Due to insufficient wages Latvian State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) predicts an even bigger shortage of employees, the service warns.
In 2017, the wage paid in VUGD was equal to the average in the national economy. Vacant jobs accounted for approximately 3%. However, wages have since fallen by more than 30% behind the average wage in the country. The number of vacant jobs now exceeds 12%.
“Unfortunately, this difference continues growing very rapidly. We expect an even larger increase of vacant jobs in the future following the news about the increase of wages by EUR 500 in the National Armed Forces, where wages are already exceed those of fire fighters by more than half,” explained deputy chief of VUGD Intars Zitans.
Currently VUGD and its Fire Safety and Civil Defense College (UCAK) have 3,253 posts, of which 2,855 are taken and 398 are vacant.
45 of the vacant jobs are cadet posts. Some of them will be filled in September. The biggest number of vacant jobs is for fire fighter rescuer (driver) and fire fighter rescuer in Riga and Vidzeme. The number of dispatch workers in Riga region’s call centre is also high. The service already suffers a tangible shortage of managing specialists.
Enrolment for UCAK studies will continue this week. Several applications were received last week, but nothing that can be considered mass enrolment, said Zitans.
VUGD explained that upon entering service, people first worked as assistant firefighter rescuer. Their wage is EUR 650 before taxes. They have to work in this post for several months, while they are undergoing training. Once it is done, the option to work as firefighter rescuer opens up. The wage also increases to about EUR 896 before taxes.
Fire fighters are provided social guarantees, including compensation of medical costs, increase of vacation days after every five years, retirement support worth three wages after every five years of service and the option of early retirement.
Wages are higher in managing posts. Wages increase for employees that study in college and aim for higher posts. Free education and professional education options are provided, as well as preservation wage pay for the duration of studies, Zitans said. (BNN/Business World Magazine)