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Czech Republic looks east to ease labour shortages

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - 21 JUNE 2014: People on the streets of Prague, Czech Republic. Prague is one of the most visited city in Europe with over 5 million visitors every year.

The Czech government is looking to attract more foreign workers by simplifying the process of issuing work permits, addressing the challenges posed by the increasing labour shortage in the country.

According to a new government strategy, Czech firms can now employ highly-qualified people from Ukraine, Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova, and from central Asia.

“There is no need to recall the damage caused by a lack of qualified employees in our economy, and therefore we need to act quickly,” said Vladimír Dlouhý, president of the Czech Chamber of Commerce.

According to the chamber, the country lost 84 billion crowns (3.2 billion euros) due to a lack of workers last year, and it estimates losses to reach 110 billion crowns (4.2 billion euros) in 2019.

The annual quota for Ukrainian workers, now at 19,600, is by far the highest and from September it should rise to 40,000. For Montenegro and Serbia, it will be 2,000; for the Philippines, Moldova and Mongolia, 1,000 each; for India, 600; and for Kazakhstan 300.

“Yes, it’s a drop in the ocean. Even such a quota will not satisfy employers’ demand for workers because, according to our analysis, they currently lack 500,000 people,” explained Mr Dlouhý.

According to the Czech Labour Office, the unemployment rate fell to 2.6 per cent in June, its lowest level in 22 years and the lowest in the European Union.