Omega-3 supplements can prevent childhood asthma


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University of Waterloo
Taking certain omega-3 fatty acid supplements during pregnancy can reduce the risk of childhood asthma by almost one third, according to a new study.

Professor Ken Stark taking a sample of blood in Waterloo’s Laboratory of Nutritional and Nutraceutical Research to determine the levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Credit: Light Imaging

Taking certain omega-3 fatty acid supplements during pregnancy can reduce the risk of childhood asthma by almost one third, according to a new study from the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC) and the University of Waterloo.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that women who were prescribed 2.4 grams of long-chain omega-3 supplements during the third trimester of pregnancy reduced their children’s risk of asthma by 31 per cent. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are found in cold water fish, and key to regulating human immune response.

“We’ve long suspected there was a link between the anti-inflammatory properties of long-chain omega-3 fats, the low intakes of omega-3 in Western diets and the rising rates of childhood asthma,” said Professor Hans Bisgaard of COPSAC at the Copenhagen University Hospital. “This study proves that they are definitively and significantly related.”

The study used rapid analytical techniques developed and performed at the University of Waterloo to measure levels of EPA and DHA in pregnant women’s blood. The University of Waterloo is one of a few laboratories in the world equipped to run such tests.

“Measuring the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in blood provides an accurate and precise assessment of nutrient status,” said Professor Ken Stark, Canada Research Chair in Nutritional Lipidomics and professor in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at Waterloo, who led the testing. “Our labs are uniquely equipped to measure fatty acids quickly, extremely precisely, and in a cost-efficient manner.”

The testing also revealed that women with low blood levels of EPA and DHA at the beginning of the study benefitted the most from the supplements. For these women, it reduced their children’s relative risk of developing asthma by 54 per cent.

“The proportion of women with low EPA and DHA in their blood is even higher in Canada and the United States as compared with Denmark. So we would expect an even greater reduction in risk among North American populations,” said Professor Stark. “Identifying these women and providing them with supplements should be considered a front-line defense to reduce and prevent childhood asthma.”

Researchers analyzed blood samples of 695 Danish women at 24 weeks’ gestation and one week after delivery. They then monitored the health status of each participating child for five years, which is the age asthma symptoms can be clinically established.

“Asthma and wheezing disorders have more than doubled in Western countries in recent decades,” said Professor Bisgaard. “We now have a preventative measure to help bring those numbers down.”

Currently, one out of five young children suffer from asthma or a related disorder before school age.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Waterloo. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Hans Bisgaard, Jakob Stokholm, Bo L. Chawes, Nadja H. Vissing, Elin Bjarnadóttir, Ann-Marie M. Schoos, Helene M. Wolsk, Tine M. Pedersen, Rebecca K. Vinding, Sunna Thorsteinsdóttir, Nilofar V. Følsgaard, Nadia R. Fink, Jonathan Thorsen, Anders G. Pedersen, Johannes Waage, Morten A. Rasmussen, Ken D. Stark, Sjurdur F. Olsen, Klaus Bønnelykke. Fish Oil–Derived Fatty Acids in Pregnancy and Wheeze and Asthma in Offspring. New England Journal of Medicine, 2016; 375 (26): 2530 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1503734

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Culture not a factor in management styles globally


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Management type is determined more by circumstances than individual or cultural differences

University of Missouri-Columbia
One theory argues that 50 percent of managers’ differences in their reactions to various situations are explained by cultural differences. Now, a new study has determined that culture plays little or no part in leaders’ management of their employees. This finding could impact how managers are trained and evaluated globally.

Geert Hofstede’s “Culture’s Consequences” is one of the most influential management books of the 20th century. With well over 80,000 citations, Hofstede argues that 50 percent of managers’ differences in their reactions to various situations are explained by cultural differences. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has determined that culture plays little or no part in leaders’ management of their employees; this finding could impact how managers are trained and evaluated globally.

“We all want a higher quality of life, a desirable workplace environment and meaningful work — no matter our home country,” said Arthur Jago, professor of management in the Robert J. Trulaske College of Business at MU. “In management theory, we focus more on leaders’ differences rather than their similarities. By analyzing the data in a new way, I found that managers across country borders and across cultures are more alike than different.”

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jago surveyed more than 6,500 managers in 14 countries. All managers were participating in management development seminars around the world. Leaders were given 30 case studies; their reactions to each scenario were recorded.

The case studies ranged from relatively trivial decisions to more complex, unstructured judgments. Because each case was different, the researchers were able to measure behavioral intent, or the likelihood that a manager would engage in a given behavior. Jago recently reevaluated this data in a more comprehensive manner and found that, more often than not, managers from different countries responded to the scenarios in the same way.

“We have all worked for managers that are more autocratic or more participative,” Jago said. “Newer research is discovering that the differences we see in these types of managers are more determined by the circumstances at hand than individual or cultural differences. Leaders, it seems, vary their responses to certain situations. Up until now, the study of these various scenarios focused on cultural differences and not necessarily on our ‘sameness.’ This interpretation not only exists in the U.S. but also in other countries where management styles are studied.”

Jago suggests that patriotism and love of country may contribute to skewed interpretation of data and that cultural differences should not be exaggerated, inflated or overemphasized as a result. He says cultural differences — whether good, bad or neutral — may be less important than most scholars believe.

The study, “A contrarian view: culture and participative management,” was accepted for publication in the European Management Journal.

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Materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Arthur G. Jago. A contrarian view: Culture and participative management. European Management Journal, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.emj.2016.10.001

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University of Missouri-Columbia. “Culture not a factor in management styles globally: Management type is determined more by circumstances than individual or cultural differences.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2016. <>.

Compensation criteria in the HR Department – Salary Survey


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How much does an HR employee earn? What about a recruiter? And how can the HR Department negotiate for higher salaries?

When one company launched its new HR development program for executives, the Managing Director took the HR Director aside and asked “And who will take care of you?” Many HR managers have difficulties in balancing conflicting interests at work: On one hand, they represent the company’s interests vis-a-vis the employees, and must thus implement unpleasant measures, such as layoffs or wage cuts. However, they are employees themselves, and thus are directly affected by the company’s personnel policies.

The question of how HR managers negotiate their salaries sounds as paradoxical as the question of who cuts the barber’s hair. HR professionals must constantly tell the employees that payroll costs must be kept strictly under control, but on the other hand, HR managers would also like to benefit from higher salaries.

HR employees are usually not the company’s best earners, and tend to bring home lower salaries than their colleagues in sales, engineering and finance.

A young graduate in the HR department earns an average of 31,300 Euros gross per year. Over the next decade of working life, this will increase to an average of 54,800 Euros. HR Managers in smaller companies earn an average of 78,400 Euros gross per year. However, the Head of HR in a large corporation will earn a salary well in excess of 100,000 Euros – an average remuneration of 154,700 Euros, including bonuses.

For fresh graduates starting a career in recruitment, the average salary is 32,100 Euro gross per year, rising to 48,900 Euros after the first five to ten years of professional experience. Recruiters with more than ten years of professional experience can expect to earn an average salary of around 57,000 Euros.

On average, HR developers earn a gross income of 31,300 Euros per year, rising to 48, 100 Euros after five to ten years of professional experience. Experienced HR developers with more than ten years of professional practice earn an average income of 55,800 Euros per year, with Heads of HR Development earning an average of 71,300 Euros per year including bonuses. Finally, experienced payroll managers typically earn more than 60,000 Euros gross per year.

The basic entry requirement for a career in HR is a college degree, ideally with a focus on HR. Other desirable attributes include training in HR or organisational development, coaching or consulting experience, and practical knowledge in the conception, monitoring and implementation of change management processes.

How HR managers can increase their salary.

Many HR managers have to endure a reputation within the company as a pure cost factor. Unlike, say, the sales department, the HR department is not seen as contributing to the company’s profits, but only incurring additional costs, which must be kept as low as possible during an on-going economic crisis. HR managers can nevertheless make several arguments for higher remuneration.

1. Projects

Which projects have performed exceptionally well, and how have they earned additional revenue or profit for the company?

These soft factors are not highly significant for most companies; the key question for HR managers is how they can make their performance visible and support it with concrete figures.

2. Responsibility

An increased area of responsibility is a strong argument for a higher salary. If, for example, an HR manager is responsible for Austria and also Eastern Europe, their salary should be raised accordingly.

In preparation for a salary discussion, it is therefore important to check your own job profile in order to see which additional areas of responsibility have been added, and to present these points as arguments justifying a higher salary

3. Company success

In a company, three areas must work smoothly and “invisibly” to allow overall value to be maximised: HR, Finance and IT. In many companies, a distinction between Front Office and Back Office is customary, and the same is true for sales and support functions. Recently, some corporations have started to assert that areas such as HR, Finance or IT do not merely support sales, but rather enable sales. With this attitude, the HR manager can also argue: “Because of my work, I have made it possible for us to achieve our corporate goals. We have increased our profit by 10% through measures such as sales training. Therefore, I suggest a salary adjustment of 10%.”

4. Knowledge is power

A company’s HR manager has the great advantage of knowing what his colleagues earn, putting him in a stronger bargaining position. In addition, HR managers have direct access to salary surveys and recruitment consultants, who share their knowledge about remuneration questions and the market rates for different positions, in order to maintain business relationships with clients.

5. Salary negotiation failed?

Even the most capable HR manager with the strongest arguments will not always succeed in negotiating a payrise. No matter how much you enjoy doing your job, your salary is important because it is an expression of your employer’s appreciation. What costs nothing is worth nothing.

If the management does not see any value in the HR manager as part of the workforce, it is time for the HR manager to ask herself if she sees any value in staying with the company.


The 3 building blocks of your career success


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Vienna, Austria – Globalisation and economic crises pose major challenges to employees. Workers are constantly at risk of losing the company’s favour, their jobs and connections. Employees must carefully consider their attitudes towards work, and should learn these three important tips from successful managers and employers.

Focus on your own personal performance

Many employees want a good life, and are willing to work for it. They focus primarily on a secure income, and are willing to make many compromises for this. Employers take note of this attitude, and respond accordingly.

When employees merely offer up their labour for money, they are almost begging to be overwhelmed with problems. On the other hand, employers offer solutions and make these solutions the focus of their professional life – no wonder they are more motivated! Employees should find and communicate the contribution that they want to make to their employers. Entrepreneurial thinking and the shared experience of success will have a much greater effect on your satisfaction and motivation than the boss’s well-intentioned financial incentive.

Get a support network

One common factor of all successful professionals is their internal and external support network. All good employers know that they are nothing without their employees. If you want to get the best out of your professional life as an employee, you should actively find people in and outside your company who will mentor, nurture and support you on your way to professional success. Maintaining your own network, a matter of course for entrepreneurs and managers, should also become a habit for employees.

Make decisions and take responsibility

If employers do not take decisions, the business will die. They are responsible for the performance that they offer on the market, and at what price. Moreover, in many cases, if employees do not take decisions, the business does not grow. A good boss will encourage and hire employees who have better ideas than he does—who will take risks, make decisions, accept power and increase their influence in the event of success. The best decisions are taken in the best interests of the company, customers, community, and the employees themselves.

Conclusion: Think and act like an employer

Employees can find it easier to reach their professional goals than most self-employed workers. However, many of them abandon their dreams and career goals in favour of a higher salary. But if you take care to think like an employer and a manager, you have taken the first step on the path to success.

Conrad Pramböck is the Head of Compensation Consulting at Pedersen & Partners. Based in Vienna, Austria, he is responsible for consulting companies on all aspects of compensation, including providing companies with up-to-date market information on salary ranges and design of bonus systems across all industries and geographies. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Pramböck held several senior positions in international consultancy firms. He started his career with a German Consultancy firm working in management consulting and later in the Compensation Consulting business unit based in Austria. For the following seven years he worked with one of the top Austrian Executive Search firms as the Head of Compensation Consulting. He was responsible for all international compensation consulting activities and developed and maintained an international compensation database in 40 countries.

Cultural Influences on Management Style


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Different cultures may determine various management styles

You may, or may not, have noticed by now that leadership and management style differs from country to country. There are of course many similarities in the way  business is conducted, still cultural influence can be quite diverse. Therefore, in most cases, local culture plays an important role in management around the world.

For example, management styles valued in the Netherlands may be perceived as weak in Romania, where authoritative leadership prevails. Or, calling subordinates by their first names is seen as a gesture of friendliness in the United States, but will be considered rude or impolite in France or Germany. High level of punctuality of someone from the United States may seem “pushy” for someone from Latin countries. Still, the indifferent response to time by a Latin person can be wrongly interpreted as being lazy or unresponsive. And when it comes to actual planning of activities, in British firms, for example, the planning staff is often reduced when anticipating future events becomes more difficult, but Germans would rather increase their planning activities in such a case.

There are certain role models of managers in each country, mostly determined by the cultural characteristic of a nation. For example, in the United States the most readily available role model for the head of a company is the corporate CEO. In China, it is the head of the family. In France it remains the military general. In Japan, it is the consensus builder. In Germany, it is the coalition builder.

In post-communist countries, there are still some management aspects inherited from the previous era. Among older generation of managers, after-effects are still evident, often resulting in a lack of drive and energy. However, younger generations takes a different approach, driven by western management style, open market economy and global industries.

Globalization of the market, political changes, high level of mobility, and progress of technology, have influenced many changes in management styles in various cultures and nations. Many business leaders today share similar values and leadership styles, as the world becomes one unique market and business arena. Nevertheless, the following manager stereotypes are only to illustrate the pattern of conducting the business that originates from the culture of a certain nation.

Managers in Afghanistan are often rather paternalistic and their interest may extend outside of the workplace into the personal lives of their employees. For Afghanistan managers, the concept of personal strength is very important, and any demonstration of ‘weaknesses’ is considered not good for business.

As for the Chinese management style, it tends towards the directive, with the senior managers providing instructions to their subordinates who pass on the instructions down the line. It is not expected, and would be considered disrespectful, for subordinates to question any of their superiors decision. The Chinese manager is seen as a type of traditional father figure, and often functions autocratically. It is not common for a Chinese manager to compliment or chastise an employee publicly.

Management style in the UAE is rather directive and paternalistic. Good managers in the UAE are those who give clear and direct instructions to their employees. Accordingly, subordinates are expected to carry out the instructions given. Any lack of clear directorial management is considered as poor leadership. Although such a paternalistic approach is very common at this part of the world, it can result in the lack of employees’ initiative.

Ukrainians tend to show great respect for age and status, which is represented by position or wealth. The management style in Ukraine may sometimes seem dictatorial or autocratic. Subordinates are expected to follow established procedures.

In Iraq, which is considered a hierarchical society, managers mostly have a paternalistic attitude to their employees. It is not rare that they show a concern for employees that goes beyond the workplace, such as involvement in their family, health, housing, or some other practical life matters.

In Russia, many businesses preserved a strong hierarchical structure. Russians tend to have a great respect to age, rank, and protocol. In general, Russian managers are often described as dictatorial and autocratic. If an employee publicly challenges a manager’s decision, it could result in the loss of the manager’s dignity and respect.

Economic transition in Slovakia has changed the business culture to certain extent. In businesses that preserved a strong hierarchical structure, managers mostly have an autocratic approach, and subordinates are expected to follow standard procedures. Nevertheless, in more entrepreneurial companies, individual initiative is valued more, and employees are actually expected to choose the best course of action by exploring all the opportunities that are offered, in accomplishing the work goals.

Hungarian management style highly depends on the corporate culture of specific companies. Therefore, the corporate influence to management style prevails over the influence of national culture. Hungarian management style ranges from autocratic to democratic.

Nevertheless, management styles will also highly depend on education, corporate culture, economic development or available technology. The stereotypical management styles as described above may fade in time, as the global economy takes its full swing. The cross culture management style could become the ultimate approach for new professionals, as the world becomes one single business arena.


Latvia: 10 tons of expired confectionery found in warehouse tied to large chain stores


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  • BNS/TBT Staff

RIGA – The Food and Veterinary Service has discovered a large quantity of relabeled food products in a warehouse of the Triom company in Jelgava — nearly 10 tons of various pastries and confectionery past their expiration dates.

The Food and Veterinary Service ascertained that Triom was providing goods to a wide range of retailers, such as the largest chain stores in Latvia — Rimi, Maxima, Mego, and Elvi.

While searching the warehouse, the Food and Veterinary Service inspectors uncovered numerous paint strippers, solvents, and other means for removing original labels, in addition to 26 different seals used for relabeling.

Employees at the warehouse also repackaged products past their expiration date — the original packaging was emptied and the products were repacked in new, bigger containers with new labels.

The Food and Veterinary Service has stated that the new labels were almost indistinguishable from the original ones. The service has begun recalling these products from retail outlets across Latvia.

The Food and Veterinary Service co-operated with the Criminal Police’s Economic Crime unit to investigate the case. Operations of Triom have been stopped, and investigation of the case is ongoing.

Estonian institute publishes analysis of 2009-2015 healthcare costs


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  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonia’s National Institute for Health Development has published a fresh analysis titled “Estonian healthcare costs 2015”, which describes healthcare costs and their changes in 2009-2015.

In 2009-2015 Estonia’s healthcare costs grew in current prices by 397 million euros, including 98 million euros in 2015. Characteristics of the period are the stability of funding and small changes. The average increase in health care costs in 2009-2015 was 6 percent per year or 1.6 percent in fixed prices.

Healthcare costs per person were 1,006 euros in 2015, of which the public sector’s share amounted to 761 euros and households’ share totaled 229 euros. The three biggest expense items of households were dental treatment, prescription medication, and over-the-counter drugs. These constitute two-thirds of people’s healthcare costs. During the 2009-2015 periods, the share of medication and medical products has decreased from 55 percent to 46 percent, while the share of medical services has increased.

Economists: Lithuania’s exports map should not change in 2017


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  • BNS/ TBT Staff

VILNIUS – No major changes are expected on Lithuania’s exports map in 2017, with companies retaining their focus on markets of the European Union and Russia, while Asian markets will only be an issue for individual exporters, economists say.

Gitanas Nauseda, an adviser to SEB bank’s president, says that the exporting companies will continue their attention to keeping their exports volumes in Europe.

“I believe tendencies of exports to the euro area will remain similar next year – moderate growth, although the 2016 exports had declined in the region, which was due to the general decrease in exports prices. As next year should not bring dropping prices, exports to the eurozone and Europe will swell at a slow and moderate pace,” Nauseda told BNS Lithuania.

In his words, 2017 should bring higher exports volumes to the United States and Russia, while Asian markets should not become a priority for exporters, as they are difficult to consolidate standing in. This is why merely a few companies managed to make contacts with China so far.

Swedbank’s senior economist Nerijus Maciulis said a major breakthrough of exports to Russia may be expected only if the mutual sanctions are lifted.

“There is one big uncertainty in connection to Russia. Bigger growth in exports can only be expected in a case of Russia’ s economic recovery and recall of mutual sanctions. Sanctions will hardly be lifted in 2017. This is something to possibly think about in 2018,” Maciulis told BNS.

In his words, remote markets in Asia will not gain importance for Lithuanian exporters, as entering them and consolidating positions there is a difficult task.

Rokas Grajauskas, senior economist for the Baltic states at Danske Bank, told BNS that 2017 exports tendencies should not be subjected to major changes.

SEB bank has forecast Lithuania’s exports to grow 4 percent in 2017, while the forecasts of Swedbank and Danske Bank are 6 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

The central Bank of Lithuania has projected exports to gain 3 percent next year. In January-October of 2016, exports dropped by 2.9 percent to 18.447 billion euros year-on-year.

Eastern mentality clashes with Western management style


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  • By Elizabeth Celms
RIGA – Latvia is officially a European member. And although there are transitional laws in place regulating the free movement of labor, the doors to the West are now open.

But just how frequently these doors will be used, and for what intent is still under question.
Despite rumored fears of a Latvian brain drain to the West, in which Latvia’s most qualified will leave the country in pursuit of higher wages, the latest trends in human resources show that this may not be the case.
It is true that Latvia is the poorest new member of the union. Yet at the same time the country has one of the fastest growing GDPs. As wages increase and large foreign companies continue to show interest in the Baltics, there seems to be growing reason for Latvians to find work within national boarders.
“I think a certain number of candidates might be interested to move West, but overall I wouldn’t say it would be a massive trend,” says Aiga Arste-Avotina, partner for Amrop Hever Baltics, an international headhunting firm. “If we compare the quality of life – wages, of course, are different – candidates with international experience are better off with the possibilities they can use here.”
According to leading human resource firms, the Latvian market is doing especially well these days. Employment rates are up, and within the last year there has been a steady increase in senior management positions among international firms, says Pauls Berzins, country manager of People Management.
Still, finding qualified Latvian business managers to fill these positions is problematic. Berzins estimates that about 90 percent of international firms are run by Latvians as opposed to expatriates. However, sometimes there aren’t enough specialists in the market to fill the required positions.
“The general impression is that there’s a very big demand for quality people, and they’re still in short supply,” Berzins explains.
The problem doesn’t seem to be in the qualifications of Latvian workers – but rather in their mindset. Often there seems to be a clash in understanding between East and West – between Latvian employees and European corporate structure.
“All Western managers say the same: in the Baltics there are very good employees but very bad candidates,” says Petteri Pasanen, director of Baltic operations for People Management. “They can’t carry themselves out in interviews. This is the problem.”
Pasanen has noticed that Latvian managers seeking jobs in Western-run companies are often overconfident to the point of thinking they’re the best in the market. This creates problems in the interviewing and hiring process.
“They come to the interview thinking, ‘I’m the best. If you need me, here I am,'” Pasanen says. “You can only imagine the tension this creates with Western business leaders. So the interviews don’t go too well.”
When People Management’s headhunters followed candidates into the interviews, they noticed that Latvians weren’t prepared for the questions asked by Western employers. They became intimidated and therefore failed to demonstrate their best qualities in the interview.
Unfortunately, this is a characteristic shared by most qualified Baltic job seekers. And when it comes to obtaining the most desired and profitable corporate positions, this is their biggest obstacle.
Another disparaging factor is that most high-level Baltic managers, particularly in Latvia and Lithuania, still adhere to an outmoded Soviet managing style (lots of ordering around but assuming little responsibility) that conflicts with Western corporate standards. Until this style is thrown out, even the most qualified Baltic managers and specialists will have problems obtaining high-level jobs. Pasanen says that most are too stubborn to change, citing the Soviet “because this is how we’ve always been doing it” rationale.
“This mentality is built so deeply in the three countries that it’s hindering all the progress,” Pasanen says. “In examples where the old mentalities have been ditched, the results are imminent.”
Latvian and Lithuanian managers continue to be the most stubborn in this area. Estonia, on the other hand, has come quite far in Western progress, which is primarily due to its geographical proximity to Finland and thus was first to experience an influx of firms eager to hire locals.
“The progress in Estonia started way before Latvia and Lithuania,” Pasanen says. “Now Estonian management is well educated and a few years ahead of Latvia and Lithuania.”
Yet things are starting to look better for the more southern two Baltic countries as they are learning from Estonia’s example. There is currently a big economic boom in Lithuania, where GDP is highest. According to Pasanen, since financial investing and development started last in Lithuania, they were able to learn from Estonia and Latvia’s mistakes.
Despite relatively technical problems with clashes of business expectations and mentalities, the future of employment opportunities in the Baltics is bright. All three specialists agree that although EU membership won’t have a dramatic effect on the market, it will facilitate growth.
“The market is definitely active, and there is quite a lot of demand,” says Arste-Avotina. “We are clearly doing better than previous years.”
Sooner or later, say Latvia’s human resource specialists, the Baltics will shed their Soviet mentality and adjust to Western standards. It’s just a matter of time.
“All three Baltic states are heading in the right direction,” says Pasanen. “And they should be proud of this.”