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International House Klaipėda (IHK) opens its doors in Klaipėda

International House Klaipėda (IHK) opens its doors in Klaipėda

On June 1st, a new service centre called “International House Klaipėda” (IHK) opened its doors in Klaipėda. The main objective of the centre is to facilitate a smooth relocation of foreigners to the port city, providing assistance in starting a new phase of life, career, or business.

The centre, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Economy and Innovation, Klaipėda City Municipality, and the investment and business development agency Klaipėda ID, will be located in the Customer Service Department of Klaipėda City Municipality. It will have the capacity to serve more than 2,000 people annually in English and Russian.

According to Kristina Postornak, Acting Director General of Klaipėda ID and Head of International House Klaipėda, such a centre is very much needed in Klaipėda to increase the city’s competitiveness by attracting talent from other countries and assisting local businesses in the recruitment process of foreign professionals.

The service centre will offer public services and advice, general information on moving to the port city, career guidance, employment and recruitment advice, work experience and recruitment projects for foreign students, free Lithuanian language lessons, and assistance with the integration of life partners in the new city.

The number of foreigners in Klaipėda is growing

According to the data from the Centre of Registers, the number of foreigners arriving in Klaipėda has nearly tripled in the last decade. In 2013, just over 400 foreigners arrived in Klaipėda, and by 2022, the number exceeded 12,000. This year alone, more than 1,300 foreigners have already relocated to the port city.

Postornak attributes last year’s increase in arrivals to the war in Ukraine. However, even without people fleeing the tragedy, the number of foreigners living in Klaipėda has been growing steadily each year.

“We have observed that foreign nationals face certain challenges when living and working here, including language barriers and difficulties in understanding the recruitment and residence permit processes. International House Klaipėda will assist them in overcoming these challenges. We plan to continuosly update the centre’s activities based on the feedback from foreigners residing in Klaipėda as we hear about their most pressing issues,” says the head of the centre.

Postornak further notes that each year, an increasing number of foreigners arrive in the city from abroad to pursue their studies. “According to Klaipėda ID, 1,245 students from 75 countries are studying in Klaipėda this year. However, according to MOSTA data, only 7% of students choose to stay in Lithuania after completing their studies, which represents a significant loss for the country’s economy, as these students leaving the country posses valuable skills. Additionally, a significant number of foreign students graduating in Klaipėda opt to work in Vilnius.

Companies face staff shortages

“A survey commissioned by Klaipėda ID among local companies has revealed that businesses are facing a serious challenge in attracting employees. The manufacturing sector alone will require approximately 3,000 new employees in the next two years, including roughly 1,800 high- and low-skilled professionals. Furthermore, logistics and service companies will need at least 1,200 additional workers.

Postornak emphasizes that a more in-depth analysis has shown that the city cannot produce the required number of specialists on its own. Therefore, consistent efforts are needed to attract individuals not only from other Lithuanian cities but also from other countries.

“Although there is a shortage of employees, the survey conducted by Klaipėda ID revealed that companies from Klaipėda are still hesitant to hire foreign specialists. Only 35% of companies in the port city are open to hiring English-speaking professionals. Others acknowledge that they do not employ foreign nationals primarily due to the language barrier. The Service Centre will not only assist newcomers but also provide consultations to businesses on the integration of foreigners and organize various educational programmes,” says the Head of International House Klaipėda noting the benefits for employers in the port city.

Businesses willing to employ foreign professionals are actively seeking highly qualified specialists among the foreign talent pool. This is driven by companies’ aspirations to grow and adopt best practices from other countries, resulting in the creation of higher value-added services and production.

A year and a half ago, Lithuania established its first service centre of this kind—International House Vilnius—which has already assisted over 22,000 foreign nationals from the USA, the United Kingdom, Poland, India, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Ukraine, and other countries.

Prepared on the basis of Klaipėda ID report