Due to its geographical location, Cyprus has always been a destination for hosting people who were forced to leave their countries due to war conflicts. For example, after the civil war in Lebanon and the Yugoslav wars, Cyprus hosted people and absorbed labor from the affected countries. Many of them are now Cypriot citizens and are productive units in the economy.
The ongoing war in Ukraine has created, according to figures from the UN refugee agency, 4.9 million refugees so far. Tens of thousands of these people will choose Cyprus as their next stop. Similarly, it is possible that companies from Ukraine or Russia, some of which are already active in Cyprus, may choose to transfer their headquarters and their staff to our country.
Beyond the humanitarian dimension of the matter, which is undoubtedly of the greatest importance, Cyprus can reap multiple benefits in terms of know-how and immediate needs, through the absorption of labor force from Ukraine and Russia. In particular, Ukraine has in recent years built a good name for its performance in the field of technology, while Ukrainian IT workers are considered among the most qualified in Europe. It is important to note that now globally known start-ups such as Gramarly, Readdle and YouScan started in Ukraine and were then acquired by international giants such as Amazon and Snapchat.
The attraction of human potential in the field of technology functions as reinforcement in the context of the effort to create a regional tech hub between Europe and Asia, in Cyprus. Already companies such as Wargaming, Apella Games, Nexters, Easybrain, 3CX have chosen our country for the establishment of their corporate base, taking into account the comparative advantages that Cyprus has such as the geographical location, the tax regime, the qualified domestic human resources, the high level of support services, as well as the quality of life. In fact, according to a recent study carried out by an audit firm on behalf of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Organization (Invest Cyprus), the economic impact of the presence of international technology companies in our country amounted to €1.5 billion in 2020.
In addition to the technology sector, Cyprus faces human resource shortages in several sectors. As the general manager of the OEB, Mr. Michalis Antoniou, pointed out in his statements, deficiencies also exist in the tourism industry, retail trade and catering, which makes finding solutions to facilitate the integration and direct employment of personnel from third countries necessary.
With the current data, in order to employ a person from a third country he needs certification from the Ministry of Justice of his country of origin, which in the case of Ukraine is difficult to do. OEB’s recommendation is that these personnel be accepted in Cyprus initially with a tourist visa and the certification process be done later. There could also be an expansion of the criteria required to obtain the Cyprus Digital Nomad Visa, a recently implemented measure aimed exclusively at attracting personnel from third countries, employed in the technology sector.
In recent years, Cyprus has made significant strides in establishing itself as a first-choice destination for companies and workers from abroad. However, there is always room for improvement. In this direction, the reform of the Judiciary is of major importance for strengthening our competitiveness, as well as dealing with the bureaucracy which can be achieved in combination with the digital transformation of the state, with the aim of speeding up and simplifying the procedures.
Evaluating the developments, as Cyprus we must move with speed, flexibility and implement targeted policies in order to attract more innovative companies and established professionals, while strengthening Cyprus’ accessibility to new European and regional markets.