Booming Czech economy means Czech skilled workers can shop around

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The Czech Republic has been witnessing a radical fall in its unemployment rate, which fell to just 6.3 percent last month. At the same time, there were 80,000 new job seekers last year. Analysts say the main factor leading to this development is the country's booming economy, with companies expanding and creating new jobs. But economists are already warning that this positive trend is having a negative effect - the country is running out of affordable skilled labour.

Take a walk through any town or city in the Czech Republic and you will notice numerous signs at shops and stores advertising open jobs. But it is not the need to fill lesser positions that has economists worrying. What they fear is that the numerous open positions requiring skilled and experienced staff will not be filled as qualified workers are making more and more demands:

"Hi, my name is Pavel and I have been working in IT for some 7 years now - I'm an IT specialists and consultant. For many companies, the Czech Republic is a country where they can find cheap labour and skilled workers so they are moving their offices here to find new opportunities and employees. For me, it is not a problem to find a new job. I looked into my opportunities on the job market and four companies offered me a contract immediately even though I had met them for the first time."

Pavel chose to reject all four offers. With so many employers desperate for his skills, he is fully aware that he can demand a much higher salary than he would have ever dreamed of just a year ago.

But not all companies can afford to give in to the demands of qualified workers like Pavel. No longer needing to fill 2, 3, or 4 but rather 20, 30, or even 40 positions at once, they turn to recruiting firms like C2D Global to find skilled workers. Vaclav Bazata is a senior consultant at the company, which recruits mainly IT and telecommunication specialists:

"In the Czech Republic, the main problem is not that there aren't enough people but skilled workers have higher requirements in terms of salaries and bonuses and that is why IT companies are now looking for quality candidates for lower salaries from countries like Bulgaria or Romania - countries that are newcomers to the European Union. So, they would like to employ people with more experience, who have the certificates but do not have to be provided competitive salaries."

Bulgaria and Romania may have affordable skilled workers but the language barrier remains a limiting factor for Czech employers. Tesco Stores CR has found another solution. With special programmes tailored to university students, the retail chain has been creating its managers long-term. Jana Matouskova is the spokeswoman for Tesco Stores CR:

"One of these programmes is called the Excel programme. It is a one-year programme for graduates during which people get to know different parts of the company and different parts of work in the retail sector. After the year, they can become managers in different departments. We have many people who started as Excel trainees and they are now working as directors. Our HR director for the Czech Republic and Slovakia passed through this Excel programme."

Besides retail chains and IT firms, large engineering companies, transport and construction firms, and car manufacturers such as Skoda Auto and Toyota Peugeot Citroen Automobile (TPCA) are all finding it hard to fill higher positions. If such employers fail to find affordable qualified staff, they will not be able to develop further. The most skeptical economists predict that it is only a matter of time before the growth of Czech industry will be brought to a halt.