Czech farm sector faces serious shortage of workers

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Czech agriculture is facing the worst shortage of labour in its history. The number of agricultural workers and students of secondary schools focused on agriculture agricultural has fallen to a record low, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday. Over the past 10 years, the number students in these secondary school dropped from 175,000 to 96, 000.

Photo: Pixabay,  CC0 Public Domain
“If we want to attract new employees to the sector, we have to start hiring people from third countries, for instance from Ukraine,” Minister of Agriculture Marian Jurečka told the daily. At the same time, he admitted that shortage of workers was affecting the whole of the country’s economy.

Last year, just a little over 3,000 students graduated from secondary schools focused on agriculture, which is less than six percent of the total of 55,000 high-school students.

“We have reached the lowest number of students in the country’s modern history. Over the past six years, the number of students has been dropping. Some 17.5 thousand students studied in secondary schools focused on agriculture in 2011 to 2012. The following year their number dropped by 655 and each year, it continues to drop by hundreds,” Hospodářské noviny wrote, referring to the statistics of the Ministry of Education.

Last year, the number of students in agricultural secondary schools dropped below 16,000 and in the previous year the new entrants did not exceed 5,000 for the first time in history.

Among the reasons why agriculture is facing shortage of labour are low earnings. At the moment, they barely exceed the minimum wage, which currently stands at around 11,000 crowns. “Of course we try to get quality employees for reasonable earnings, but people sent to us by the Labour Office are usually not interested in the work,” farmer Jana Skácelová, told the daily, adding that she has the best experience with seasonal workers.

On the international scale, the Czech Republic cannot compare with countries such as Greece or Romania, with around one third of people working in agriculture.