September 10, 2015

Czech firms ready to employ 5,000 refugees

Bureaucracy sets up a lot of obstacles for hiring people quickly

Prague, Sept 10 (ČTK) — Czech firms are ready to immediately employ at least 5,000 refugees from countries such as Syria, especially in technical professions, according to a survey that the Confederation of Industry conducted among several dozens of large Czech industrial companies.

“However, we assume that the demand for refugees may be many times higher,” the confederation’s spokesman Milan Mostyn told the Czech News Agency.

Czech firms prefer foreigners with technical education, a good command of English and the readiness to undergo retraining.

The language barrier and the very lengthy process of receiving work permission may be the main obstacles, according to the employers and personnel agencies that ČTK has addressed.

The European Commission will demand that the Czech Republic accept further 3000 migrants. The Visegrád Group (V4) countries resolutely rejected mandatory refugee quotas and the planned EC proposal for the redistribution of further 120,000 refugees across the EU. The Czech police detained approximately 2500 refugees in the past three months.

According to estimates, 100,000 to 200,000 workers are lacking in the Czech Republic.

Karel Havlíček, head of the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Crafts, said there has been a lack of workers in some technical professions for a long time.

Firms are ready to employ any skilful person and most of them have employed foreigners already, Havlíček said.

Immigrants are usually very good workers because they do not want to lose their jobs, he added.

Havlíček said he believes that refugees with professions such as a doctor or a technical engineer would find jobs, too.

Linet firm owner Zbyněk Frolík said refugees would be good for Czech companies operating in Arab countries.

“If the migrants were interested in staying in the Czech Republic, if they applied for asylum and received the necessary permits, they could find jobs immediately and Czech firms would profit from it,” said Jiří Halbrštát, from the ManpowerGroup personnel agency.

Halbrštát said job opportunities were in agriculture, construction, maintenance, cleaning and product assembly in production firms. Qualified workers can get a job in IT, customer centers for foreigners, finances and engineering even if they do not speak Czech, he added.

But Ladislav Kučera, head of the Hays Czech Republic recruitment and consulting company, said the employment of refugees would be problematic unless the legislation changed.

To get a work permit in the Czech Republic is a long and administratively demanding process and job candidates outside the European Union cannot be flexibly given jobs according to Czech law, Kučera said.

Erik Švarcbach, from the McROY Czech personnel and recruitment firm, said the problems in employing immigrants seem to be the lack of knowledge of the Czech language and the Latin alphabet, the long asylum process, accommodation, a high risk of fluctuation, and cultural and social barriers, namely the fear of clashes between the Czech and Arab cultures at work.

The Confederation of Industry will meet Labor and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová to discuss the possible establishment of a retraining agency for refugees.

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