Construction volumes decreased in 3Q

According to Statistics Estonia, in the 3rd quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter of the previous year, the total production of Estonian construction enterprises in Estonia and foreign countries decreased 5%. If only the Estonian construction market is taken into account, the construction volumes decreased 10%.

In the 3rd quarter of 2015, the production value of construction enterprises amounted to 614 million euros, of which the production value of building construction was 370 million euros and the production value of civil engineering was 244 million euros. Compared to the 3rd quarter of 2014, the volume of building construction in real terms stayed on the same level and the volume of civil engineering decreased by about a tenth.

Compared to the same period of 2014, the domestic construction market was influenced the most by a decrease in civil engineering. There was also a decrease in repair and reconstruction work in building construction. At the same time, new building construction continued to grow.

The construction volume of Estonian construction enterprises in foreign countries increased by more than a half compared to the 3rd quarter of 2014, influenced mainly by the construction of buildings. Construction volumes in foreign countries accounted for 13% of the total volume of construction in the 3rd quarter of 2015.

According to the data of the Register of Construction Works, in the 3rd quarter of 2015, the number of dwelling completions was 985, i.e. two times more than in the same period of 2014. More than a half of the completed dwellings were situated in blocks of flats. The majority of completed dwellings were situated in Tallinn.

There is still a demand for new dwellings with a good location and high quality. In the 3rd quarter of 2015, building permits were granted for the construction of 1,512 dwellings, which means that the number of building permits issued increased by a half compared to the 3rd quarter of 2014. The most popular type of building was block of flats.

The number of completed non-residential buildings was 292 with a useful floor area of 166,300 square metres – this consisted primarily of new industrial, storage and commercial premises. Compared to the 3rd quarter of 2014, the useful floor area as well as the volume of completed non-residential buildings decreased.Diagram: Construction volume index and its trend, 1st quarter 2000 – 3rd quarter 2015

Source: Statistics Estonia

Average Estonian pension is 371 eur

The average old-age pension in Estonia was 370.9 euros per month in the third quarter of 2015, Statistics Estonia said on Friday.

Compared to the third quarter of 2014, the average old-age pension was bigger by 6 percent.

The average size of pension in Estonia in the third quarter also grew by 6 percent year over year to 326.8 euros.

Source: Baltic News Service

Transferwise founders named European Web Entrepreneurs of The Year

The European Commission today announced the winners of the 2015 European Web Entrepreneurs, or Europioneers Awards. Among this year’s winners are Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann from Estonia.

Hindrikus and Käärmann took home the Web Entrepreneur of the Year title, presented by the Vice President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen, and the President of the European Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula. The winners were announced during Slush Conference in Helsinki where the European web entrepreneur community was represented by 15,000 participants, including 1,700 start-ups, 800 investors, and 650 media representatives. The selection of the winners depended on the public voting and jury input.

Europioneers is organized by the European Commission as part of the Startup Europe initiative, in partnership with Deloitte, LEWIS PR and the European Young Innovators Forum. The objective of the competition is to identify and recognise successful European web initiatives, to promote the role web entrepreneurs play in European society, and to encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs. The award were given for the third consecutive year. In 2014 over 300 nominations were received, voted on by over 2000 members of start-up communities.

Käärmann and Hinrikus are the founders of TransferWise, an Estonian developed and UK-based peer-to-peer money transfer service with headquarters in London and offices in Tallinn and New York. More than 3 billion pounds has been transferred through TransferWise to date.

Source: ERR

Transferwise

 

Border guards receive 159 new vehicles

The Ministry of the Interior will give the Police and Border Guard (PPA) 3.6 million euros to buy 96 patrol cars and 63 all-terrain vehicles.

The new vehicles will mostly be used to strengthened border security, replacing 82 older models.

The all-terrain vehicles will include 10 UTVs, 23 snowmobiles and 26 mountain bikes.

A procurement deal will be signed in February and the first vehicles should arrive in April 2016.

Source: ERR

 

Estonia’s gender gap narrows

Estonia has placed 21st among 145 states in the latest Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum, while last year Estonia placed 62nd among 142 countries surveyed.

According to the report Estonia climbed the most in the ranking and mainly due to improving its political empowerment index.

In the parliament the share of women MPs rose from 19 percent to 24 percent, while in the government the share rose from 17 percent to 46 percent as a result of Estonia having six female ministers at a time for a period of a few months at the end of 2014 and the start of 2015.

Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Ireland made up the top five, while Syria, Pakistan and Yemen were the bottom three countries.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Wage growth accelerated

• Wage growth picked up as labour market tightened further in the third quarter
• Remarkable surge in employees’ purchasing power supports consumption

According to Statistics Estonia, average wage amounted to 1,045 euros, up by 6.9% annually. As labour market has tightened, workers’ bargaining power has increased and growing labour costs are biting into enterprises’ profitability.

 

Wages increased in almost all sectors. Wage growth was the fastest in sectors where the average wage level is the lowest, e.g., accommodation and food services, education, entertainment, and real estate. The rapid growth of wages in these sectors was supported by a substantial increase in the minimum wage, a political agreement to raise the wages of teachers, and strong domestic consumption that lifts the sales of enterprises who sell their products and services in the domestic market.

Average wage decreased in a relatively small sector of administrative and support service activities where average pay was lower than last year in a few small enterprises. Average wage in construction grew only by 1%, probably due to the registration of previously unofficially employed workers who still receive part of their pay in an envelope.

Households’ real purchasing power will grow markedly this year. The growth of gross wages will probably remain fast in the fourth quarter and smaller labour taxes and deflation will result in a remarkable surge in households’ purchasing power. Net wages were up by 7.7% in real terms in the first nine months of the year.

Wage growth will also be fast next year as the lack of suitable labour remains a concern. An agreed 10% increase in the minimum wage in 2016 will also have an impact. The growth of wages in real terms will slow in 2016 compared with 2015 as prices will start growing and labour taxes will be lowered less than this year.

Source: Swedbank

Estonian state budget 2016

The planned expenditures of the draft state budget for 2016 are 8.9 billion euros, a growth of 4.2 percent or 358 million over the 2015 budget. The general government budget is projected to reach a structural surplus of 0.6 per cent of GDP.

Defense expenditures will reach 2.07 per cent of forecast GDP. This means an increase of 37.1 million euros, or 9 per cent over 2015. The national defense budget of 451 million euros will ensure the development of defense capabilities.

Read more from the report of the Estonian Ministry of Finance here

Majority of Estonians are satisfied with their job

According to Statistics Estonia, 85% of employees are very or rather satisfied with their job. In the last 12 months, every fifth employee has had conflicts interfering with the relations and work of enterprise and employees.

Approximately 72% of employees – 79% of women and 65% of men – considered having a good relationship with the employer to be very important.

More than a quarter (28%) of employees is very satisfied and more than half of employees (57%) are rather satisfied with the current job. In the comparison of occupations, satisfaction is highest among managers, professionals (technicians and associate professionals) and clerical support workers, one third of whom is very satisfied with their job.

About one third (31%) of employers considered the adequacy of employees’ skills and knowledge to be sufficient and more than half (62%) considered it to be rather sufficient. However, nearly three quarters (71%) of employees considered their adequacy of skills and knowledge for work assignments to be sufficient and a quarter have pointed out that their skills/knowledge presume more difficult work assignments. 11% of employees are very satisfied and 48% are rather satisfied with the possibilities for acquiring new skills and knowledge at work.

7 out of 10 employees consider the possibility of having a say in the enterprise’s activity, work organisation and working conditions as very or rather important. 14% of employees are very satisfied and 48% are rather satisfied with the involvement. In approximately 88% of enterprises, employees have the possibility of discussing the activity, work organisation and working conditions of the enterprise with the employer. In 6% of enterprises, employees discuss the same issues in cooperation with the employees’ representatives (trustee, working environment representative).

The work environment has a great impact on the effective performance of work tasks and on the person’s health. In addition to managers, several representatives and organisations of employees’ interests are also involved in the improvement of the working environment. 6% of enterprises have a trade union and 7% of employees belong to one. However, there is a working environment representative in more than half (54%) of enterprises: in almost all (99%) enterprises with 250 and more employees, and in a third of enterprises with 5–9 employees. A working environment council operates in 6 out of 10 enterprises with 50–249 employees and in 9 out of 10 enterprises with 250 and more employees. There is a trustee in approximately 18% of enterprises, which is 5 percentage points more than in 2009.

7% of employees marked it possible to lose their job due to employer’s initiation and 15% marked it possible to leave their job due to own initiation in the next 6 months. 31% of employers are absolutely certain of the possibility of finding a new job after leaving the current job.

Around 88% of employees come in contact with a health risk in at least 25% of their working time, which is 4 percentage points more than in 2009. In at least a quarter of their working time, employees came in contact with the following health risks: working with a display screen equipment (47%), unvarying movements or positions causing fatigue or pain (41%) and bad (indoor) climate conditions. As at in 2015, more than three quarters (77%) enterprises promote health activities, it is more common in companies with a larger number of employees. More than half of the employees (53%) have participated in the enterprise’s health promoting activities in the last 12 months: 7 out of 10 employees of non-profit associations, foundations and state and local government agencies and 5 out of 10 employees of companies.

Statistics Estonia conducted the Work Life Survey for the first time in 2009 and repeated the survey in 2015. The survey was ordered by the Ministry of Social Affairs. The aim of the survey was to provide an overview on work organisation, relationships pertaining to work, involving employees, collective working relationships, occupational health and safety, and trends. 850 employers and 4,780 employees responded to the survey in 2015.

Source: Statistics Estonia

Tallinn stock exchange turnover on Friday EUR 220,000

The Tallinn stock exchange saw a positive trading day on Friday as the OMXT index moved up 0.32 percent to 881.56 points and turnover from 100 transactions totalled 219,078 euros.

The total turnover was quite small but most names saw trades carried out with their shares. Olympic and Kaubamaja moved up, while Tallink moved slightly downward. Merko Ehitus, which produced a very small turnover, moved up nearly 3 percent.

Olympic Entertainment Group rose 1.13 percent to 1.79 euros as turnover from 32 trades was 70,546 euros. Tallinna Kaubamaja Grupp climbed 0.46 percent to 6.58 euros as 51,380 euros’ worth of shares changed hands in seven transactions.

Source: BNS

Measuring blood pressure with 3D images

The University of Tartu and SEB Vega fund divided 20 100 euros between four teams for developing knowledge-intensive ideas. The funding helps to develop, for example, an automatic system for measuring blood pressure in real-time and a security system which makes keys and smart cards a thing of the past.

There were ten ideas in the final round and the four with the greatest business potential received funding.  According to chair of the Vega fund jury and UT Vice Rector for Development Erik Puura, the chosen projects are all in different stages. “Some are only starting their project and some need resources for the final development of the product. The Vega fund’s goal is to give a push at the right time and hope that the grant helps to achieve maximum results,” said Puura.

Member of the jury, the Head of Business Innovation at SEB Mart Maasik said the jury mainly evaluated two criteria: “Firstly, we had to believe that the people behind the idea can carry it out and, secondly, that the team had considered the business model and the business value of the idea.”

The jury admitted that although the projects were very research-based, there was not much focus on the business value of the idea. This is an aspect which needs developing and is expected from future Vega fund applicants.

The biggest grant of the fourth round of the Vega fund, 8500 euros, went to the project “CrystalSpace”, which is intended for industrial and space technology enterprises. The team develops special purpose cameras to be used on satellites or in other extreme conditions, for example, in vacuum. The camera design is based on the solution used for Estonia’s first student satellite EstCube-1.

4000 euros was given to the team “3D filament”. They are developing the most durable and strongest polymer material to use in 3D printers. What sets them apart from competitors is the product’s lower price and weight, as less material is needed for 3D printing.

Another 4000 euro grant was given to “Bloodflow”. The project’s team is developing a sensor which provides a simple and automatic system to measure systolic and diastolic blood pressure in real-time. The method is based on 3D imaging of blood vessels.

According to Mart Maasik, “Bloodflow” was still in the start-up phase but they needed a push to take the first step. “Even though they are only starting, they demonstrated the size of their market and business the best,” Maasik acknowledged the potential of the team and encouraged others to submit so to say raw research-based business ideas to the contest. “Not knowing the answers to several questions in the initial phase of the idea is temporary. You need to have the courage to try. Not all questions have answers when the idea is still fresh. These will come in time and there will be less uncertainty. The first step is to overcome insecurity, be creative and ambitious,” said Maasik and added that strong teams will find funding.

3600 euros went to support the project “OpenID” which aims to make people’s entry into buildings automatic, secure and convenient. For this, the team needs to develop a security system which does not require the use of keys and key cards.

The Vega fund (vega.ut.ee), created by the SEB Bank and the University of Tartu Idea Lab, is the first funding facility for knowledge-intensive ideas. Through the fund, the SEB Bank gives 150,000 euros over a period of three years to support the transfer of innovative solutions to everyday use.

Source: UNIVERSITY OF TARTU