Prague, Czech Republic – Labour shortages are one of the Czech economy’s main challenges. And it’s only getting worse as the country prepares to increase by two-fold the quotas for Ukrainian workers coming to work in the Czech Republic.
Czech Republic increases by twofold quotas for Ukrainian workers
Last week, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (CSSD) announced the government decided to double the number of working permits that can be delivered to Ukrainian citizens every year, bringing it to 40.000 annually compared to 20.000 until today. Under the new scheme, Ukrainian employees should also be guaranteed higher wages than the one they’re earning now, according to local media.
Due to take effect in November this year, the measure comes at a period of all-time high labour shortages. Czech and foreign companies operating in the country are facing increasing difficulties to find applicants and workers to fill vacant positions: in May, unemployment dropped at 2.6% – the lowest in the Czech Republic in the past 22 years and the single lowest rate in the EU.
While slightly more than 200.000 people were unemployed last month, there were more than 350.000 vacant positions, according to figures from the Czech Ministry of Labour.
Czech Republic turns to foreign workforce to fill job vacancies
To address the problem, widely identified as one of the main challenges hindering their growth by Czech companies, the government has loosened up legislation and implemented special visa programs to attract workforce from abroad.
The special program for Ukrainian workers was initially implemented in 2016 for less than 4.000 working permits per year, and its scope has since then been gradually increased.
Similar programs are in place for workers from other non-EU countries, including Mongolia and the Philippines. Unsurprisingly, the Czech Republic has the highest rate of employment for non-EU citizens in the entire bloc.
Ukrainians, as in neighbouring Poland for instance, make up the bulk of foreigners established in the Czech Republic: according to official data, more than 130.000 Ukrainian citizens worked in the country at the end of last year, with around 40% of them estimated to live in Prague. From manufacturing to construction and agriculture, Ukrainians make up the majority of foreign workers in most of the Czech economy’s sectors.
Ukrainians are the largest foreign-born community in the Czech Republic today, ahead of Slovaks (around 110.000, according to the Czech statistical office). Roughly speaking, nearly one out of four foreigners in the Czech Republic comes from Ukraine.