Czech ministry widens scope for companies to recruit skilled Ukrainians

Photo: Czech Television

The Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade on Wednesday announced that changes to its pilot project smoothing the way for qualified workers from Ukraine to get jobs in the country have been agreed.

Photo: Czech Television
Just to recap, the project aims to ease the red tape and time needed for Czech companies to hire qualified worker in Ukraine. The target for the pilot project was to recruit up to 500 Ukrainians a year. Given the problems in the country there, high interest was expected.

The changes include lowering the minimum wages that employer will have to offer the new recruits from Ukraine. Originally this was set at one-and-a-half times the average wage in the Czech Republic. That translates into around 38,500 crowns gross a month.

The amendment here means that that minimum comes down, perhaps quite dramatically in some regions, and in future the minimum that companies will have to offer is the average monthly wagefor such work in the region where the employer is sited. Given that there are often fairly wide regional differences in Czech wages, especially between the capital Prague and the rest of the country, this represents quite a significant change.

The second change cuts the number of workers an employer would have to have been employing in the previous two years to take part in the pilot project to just three. That opens the project up to much smaller companies.

The project has already been up and running in its previous incarnation since November 2015. The basic aim is to help employers fill some of the serious gaps in the Czech workforce, especially as regards highly skilled technicians, which have been increasingly appearing since the economic crisis ended and strong growth returned in 2015. The project is primarily aimed at Ukrainians with university education although exceptionally skilled technicians without degrees can also be included.

One of the main backers of the pilot project, the Czech Confederation of Industry, says it is a step in the right direction but its president Jaroslav Hanák this week complained that recruitment was going too slow and the project was not broad enough to respond to Czech industry’s needs. Many of the practical steps on the ground in Ukraine to put the project into practice are carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hanák told Czech Television that the project was offering the prospect of a few thousand skilled technicians when Czech companies were actually facing a shortfall of around 20,000 such workers. He added that as well as Ukraine, the net to find such workers should be broadened and include other countries, such as Belarus and Moldova, as well.