The West needs Czechs

As shortages of qualified workers in certain sectors, in particular in information technology, continue to increase in Western Europe, many countries in the EU are opening their doors to qualified members of the Czech workforce. Beatrice Cady reports:

Earning a pretty penny in Western European countries is getting easier and easier for Czechs. After having fought against a cheap Central European workforce flooding the labour market, more and more EU countries are welcoming them today.

Indeed, the need for qualified workers is increasing throughout Europe. Countries like Germany or Ireland are badly in need of qualified computer scientists and specialists in telecommunications. Germany needs about 80,000 computer scientists, a problem which Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder recently decided to tackle by offering more than 30,000 jobs and residency permits to specialists from India and Eastern Europe. A good computer scientist working in Germany can earn up to 200,000 Czech crowns a month (about 5000 U.S dollars) says the Czech daily Lidove Noviny. That is about 50 times the average salary in the Czech Republic--not a bad reason to cross the border.

In Ireland, the need is not only for computer scientists and specialists in new technologies, but also for hotel and restaurant personnel. All waiters, cooks, barmen or maids are welcome to try their luck. Their wages can range between 30 to 75 thousand Czech crowns (or 750 to nearly 2000 dollars) before tax.

In other countries, like Norway for example, being a construction engineer or an architect, a carpenter, a bricklayer, electrician, or a nurse will make you eligible for a green card. The only conditions you have to comply to are to have no criminal record and to speak English. Another foreign language, like German, is also very much appreciated.

However, even the attractive prospect of earning more money doesn't seem to push Czechs to leave their country. There are more people from E.U countries working legally in the Czech Republic than Czechs working legally abroad, says Lidove Noviny. One good reason for the presence of large numbers of Westerners in the Czech Republic is that, until recently, labour legislation has been much more friendly to foreigners in the Czech Republic than abroad, which would explain why Czechs have not exactly been streaming into EU member states. Statistics say that even if they do get a work permit abroad, Czechs tend to come back home after a year or two.

Author: Beatrice Cady
run audio