Record number of foreigners from EU states working in Czech Republic

Since the Czech Republic joined the European Union two years ago, many Czechs have taken advantage of the chance to work in those states with free labour markets. Perhaps more surprisingly, more and more citizens of other countries in the EU are now choosing to work here in the Czech Republic. Figures just released show a large increase in their numbers in the last twelve months. Dita Asiedu reports:

"In April of this year a total of 97,770 citizens of EU countries worked in the Czech Republic. They were mainly from Slovakia and Poland. This is because they also speak Slavic languages, are close to home, and have a similar mentality. Surprisingly, the third highest number of foreign workers come from Germany, with some 2,000 registered in April. Of course, the interest of these citizens to move and work here is relative to the job opportunities in the Czech Republic."

Grafton Recruitment is one of the agencies that recruits foreign workers in the Czech Republic. I asked its country manager Milan Novak why he thinks the number of foreign workers in the country has increased:

So why do you recruit foreigners?

"Sometimes we have to look for language speakers that are quite rare in Prague. We sometimes have to look for speakers abroad, who speak Nordic languages like Norwegian, Swedish, or Finnish. We are trying to attract them here and they are attracted because Prague is a very nice place to live and the international environment is something that they are used to."

Do most of the foreigners who you recruit come from the Nordic countries?

"No, that was just an example. We look around other countries as well because we sometimes need specific skills that may not be found in the Czech Republic. In technical matters, for example, we sometimes need skilled people in IT [information technology] and we only have a limited number in the Czech Republic."

What about the salaries. Are they competitive to the home countries or are they local salaries?

"They are local salaries because the investors who come to the Czech Republic come with certain expectations and they know that the salaries in the Czech Republic are at a lower level. So, when we are attracting people from abroad - not from the eastern countries where the salaries are lower - but from the western countries, where the salaries are much higher, it is more demanding for us.

"But we can use strong arguments because the Czech Republic is a nice place to live, the cost of living is much lower and for many young people from Western Europe it is an interesting working experience to come here and spend a couple of years working for an international company. They don't come here for the money."

Preliminary estimates suggest that well over 100,000 foreigners from EU countries are now working in the Czech Republic. This would be a record number in the country's 13 year history. According to experts in the filed of human resources, that number will rise as more international companies are planning to open up back offices in Prague.