Labor shortages hit the Czech Republic as companies seek out employees

A severe shortage of labor across a wide range of industries and regions spells trouble for employers up and down the country.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass
Published on 12.08.2021 11:51 (updated on 12.08.2021)

Czech companies are struggling to recruit enough employees across a wide range of sectors. From manufacturing and IT to agriculture, transport, hospitality, healthcare and tourism, a resumption in business activity has led to greater demand for employees which supply cannot yet meet.

Experts say the labor shortage is being driven by the boom in activity following widespread business closures during the pandemic, as well as government programs which kept unemployment low during the pandemic and which are now paralyzing the labor market.

The Czech Labor Office registered more than 358,000 vacancies in July, which is a record for the country. Workers are particularly lacking in the gastronomy and accommodation sectors. It is thought many employees working in these sectors found alternative employment during the pandemic and now do not want to return due to fears over the instability of such employment in the pandemic era.

The problem has been exacerbated by the departure of many foreign workers from the Czech Republic during the pandemic, many of whom have not yet returned. The Association of Hotels and Restaurants of the Czech Republic has warned that if support for tourism businesses is not implemented soon, the industry is in danger of further collapse.

“The labor shortage is mainly in manufacturing and IT, the same as in recent years,” said Tomáš Surka, the head of the Quanta recruitment agency. “But now the restaurant and hotel sector have joined as a lot of people found other employment during the pandemic and do not want to return to their original profession.”

Labor shortages are becoming a problem throughout the country. In the Liberec region, there is a lack of employees and parts manufacturers for the automotive industry and for local glassworks. Energy companies have cited a lack of IT staff and assembly workers.

“In general, it is currently more difficult to find a suitable candidate for any position than it was before the pandemic,” said Petr Holubec, a spokesperson for Prague Energy (PRE).

Agriculture has been also been hit, with nine out of ten companies missing workers according to a survey by the Agrarian Chamber. Many companies are missing up to a fifth of their usual levels of employees, and some even more. And in the transport sector, a lack of lorry drivers is having a severe impact, with companies in the Prostějov region reporting only an average of only one candidate applying for job positions.

Vladana Purdeková, from the Ostrava branch of the Labor Office, said that companies in the region are seeking large numbers of foreign workers, with over 5,000 jobs currently available for such people.

The shortage of supply for companies seeking employees was underlined by Eurostat data for June 2021 which showed that the Czech unemployment rate is the lowest in the European Union, at 2.8 percent (compared to an EU average of 7.1 percent). Data from the Czech Statistical Office meanwhile showed that female unemployment is higher than male unemployment.

“Compared to the beginning of 2020, female unemployment has increased several times more than male unemployment. This is owing to the fact that females tended to work more in services affected by anti-pandemic measures,” said Dalibor Holý, Director of the Labor Market and Equal Opportunities department at the Czech Statistical Office. 

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