure on other economic areas, which traditionally have below-the-average payments (eg. hospitality, cleaning). By 2019, the recruitment pool for workers in the Cluj Metropolitan Area appeared insufficient and the efforts of expanding the candidate reach were already exhausted. 

The recruitment of workers from third countries has long been on the agendas of various business associations, but is rather recent and still limited in Cluj. The COVID-19 crisis occurred at a moment when employers from various fields (automotive, hospitality, landscaping and constructions) were exploring this possibility. Interviewees reported an effect of ‘contagion’, with recruiters and business owners interested to learn from the experience of those who employed migrants. There are not many agencies specialized in the recruitment of third country nationals in Cluj. However, in 2018-2019, such firms from Romania or from abroad became increasingly proactive in reaching the Cluj market.

The study is based on extensive desk research as well as on 38 interviews with migrants and employees’ representatives: managers and recruiters, representatives of foreign business associations and clubs, representatives of local authorities, labour market experts, and NGO staff. In order to map the diversity of employment areas, this study is focused on four economic areas that reflect the specificity of the local economy: IT, the services to business sector, hospitality and constructions.

This research was conducted as part of the project “ADMin4ALL – Supporting Social Inclusion of Vulnerable Migrants in Europe”. The project, which is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and funded by the European Commission, aims to enhance the capacity of local governments to develop sustainable strategies and inclusive services for the successful social and economic integration of migrants.