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Viewpoint: Hiring Is Challenging in Azerbaijan

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By Laura Hamidova, SHRM-CPJuly 8, 2019, read original article here

Talent shortage, demanding employers, picky applicants and difficulty recruiting outside Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital and largest city, are among the hurdles recruiters face in this country just south of Russia and north of Iran.

Azerbaijan is a developing country that is learning how to make the best use of its local talent. The country’s academic institutions don’t offer a major in HR, though there are testing centers for SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certification. Universities such as Azerbaijan State Economic University, Khazar University and ADA University offer only one class in HR under the business administration faculty, which certainly can’t cover all the knowledge needed to run an effective HR function.

Talent Shortage

When Azerbaijan entered the global market and began following international standards after the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, employers in the country immediately faced a shortage of professionals who were competent in business processes. Azerbaijani businesses hired expatriate experts, whose two main functions were to perform the job and to develop local employees.

After more than 25 years of development, dedication and integrated work between expatriate experts and local professionals, the country has achieved noticeable results in hiring Azerbaijani nationals. For example, at the end of 2018, British Petroleum’s workforce operating in Azerbaijan was 96 percent Azerbaijani.

But there is still a shortage of local professionals in the oil and gas sector and other industries. The shortage of IT professionals is particularly severe. The situation today can be characterized in two words: “brain drain.” Those developers who have experience in programs such as Java, C# and SQL, or who have good language skills, have been constantly headhunted within the Commonwealth of Independent States and Eastern Europe countries. They are leaving Azerbaijan for higher pay and better working conditions.

During the last 10 years, Azerbaijan has been able to develop good IT professionals but unable to adequately retain them. The attrition rate of IT professionals at one bank during the last three years reached 34 percent. This is a huge number. There is an especially big demand for developers in the banking sector due to the development of Internet banking and online transactions.

Demanding Employers, Discerning Applicants

The talent shortage is not the only challenge. It is also becoming more and more difficult to match candidates with positions. On the one hand, employers are demanding that candidates have relevant experience and soft skills, as well as mastery of at least two foreign languages, but are unwilling to pay a salary that is commensurate with these qualifications.

On the other hand, candidates are picky, as well. Last January, recruiters at my company, FireWorks Human Resources Management (HRM), worked with three candidates who were offered the position of training manager at one of the local employers in the consulting sector. They all rejected the offers.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Introduction to the Global Human Resources Discipline]

Difficulty Recruiting Outside of Baku

Most of the businesses in Azerbaijan are located in Baku. All big local and foreign companies open their head offices in Baku, and most of them don’t have branches in other regions of Azerbaijan. But for those that do, finding suitable candidates for their positions can be difficult. Most workers are in Baku or live outside Azerbaijan.

Kapital Bank—the third biggest bank in Azerbaijan—has 110 branches across the country. Only 24 of these branches are in Baku. Due to business growth, the organization hires between 500 and 600 employees every year, and many openings are outside Baku.

Farqana Mammadova, head of HR at Kapital Bank, said it is especially difficult to find young professionals in the cities that don’t have universities and colleges.

Kapital Bank has been meeting with graduates at universities in Baku who are originally from outlying areas and offering them internships at the branches in regions around Azerbaijan. This approach has helped close workforce gaps.

Laura Hamidova, SHRM-CP, is director of FireWorks HRM in Baku, Azerbaijan.

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Azerbaijan

Armenia continues violating ceasefire with Azerbaijan

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Over the past 24 hours, Armenian armed forces have violated the ceasefire along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops 24 times, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on Jan. 27.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding districts.

News.Az

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US criticism, elections and accusations – Week in the Caucasus from JAMnews

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• S. Ossetian authorities open crossing points with Georgia for pensioners, seriously ill – иге will be closed again soon

• Curtain closes on opera scandal involving Azerbaijani tenor, Armenian singer

• American congressmen write letter to Georgian PM detailing eight main problems in Georgia

• Putin bidding to stay in power forever—why this is the leading conclusion amongst experts

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Azerbaijani diaspora reacts to Armenian provocation in Ukrainian media

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News.Az presents an article headlined "Azerbaijani diaspora reacts to Armenian provocation in Ukrainian media" published by Vesti.az

“This is an obvious provocation of those worried about the growing level of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Ukraine. I can’t call otherwise the message of a number of Ukrainian media that “Azerbaijan, which was the venue for the official event under the auspices of the EU Eastern Partnership, refused the representative of Ukraine because of her Armenian origin”. This, according to the publication of “European Truth” refers to the director of the Department of International Cooperation and European Integration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Mary Hakobyan," the head of the United Diaspora of Azerbaijanis of Ukraine, Doctor of Law Hikmet Javadov wrote on his Facebook page.

“According to our data, the Conflict Analysis seminar really took place on January 13-16 in Baku. It was organized by the European Union for the countries of the Eastern Partnership. And the participants in this seminar were very pleased with how the event was organized. As for Ms. Hakobyan, she really was among those invited to participate in the event. The Azerbaijani side gave all guarantees of her security. But, for reasons inexplicable to the host country, at the very last moment, M. Hakobyan herself refused a trip to Azerbaijan.

After that, information leaked into the Ukrainian media distorted the facts and created the preconditions for speculation. This saddens us, representatives of the Azerbaijani diaspora of Ukraine. Because it is quite obvious that the paymasters of such misinformation are the forces that are very concerned about the obvious development of Azerbaijani-Ukrainian relations.

Indeed, trade between our countries is growing, and political contacts between our countries are getting stronger. It’s enough to recall how warm and fruitful was the visit of the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky to Baku last December. Within its framework, many meetings were held, many mutually beneficial documents were signed, relations between our countries received a new impetus.

And just recently, during the meeting held in Verkhovna Rada, the composition of the working group on inter-parliamentary relations between Ukraine and Azerbaijan was approved. It included 48 Ukrainian deputies. The co-chairs of the working group were deputies Valery Kolyukh and Vladimir Kreidenko. I was proud and happy to attend this meeting. At this meeting, my initiative to hold a meeting between members of the working group on interparliamentary relations with representatives of the Azerbaijani diaspora in Ukraine was approved. To increase the effectiveness of the working group, it was important to choose a secretary from the Diaspora organization. I am grateful to everyone who supported the candidacy of Ivan Slobodianik nominated by me.

I’m talking about all this in order to show how much Azerbaijan-Ukraine relations have developed recently. And this, in my opinion, is what worries forces that are stirring up a “scandal” in the Ukrainian media. Moreover, the authors of this misinformation are trying to describe this case as if the “Hakobyan case” is evidence of a conflict between Kyiv and Baku.

This is not the case. But looking at this incident, we once again saw the “ears” of those who are so nervous about the rapid development of relations between our countries. Their attempts are in vain. Azerbaijan and Ukraine will further deepen relations, support each other in various international organizations, unlike Armenia, which has always supported Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea,” H. Javadov wrote.

News.Az

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