Prague, Czech Republic – It’s getting increasingly common to hear dozens of different languages spoken in the streets of Prague, and that’s not only because of tourists.
According to a study by Prague’s Institute of Planning and Development (IPR), released earlier this month, foreigners now account for more than one fourth (roughly 28%) of the total number of workers in the Czech capital city. In absolute terms, this represents approximately 200.000 non-Czech workers (twice as many as in 2010) out of a total workforce of 700.000 people.
All categories included, foreigners make up roughly 15% of Prague’s total population of 1.3 million people.
But this data doesn’t reflect the share of foreign-born nationals in the country as a whole, as working-age foreigners are over-represented in Prague compared to other parts of the country: foreigners account for roughly 11% of the Czech workforce and for 5% of the total Czech population, according to the Czech statistical office.
The background of these foreigners coming to Prague is increasingly diverse: Slovaks are by far the most represented, with 70.000 registered workers, followed by Ukrainians (nearly 50.000). And while many workers move to Prague from neighboring Central European countries (Poland, Hungary), the Czech capital is a highly attractive destination for both Westerners (U.K., France, Italy, Germany) and workers from Eastern European countries (Romania, Bulgaria) or the Balkans (Serbia).
The share of women in Prague’s foreign workforce has also skyrocketed in the last few years, from 25% ten years ago to 42% today.
It’s no coincidence the number of foreigners has increased so much in the last few years. Boasting the lowest unemployment rate in Europe, the Czech Republic is facing dramatic labor shortages, with companies and businesses finding it increasingly difficult to find applicants for the growing number of open positions – prompting many of them to turn to employment agencies, sometimes operating at the border of legality.
In this regard, “foreigners have become an irreplaceable source of labor for Prague, and more flexible than the domestic labor force”, according to an IPR spokesperson, who highlighted that “they are able to accept some less-attractive employment conditions” and fill the low-skilled positions.
And while many decide to move to Prague for career opportunities, the Czech capital city also offers a substantial quality of life for foreigners and expats, cementing its position as one of the most attractive destinations in Europe.