The shaping of market relations in Belarus is connected with a reduction in the employment rate. For the first time in the Republic's history the number of people employed in the economy began to fall, from 5.1 million people in 1990 to 4.4 million in 1999. The employment ratio has correspondingly decreased from 86.3% to 74.3%.
Thanks to a certain improvement in the economic situation in the country, positive changes have appeared in the sphere of labor. A gradual stabilization of the employment rate is observed in the real sector of economy. In 1997, the number of appointments for the first time exceeded the number of dismissals. The rate of forced partial employment in the production sector has significantly dropped, from 14% in 1997 to 4% in May 2000.
The decrease in the number of people employed in the real sector has significantly changed the structure of employment by sectors of economy. The release of the workforce from the production sphere is partially compensated by a growth of the number people engaged in the social sphere where about 48% of the workforce is employed at present. The number of people engaged in education, health protection, finances and crediting has especially increased. The employment growth tendency is observed in the industrial production and construction, The outflow of the workforce from agriculture has considerably dropped.
Significant changes have occurred in the distribution of the employed population among sectors of the economy. In the course of the years of reforms the workforce at the state-run enterprises has decreased by almost one-third and its share dropped from 73.9% to 57.3%. The share of people engaged in the non-state sector has respectively increased from 26% to 42.7%. The development process of private entrepreneurship is rather dynamic. At present, there are more than 220 thousand entrepreneurs (5% of the total workforce in the economy).
As a result of a priority development of processing industry branches, such as automobile engineering, tractor and agricultural machinery engineering, optics, radio-electronics, precise instrument engineering and other industries which require highly qualified workforce, a stable system of training qualified personnel has been formed in the country, which ensures a high educational level of the population.
At present, 380 people out of each 1000 engaged in the real sector of the economy, have higher or secondary special education, in the sphere of services this number is 580-690 people, depending on the sector. By the social composition the working population consists of white collar employees (33%) and workers (about 67%). Within the professional structure of white collar employees more than 24% are executives of enterprises and organizations, about 68% are specialists in various fields, including more than 11% engineers, 7% accountants, 18% teachers, about 13% medical personnel.
Among workers, more than 12% have a higher or secondary special education. Noticeable positive changes have occurred within the recent years in the professional composition of workers, accompanied by the appearance of new professions and extinction of old ones. The new professions of workers are connected with the application of computers, robots, microprocessor facilities and flexible technologies. The number of welders using diffusion welding, laser and electronic beam installations, and operators of laser, topographic instruments, etc. has grown.
In the middle of 1991 the Law On Employment of the Population was adopted, which defined the legal, social and organizational basis of regulating the employment of the population. Pursuant to the Law, the Committee on the Employment of the Population was founded under the Ministry of Labor of the Republic of Belarus, there function Oblast and town committees on employment. Along with the committees on employment, there function public commercial organizations dealing with provision of jobs to the population. Their activity is aimed at pursuing an active policy in the labour market by facilitating employment and providing material support to unemployed people, professional training and re-training of the unemployed; booking and creating jobs at enterprises for unemployed people who are not capable of competing on the labour market (such as invalids, young people, women, etc.); providing information and consultations to people who apply for a job.