Language courses are among the most popular benefits for Czech companies

However, due to coronavirus and the pandemic, some companies are starting to save money on benefits

Samantha Tatro

Written by Samantha Tatro
Published on 20.10.2020 13:03 (updated on 20.10.2020)

Foreign language programs have become one of the most popular benefit offerings for Czech companies, but the pandemic has led many companies to temporarily cut back on some of their benefits, according to a published report.

Language courses and contributions to language courses have consistently ranked among the most popular benefits from employers, according to Aktualne. Many Czechs are most interested in learning English or German.

According to data from PricewaterhouseCoopers, 95 percent of Czech companies helped contribute to the cost of language courses for their employees by the end of 2019.

In some cases, if the company wants the employee to learn another language, they will cover the entire cost of the language course.

However, those language courses may be at risk going forward as the pandemic continues. Companies looking to save are being more selective about who can use their language benefits programs, according to Aktualne.

Across the country, more and more Czechs can converse in a foreign language -- but the Czech Republic lags behind other countries in the European Union. According to a survey by ManpowerGroup, 49 percent of Czechs can speak in another language.

"According to one European Union survey, 49 percent of Czechs can converse in one foreign language. In Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Sweden, it is over 90 percent," ManpowerGroup spokesman Jiří Halbrštát told Aktualne. "18 percent of Czechs understand television news in English, but in the Netherlands it is more than half. 77 percent of the population can converse with two foreign languages, 58 percent in Denmark, but only 22 percent in our country."

However, the number of Czechs that can speak in another language and understand a foreign language has been growing the past few years. Children, in particular, are learning more foreign languages.

"The access of children and students to language teaching is now very good, stays abroad during their studies are quite common and the possibility of language courses at work is one of the most sought-after benefits," Halbrštát said.

Speaking English has become a key part to employment in the Czech Republic, according to Halbrštát. Some companies may require English unnecessarily, the HR specialist said. However, many Czechs tend to overstate their fluency in English.

"I would almost say that often unnecessarily, but in any case, ignorance of English is a big handicap. According to our statistics, the demand for English is in more than 75 percent of vacancies," Halbrštát said. "It is true that you often do not recognize if you really need English and how It may happen that a communicative knowledge of English will be required in the advertisement, but in the end the candidate will use English only twice a month."

Language benefits are not the only benefit at risk due to the pandemic in the Czech Republic. Many Czechs will not get bonuses this year due to the pandemic, or they will miss out on vouchers for things like fitness centers.

"In 2019, 95 employers provided an average of five different benefits per employee. They were particularly widespread in the IT, pharmacy and automotive industries, for example, these benefits," Lukáš Kovanda, an economist at Trinity Bank, told Aktualne.