Thousands of Filipino workers headed to Czechia amid labor shortages

Unemployment in the country is among the lowest in the EU, and companies in various fields are finding it difficult to find new employees. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 26.03.2024 11:19:00 (updated on 29.03.2024) Reading time: 1 minute

The Czech Republic is looking to the Philippines to help address severe labor shortages across various sectors, with thousands of Filipino workers expected to arrive this year under an expanded annual quota.

Unemployment in the Czech Republic remains at 4 percent, with nearly 300,000 people jobless in February. Companies, particularly in agriculture, where an estimated 10,000 workers are needed, are struggling to find employees domestically.

Czech ambassador to the Philippines Karel Hejč, told iRozhlas the embassy in Manila plans to expand to handle increased visa processing: "We will expand from half a floor to three quarters. The new quarter is being prepared so that the political part of the embassy can be moved there. And the other half will be adjusted to accommodate all the consular staff who will have to handle that volume."

Last year, the Czech government approved raising the annual quota for Filipino workers to 10,500, a fourfold increase. The higher cap takes effect in May.

"At this moment, the plan is to receive five new consular officers sent from Prague and three new local forces, Filipinos," Hejč added.

However, recruiting Filipino workers involves unique requirements compared to other countries. Companies cannot directly hire workers but must partner with employment agencies on both sides that have obtained Philippine government accreditation.

"The most important requirement is that the company cannot find a worker on its own but must find a professional partner on the other side," explained Tomáš Zelený from the Czech Chamber of Commerce.

The paper-based visa process is also cumbersome and takes months. Agriculture Minister Marek Výborný seeks to expedite the system before complete digitization is expected by 2026.

Both countries stand to benefit from the labor migration, Výborný said, with Filipino workers gaining know-how to help modernize their homeland's agriculture sector.

"It's a mutual interest," he said, citing higher Filipino wages, EU employment rights, and shared [historic] Catholic traditions strengthening bilateral ties.

Around 7,000 Filipinos currently work in the Czech Republic. Remittances from the Philippine diaspora are vital.

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