Czechia looks to south of EU to plug gap in foreign workers

Czechia is targeting countries with above-average unemployment rates in the EU, such as Portugal and Spain, to fill its own labor-market shortages. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 26.01.2024 11:47:00 (updated on 26.01.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

In response to an ongoing labor shortage, the Czech Labor Ministry plans to attract workers from southern EU countries with higher unemployment rates, such as Spain and Portugal. Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka announced that the country will target qualified and expert workers by establishing close cooperation with local institutions in the relevant southern EU countries that mediate employment. 

The move comes as employers have long complained about the lack of available workers domestically, and the government has been working with the Ministry of Labor to create a model that supports the recruitment of employees from both EU and non-EU countries.

A focus on IT and research

"We are taking targeted steps to attract these people to our labor market," said Jurečka. "There are countries, especially in southern Europe, where the unemployment rate is significantly above the EU average. For young people, it can be as high as 10 to 15 percent. We want to bring in people with high competence, particularly in the fields of IT and research.”

According to Chamber of Commerce president Zdeňko Zajíček, Czechia must also focus more on attracting foreign students (from both southern Europe, the EU, and non-EU countries) to Czechia. This would ultimately be good for the country’s labor force: "It's much easier for young people to adapt here, learn the language, and see a perspective for growing their career," he said.

The Czech Republic currently boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, with 271,800 vacancies registered by labor offices at the end of last year. 

Also looking further east

According to Milena Jabůrková, vice-president of the Union of Industry and Transport of the Czech Republic, the main area of need for companies is technical strength. She suggests that workers could also potentially be recruited from countries such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. 

Czech Labor Minister Marian Jurečka in July last year announced a significant labor shortage of approximately 200,000 workers in the country. Czechia in the last 12 months has set up several work-visa arrangements to attract workers from certain Asian countries, as well as some Balkans and Caucasus countries.

As of last year, the Czech Republic had over 823,900 employees from abroad registered with labor offices – an increase of nearly 30,700 from the previous year. With the implementation of the new labor market model and efforts to attract workers from other countries, the Czech Republic hopes to alleviate the labor shortage and strengthen its economy.

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