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Czech employers call for more foreign skilled worker

Staff Writer | February 7, 2017
Czech corporate lobby groups urged the government to relax rules for bringing in foreign workers and speed up bureaucracy to ease a shortfall of qualified workers.
Workers   The lowest unemployment rate
The Czech Republic has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union but the lobbyists' demand has set them on a collision course with trade unions who say wages should be increased to bring local workers back into the labour market.

"The labour market is not offering enough qualified workers, neither among the unemployed or graduates, and therefore employers have to look abroad," The Union of Employers, the Chamber of Commerce and the Confederation of Industry said in a joint letter to Prime Minster Bohuslav Sobotka.

Manufacturing is a key driver of economic growth in the Czech Republic, with foreign-owned firms feeding into multinational supply chains in the auto, machinery and electronics industries.

Unemployment in the country of 10.6 million fell to 5.2 percent in December, with the number of job vacancies rising to 132,000 compared with 360,000 people out of work.

A Czech government programme fast-tracks work visas for up to 3,800 Ukrainian workers per year.

But companies say this is too few, and complain that the visa process takes too long.