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Despite growing acceptance, Czechs remain suspicious of foreign workers

Prague, Czech Republic – Although Czechs see the skyrocketing influx of foreign workers in the country in an increasingly positive light, old protective habits die hard.

Half of Czechs support the idea of employing foreign workers

According to a poll (in Czech) by the CVVM agency conducted last month, Czechs’ support for employing foreign workers is increasing: nearly half of respondents (49%) are in favour, compared to 41% who oppose the idea of relying on workers from abroad. 10% of respondents had no opinion on the topic.

Although signalling growing acceptance levels compared to a few years ago (in 2016, only 34% were in favour of hiring foreign workers, and 57% moderately or strongly opposed it), it remains much less than in the 2000’s, when Czechs appeared to have had a much better opinion about hiring from abroad: the peak was reached in 2008, when 68% of respondents declared themselves in favour and only 25% disagreed).

Foreigners still perceived as a threat to local employment

On the other hand, a vast majority of respondents believe that the hiring of foreign workers should be reduced in areas with high unemployment (67%), that cheap foreign labour threatens the employment opportunities for Czech citizens (65%) and that foreigners should only be hired in jobs that Czechs are not interested in (61%). Although still high, these are the lowest rates for all three statements in the last fifteen years.

“The most significant change was in the case of the statement that cheap labor threatens the current employment of Czech citizens, where agreement decreased and disagreement rose by 11 percentage points” compared to 2016, according to the study. “This change is probably related to the currently very low unemployment rate in the Czech Republic”.

The Czech Republic currently boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the EU and suffers from strong labour shortages with the highest job vacancy rate in history.

A strong preference for EU workers

Interestingly, most respondents (61%, the highest rate since 2003) also believed that workers from other EU member states should get preference in hiring compared to people from outside the bloc. In 2018, roughly 300.000 non-EU citizens lived and worked in the Czech Republic. Finally, 49% of Czechs agreed with the statement that the inflow of foreign capital had a positive impact on the domestic labour market.

According to recent data, foreigners account for more than one fourth of total workforce in Prague, and for 11% of the workforce in the country as a whole.

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