Toro Group creates human-related solutions in the organization by putting its positive thinking, energy, creativity, perseverance and flexibility into the process. The company strives to build working relationships, both between consultants and the management, and with the current and potential employees of dozens of client companies. Throughout these 20 years, the team has been looking for ways to encourage continuous development and improvement. Toro Group is not a brand, capital or a know-how, but people who follow their professionalism and dreams, who embody dedication, loyalty, ambition and team spirit, and who believe that business in Bulgaria can and should have a human face.
Ms. Petrova, in 2000 you started a company with a focus on recruiting and training employees. How has Toro Group's portfolio of services expanded over these 20 years?
20 years ago we launched several services in our portfolio, one of the main ones to this day being the selection of real professionals. In the beginning, our services focused primarily on executive positions, but by gaining experience and competence, we also focused on the specific expertise of middle management positions. Top management positions are served through our Executive search company Friisberg & Partners. We are also one of the first companies in Bulgaria to provide the Personnel Leasing or Outsourcing service. Currently, the company is working in two main areas, including different HR services - talent acquisition, evaluation and development, and outsourcing services.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers claimed that there was a shortage in the labor market. What is the situation up to date (March 24, 2020)?
Before the pandemic, the shortage of personnel was a problem not only for the Bulgarian market but also globally. Data suggests that the shortage of specialists has doubled globally over the last ten years. With the onset of the pandemic and the introduced quarantine, the social and economic life was almost completely reduced. As a consequence, a heavy blow to the economy and hence to the people is expected. Given the rigid measures implemented in our country, as well as in almost all of Europe, the state of emergency will have a very negative impact on employment. There will certainly be a large number of released people from the most affected sectors.
After the announced state of emergency in Bulgaria, what kind of consultations and support did your clients request?
The first thing our Leasing Personnel customers were interested in was the posibilities to keep their employment during the crisis. In the event of redundancy, what kind of benefits will the employees be entitled to. There is a well-established and applied state aid scheme in Europe for a fixed term to cover part of the state's wage if the employer does not dismiss the company’s employees and continues to pay them full remuneration. The Bulgarian government has proposed in the newly adopted law a scheme in which for a period of 3 months there should be 60% of state aid for employees of certain business sectors for which it will be eligible to apply.
According to your forecasts, what kind of specialists will the Bulgarian labor market be looking for by the end of the year?
In this dynamic situation, I cannot make any forecasts. One is a fact - most of the Bulgarians working abroad have returned to Bulgaria. Certainly medicals will be sought. Hospitals will need skilled and supportive staff. The pharmaceutical industry will also need experienced professionals. IT and Telecommunications are also expected to continue searching for professionals. Now that many of us are working from home, tech companies like Zoom Video Communications are on the rise. Online commerce and supply are also on the rise.
What are the lessons the COVID-19 outbreak taught you?
After this crisis, nothing will be the same. In this situation, we must all be united, flexible and adaptable to the new reality. What is clear is that computers and technology will be everywhere. Pupils and students learn remotely, staff work from home. In my opinion, once the epidemic is over, many employers will continue this practice to reduce their costs. The business will continue to invest in robotics and production automation, thus minimizing the human factor in manufacturing.
If you were the Minister of Labor and Social Policy today, what immediate measures would you undertake?
It is most important for me to preserve the health and life of people and their employment. In this complex situation, I think we must all be cooperative and, if necessary, move to flexible working hours and pay reductions in order to save people.
Both BIA and Toro Group have a full year anniversary in 2020. It is not really a time for celebrations, but if we do not dream, existence is meaningless. What are your dreams for the development of the company?
First of all, I wish us all a healthy life, and to get out of the pandemic faster. After this storm, we will remain united and continue to grow, retain our current clients and have new satisfied clients, and continue to build long-term partnerships and friendships. I wish we could achieve our wildest dreams and always be satisfied with our work!