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The Czech economy suffers from a lack of people who would work in many key fields. In industrial factories, transport companies, on construction sites, in the healthcare sector and in restaurants. Almost all fields are now calling for people.
A survey by SZ Byznys among top managers of Czech companies shows that the lack of employees is the number one problem for them. As a result, it slows down the growth of companies, makes production more expensive and reduces their competitiveness. And billions of crowns in taxes and levies, which these people would pay from their wages, also escape the state.
“If we don’t have Ukrainians, Filipinos, Vietnamese, we will close it. The situation is such that we have half of the external employees in the company,” says David Bednář, for example, director of the Klatovy Poultry Plant, which is the second largest meat processor in the Czech Republic. Almost only Filipinos work in some agricultural companies, and Czechs allegedly do not want to do this work at all.
The problems across the market are similar, only the demand for specific professions differs. “There are no electricians, accountants, locksmiths, painters and other professions on the market. Governments failed in this because they did not open up the market for foreign workers,” says Kvido Štěpánek, owner of the company Isolit-Bravo, which, for example, supplies components to car companies.
A plan to improve the situation is already on the way. The government has approved several programs to strengthen migration from third countries. Together, they will open the way to Czech companies next year for twenty thousand qualified workers mainly from Ukraine, the Philippines and Mongolia, and to a lesser extent from Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, the cabinet anticipates that the hungry labor market will be strengthened by another 20,000 Ukrainian refugees over the next year. A total of 40,000 people.
“Spitting in the Stove”
According to a number of industrialists, this is a step in the right direction, but it will not be enough.
From the information of business associations, it is clear that Czech companies have a many times greater need. Just randomly. According to industry associations, an estimated 60,000 people are missing in the construction industry, up to 28,000 professional drivers in transport, and 10-12,000 nurses in the healthcare sector. Approximately 10,000 cooks, waiters and auxiliary staff in gastronomy. And eight to nine thousand workers in agriculture. And this could actually be continued after all the individual branches.
“Of course, it’s still not enough, and strategic change will only come with the new Aliens Act and the digitization of the entire application system, which is being worked on. Unfortunately, the increase has limits to what embassies can handle. We hope that their capacity will gradually increase,” says Tomáš Prouza, advisor to the Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela and president of the Trade and Tourism Association, about the government’s plan.
According to him, the current situation is unprofitable for companies, because they are losing orders that they would like to fulfill, but there is no one to produce them, and the state is thus again losing significant money. “According to the analysis of the Chamber of Commerce, the state will incur 150 billion crowns in uncollected taxes and insurance contributions this year alone, which would solve a large part of the deficit,” he added.
At the same time, it certainly cannot be expected that the situation would resolve itself. On the contrary, it will get worse due to deteriorating demographics. By 2032, the Czech working-age population is expected to decline by more than 240,000 people.
For example, according to Ladislav Dušek from the Institute of Health Information and Statistics, 14 percent of general nurses, i.e. almost 12,000, will retire from the health sector in the next decade.
“Twenty thousand people from abroad will certainly not be enough. It’s better than nothing, but such an amount is like spitting into a hot stove,” says Kvido Štěpánek of current politics.
An increase of 20,000 employees per year is a positive promise, however, compared to the quota before the war conflict, it is still insufficient.
The government’s plan is to increase quotas in programs linked to the Aliens Act. For example, in the Qualified Employee Program, the quota is increased by five thousand. In the case of Filipinos, instead of the current 3,000 applications for employment cards, the embassies will grant 5,300 applications per year, for Mongolia, the quota has increased from 2,000 to 3,000 applications. This program is the only one that will come into force in May, the others will take effect already in January. This follows from the working proposal available to the editors of SZ Byznys. The proposal is now in interdepartmental proceedings.
From January, the quota for qualified employees from Ukraine with temporary protection in other EU member states will also increase by 11,000. The suspended Extraordinary Work Visa program for 2,500 workers in agriculture, food and forestry will be restored. It stopped after the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine. Residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova and North Macedonia should also enter these sectors.
The quota for employee cards for highly qualified workers such as IT specialists, software developers, engineers, doctors or nurses will also be increased by 1,500 places.
“An increase of 20,000 employees per year is a positive promise, however, compared to the quota before the war conflict, it is still insufficient,” responded Tomáš Zelený from the Chamber of Commerce, which initiated the proposal. She has long been appealing for the hiring of a several times larger number of workers. In the past, for example, trade unions also blocked solutions to the situation, but the agenda is also complicated due to the fact that it is being discussed across several departments.
The government is also discussing an amendment to the Aliens Act itself, which could come into effect in January 2026. It is expected, for example, to simplify the administration, i.e. digitize the entire residence agenda (new ICAS information system), ensure the registration of all foreigners with a stay of more than 90 days, and introduce the role of a guarantor (employer, school…), which will be obliged to supply the authorities with information about foreigners.
At the same time, the Chamber of Commerce warns against an increase in the administrative fee in connection with the introduction of the new IT system and blames politicians for the fact that the law is only supposed to come into force in two years.