The Czech govt. is counting on foreigners to fill critical labor shortages

Experts, however, say that a proposal by the Ministry of Industry and Trade to increase the foreign workforce by 20,000 is insufficient. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 27.09.2023 10:01:00 (updated on 27.09.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech government is proposing measures to increase the number of foreign workers in the country by 20,000 annually to address critical labor shortages in various industries, reports business publication e15.

The plan from the Ministry of Industry and Trade would boost quotas for employment cards and work visas for Ukrainians, Filipinos, and others each year. However, businesses say the increases are insufficient given exceptionally low unemployment.

Construction, for example, is short 60,000 masons and other trades. Transport firms warn of a looming deficit of 25,000-28,000 professional drivers within the next year. Healthcare must recruit an additional 10,000-12,000 nurses to replace a retiring workforce.

Štěpán Koláček from the staffing agency Grafton Recruitment described the current situation in the labor market to e15 as a bleak one. “Our job market is so tight that every part of the world we can recruit from is bailing us out. We would welcome and be able to employ far more workers from abroad. However, low quotas prevent this," Koláček said.

The labor crunch has slowed housing construction as well as commercial and industrial projects including roads and highways. Employers have come to rely heavily on Ukrainian workers but funding for post-war rebuilding could draw them home.

While nearly 800,000 foreign-born residents work in the Czech Republic and comprise around 15 percent of the workforce, quotas have not kept pace with demand. Personnel agencies report increasing interest from more distant countries like India, the Philippines, and Nepal to fill roles.

The proposal would raise the quotas for the Philippines under the Qualified Employee Program by 5,000 annually. Limits for Ukrainian workers would grow by 11,000 while highly-skilled visa ceilings, for roles in IT and engineering, would increase by 1,500.

Foreign workers in Czechia by the numbers

  • Nearly 800,000 foreign workers are registered with labor offices, and make up 15 percent of the Czech workforce.
  • The largest foreign worker populations in Czechia are Ukrainians (270,000), Slovaks (200,000), Indians, Filipinos, and Nepalese (11,000). Filipinos are increasingly employed in manufacturing, also as drivers, welders, mechanics, operators, and electricians.
  • The state also intends to attract highly qualified professionals such as IT specialists, software developers, engineers, doctors, and nurses, for whom the limit will increase by 1,500 permits. For example, hundreds of Indians have found employment in the field of computer science in the Czech Republic.
  • Source: e15

The agriculture and food production industry is urgently seeking up to 8,000-9,000 foreign laborers for primary production. For those industries, the government is counting on reinforcements from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, North Macedonia, and Mongolia through the Extraordinary Work Visa Program.

The government and business associations are pushing for quicker approval processes, noting that 300,000 job vacancies and a shrinking domestic workforce could cost CZK 150 billion in lost revenue this year alone.

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